BATON ROUGE -- Alabama safety Rashad Johnson had three interceptions including one in overtime and another that was run for a touchdown, as the No. 1 Crimson Tide beat No. 15 LSU an extra period, 27-21, on Saturday at Tiger Stadium.
A school record crowd of 93,039 watched the heart-thumping action.
LSU (6-3, 3-3 SEC) forced overtime when Alabama placekicker Leigh Tiffin's 29-yard field goal attempt was blocked by defensive tackle Ricky Jean-Francois as time expired in regulation.
Alabama won the coin toss in overtime and elected to send its defense onto the field.
On third-and-6 from the 21, Lee's pass to the LaFell in the endzone was intercepted by Johnson, giving Alabama another chance to win the game. This time, they didn't settle for the short field goal.
Alabama wide receiver Julio Jones caught a 24-yard pass from Wilson on the first play of overtime to setup a 1-yard touchdown run by quarterback John Parker Wilson. The score sent the Tide rushing onto the field. Though the play was reviewed and order maintained momentarily, the call was confirmed.
Alabama improved to 10-0 and clinched the Southeastern Conference Western Division title with the victory. The Tide will represent the division in the SEC Championship game on the first Saturday of December, and kept its opportunity to play for a national championship alive.
LSU's running game and defense helped the Tigers stay ahead of or even with Alabama throughout the game, a place the Tide aren't used to being. The Tigers ran for 201 yards, and outgained Alabama, 382-353.
But, it was the Tigers interceptions and inability to capitalize on Alabama mistakes that cost the defending national champion the chance of spoiling Alabama's perfect record. LSU scored only seven points off three first-half Alabama turnovers and a missed field goal.
On the other side of the field, Alabama made the Tigers pay for their mistakes. The Tide scored 21 points following Johnson's interceptions.
Meanwhile, LSU quarterback Jarrett Lee finished 13-of-34 passing for 181 yards with one touchdown and four costly interceptions. Brandon LaFell led LSU with 74 yards on four catches, while Demetrius Byrd added 51 yards and a touchdown.
Wilson kept the Tide in the game but certainly didn't win the game for Alabama. The senior completed 15-of-31 passes for 215 yards with an interception.
Running back Glen Coffee was the workhorse for the Alabama offense, running 26 times for 126 yards and a touchdown. Wilson ran for two 1-yard touchdowns.
Jones, an Alabama freshman receiver, had a game-high seven catches for 128 yards.
LSU won the toss and deferred its decision to the second half, giving the Crimson Tide the opening kickoff.
Wilson immediately looked for the deep route to McCoy, but, with safety help over the top, LSU cornerback Chris Hawkins had plenty of time to bat the ball away. Coffee then rolled off 31 yards along the left sideline to put Bama in LSU territory at the 42.
Two plays later a 10-yard catch by Jones moved the chains to the LSU 30. A run for no gain by Coffee and a 4-yard catch by McCoy setup a third-and-6 at the LSU 26.
Under pressure in the pocket, Wilson rolled out to the right and lobbed the ball over two LSU defenders into the arms of wide receiver Earl Alexander. The 6-4, 216-pound redshirt freshman dragged a defender to the goalline when Tigers nickel back Chad Jones knocked the ball from his outstretched hand and through the endzone for a touchback.
The play was reviewed by the officials and confirmed.
Though the Tide was denied the early score, they took advantage of an interception on Lee's first pass of the game to post the game's first points. Lee's pass was tipped in the air by Byrd and intercepted at the 25 by defensive back Rashad Johnson and returned to the LSU 15.
Coffee ran to the 1 with a 14-yard gain, then Wilson finished the drive with a 1-yard touchdown run on third-and-goal to give Bama a 7-0 lead with 8:23 to play in the first quarter.
An unsportsmanlike conduct penalty on Alabama moved the ensuing kickoff to the 15, and a 31-yard return by Williams allowed LSU to take over at its 45. A 12-yard pass from Lee to Byrd moved the Tigers into Alabama territory. Scott used a 7-yard run on third-and-4 to pickup a first down and setup a perfect 30-yard touchdown strike to Bryd on the left side of the field.
LSU tied the game with David's 100th-straight point after touchdown, 7-7, with 6:21 to play in the first quarter.
Turnovers and missed opportunities dominated the remainder of the half.
On second-and-10, Scott ran up the middle of the Alabama defense for a 30-yard touchdown that game LSU a 14-7 lead with 5:57 left in the first quarter.
The teams traded punts before Wilson was intercepted by LSU freshman cornerback Patrick Peterson attempting to hook up with wide receiver Marquise Maze deep along the left sideline.
However, LSU was unable to take advantage and Brady Dalfrey's punt traveled only 34 yards to the Alabama 48. A 26-yard hookup between Lee and Jones had Alabama in at the LSU 26. Consecutive incomplete passes led to a 42-yard field goal attempt by Leigh Tiffin that was missed to the left.
Both teams had third-and-short opportunities in their opponent's territory on the next two drives, but LSU's option pitch to Williams was sniffed out by the Alabama defense and Ingram fumbled Wilson's pitch in the backfield. Again, the teams traded punts.
For the sixth time this season, an interception by Lee was returned for a touchdown. This time, on third-and-8 from the LSU 36, Lee overthrew Terrance Toliver near midfield and hit Johnson in the gut. Johnson ran along the right sideline for 54 yards to tie the game at 14-14 with 4:33 to play in the half.
With its defense continuing to stop the Crimson Tide, LSU advanced into the Crimson Tide's 24 with a 25-yard run by Williams. Three-straight zero-gains gave David an opportunity at a 41-yard field goal. The attempt was missed to the left with 20 seconds left in the half.
The teams went to the break tied at 14-14.
Three-straight punts without a first down was only enough to change field position by a few yards. Alabama then looked to Coffee and Jones for an offensive spark. The two combined for all 69 yards of the Tide's scoring drive that ended with a 3-yard run by Coffee.
With 8:14 left in the third quarter, Alabama took the lead, 21-14.
A 29-yard catch by LaFell moved the chains for LSU for the first time in the half. Though the Tigers converted a fourth-and-1 at the Alabama 31, Alabama's blitz got to Lee on third-and-9 and his pass was batted in the air and intercepted by linebacker Rolando McClain to end the threat.
Once again, the teams traded punts on the next three possessions.
LSU took over at its 26 and, finally, the Tigers found an offensive rhythm.
Lee connected with Toliver for first-down gains of 13 and 10 yards to the LSU 49-yard line. Lee then completed a 24-yard pass over the middle to LaFell to the Alabama 25. On second-and-8 from the 23, running back Richard Murphy moved behind center and took the direct snap, running up the middle to the 15.
After an 11-yard catch by Toliver, gave the Tigers third-and-1 at the Alabama 6. Fullback Quinn Johnson picked up the yard and four more to the 1. On second-and-goal from the 1, Scott scored to tie the game at 21-21 with 6:12 to play.
Alabama looked to break the tie right away, as Wilson left the pocket and ran for a 32-yard touchdown. The play was called back due to a holding penalty, and the Tide punted.
LSU was unable to pickup a first down, and punted right back to the Tide. On the final drive of regulation, Arenas returned a 48-yard Dalfrey punt for 23 yards to the LSU 41, giving the Tide perfect position to score a game-winning field goal with 1:58 left.
A 15-yard facemask penalty on LSU linebacker Kelvin Sheppard moved Alabama into the redzone, and a game-winning field goal seemed inevitable. Parker moved the ball to the middle of the field to setup the 29-yard field goal attempt. The blocked field goal landed in the hands of Darry Beckwith, who ran backward and slid down near the goal line as time expired in regulation.
LSU returns to action on Saturday, Nov. 15, at 7 p.m. CST when the Tigers play host to Troy on Homecoming. The game was originally scheduled for Sept. 6 but was rescheduled in the aftermath of Hurricane Gustav.
LSU HEAD COACH LES MILES
“How was Tiger Stadium? It was a great crowd and a place I love playing and competing in. I thank that crowd for being there. I thank that crowd for turning out, and I thank that crowd for being a part of that game. I asked this team to improve. I asked this team to work hard, and they did. They gave us everything that we asked them to do. That defense, wow. That’s the defense I came to appreciate, that defense right there. Offensively, we moved the football. We did good things, rushed the football well, and the story is we didn’t manage our mistakes. Let me tell you. He’s (Jarrett Lee) a young quarterback. We dropped a ball here and dropped a ball there. Another ball that maybe should have been caught is a pick, and just about everything that could possibly go wrong does. It’s hard to rebound. It’s hard for him to continue to fight, but he does. He comes back onto the field with the opportunity to win the game. Again, it’s a throw that he does not need to make, but his view was, ‘I hit this one, we win.’ Boy, what a great view. I just need to coach him some more, love him, support him and make him better. I like our team. I enjoy their effort. Congratulations and hats off to Alabama. They played well. John Parker Wilson is a good quarterback. He’s very mobile. He makes some nice throws and manages the game well. They run the football when they should. They have a very good defense and a very talented team.”
On if QB Jarrett Lee is still going through growing pains...
“I think he can play better than he played today, simply put. I thought that he gave his team a chance to win. He’s a redshirt freshman. He’s taking snaps and playing competitively against a team that we need to catch the ball and make some plays through the air. They put extra guys down in the box, and we have to throw it.”
On his decision not to play QB Jordan Jefferson...
“We kind of know what we’re doing with our quarterbacks. We kind of think that we don’t want to put him (Jordan Jefferson) in a tough situation just yet. He’s coming. We like him, and we talked about it several times in the game. There’s a lot to it. There’s a lot to that spot and to put a guy in there who may not be ready. You can argue the same thing about Lee, but Jefferson is a true freshman with less experience and less game-time experience.”
On if he ran the ball more when Lee was struggling...
“I think the want to be balanced is us. I think the want to take the pressure off the quarterback at any point in time is always us. At times, we were running the football well, but we ran the football best when we were hitting passes. We played the pass, and that allowed us to run the football in bigger chunks.”
LSU OFFENSIVE PLAYER QUOTES
On the loss to Alabama...
“Yes it’s very disappointing. Now we have to work hard and make up for our mistakes.”
On the game...
“We played hard. We did everything coach asked us to do. It just didn’t fall like it was supposed to.”
On moving on to play more games ...
“This game will be very difficult to forget. It was a very emotional game. It’s going to be hard to put this game behind us because we were so close to winning. We need to move forward and step up our game because we have many more games ahead of us.”
QB Jarrett Lee
On fighting hard the whole game ...
“I thought we fought hard down to the buzzer. We had a great week at practice. It’s unfortunate that it didn’t work out for us. We are going to move forward and keep our heads up.”
On last week’s practice...
“We had a great week of practice. We came in this game and executed the best way we could. Unfortunately, we did not come out with a victory, but I thought we fought hard.”
On getting over a loss like this ...
“That’s part of football. You have to bounce back from losses like this. We are going to bounce back because we have a lot of football still to play.
LSU DEFENSIVE PLAYER QUOTES
On the disappointment of losing in overtime ...
“We started off very good. Towards the end things got a little shaky with our turnovers and Alabama made a couple of big plays. It was a huge game and we didn’t finish the way we wanted to.”
On the improvement of the defense ...
“We feel good about the way our defense played. We did better. We gave up touchdowns though, and our defense just does not like to give up touchdowns.”
On how to move forward ...
“With a big game like this everyone will be thinking about it for a while. If there is one thing LSU has taught me, it is to put this game in the past and move forward. We have to put this behind us very quickly and move on to the next game.”
On what the team will focus on next ...
“We continue to play for pride and try to win out. The season is not over yet. We have three more games left. So we play for pride and the great tradition that LSU possesses.”
On how to rebound...
“We have to continue to improve and play well. We want to play hard and finish the season with a good outcome.”
ALABAMA HEACH COACH NICK SABAN QUOTES
Opening statement ...
“First of all, I’d like to say the game is about the players and it was a great college football game. The players on both sides played their hearts out. LSU’s team played an outstanding game. Our players played hard in the game with a lot of tenacity and overcame a lot of adversity. A penalty brought back a touchdown that would have won the game and then we got a field goal blocked and went to win in overtime. My hats off to our players and the way they competed, but I wasn’t really pleased with the way we played in the first half. We turned the ball over three times and missed a field goal. Defensively we didn’t play the run very well. Give (LSU) credit for the plan that they had and the things that they did. I thought we played a lot better in the second half. We had a huge drive in the third quarter that was important and our turnovers obviously made a big difference in the game. Always turnovers in overtime are huge.
“I congratulated our players after the game, but I also asked them if they thought they played their best game. Do you think we played better than we did before? Do you think we made improvements as a team? Those are the kind of things that even though we clenched a spot with the SEC West, you get what your expectations are. If you have a high level of expectations that you expect to achieve and accomplish then you obviously have a better chance of getting there. I didn’t think we had the same kind of intensity that we had been playing with and we were a little flat in the first half. This was a huge game for us and sometimes you wonder as a coach that you did or didn’t do or what your expectation was for them to do to be more ready to play. I take full responsibility for that. We need to do a better job to get our players ready against a very good team. This was a very good team we played today and they played well.
“I know there may be some people that have a negative attitude, but I can say I really appreciate those people that spoke to me and welcomed me back here today. I really appreciate that from the people here. We have special memories of this place, and no one will tarnish those no matter what they do. I appreciate the class of the people and administration at LSU.”
On the overtime difference ...
“We decided to go with a big play off the bat to Julio (Jones) which we hit one play and that makes a big difference. LSU is a good goal line defense team. We struggled to get it in but we got it in and would have kicked a field goal or tried to again. Hopefully we would have gotten it blocked.”
On bringing Alabama back to national prominence ...
“We are at about 19,000 ft. The mountain is at 26,000 ft. and the air is changing a little bit. The air is a little rarer and you have to change how you breathe sometimes, but you still have to focus on the task at hand. Because of that, if you slip up and don’t focus on what you are supposed to, the conseqeunces can be devastating even more so than when you are at 7,000 ft.
ALABAMA OFFENSIVE QUOTES
QB John Parker Wilson
On overcoming adversity...
“For the first time this season we’ve had to come from behind, play the whole game and win in overtime. I think it was great for our team. Offensively we didn’t play very well the whole game. We missed some shots and opportunities. Defense played great, and we were able to win the game.”
On growing from adversity...
“Everyone stayed upbeat the whole game. We kept heart. We were beating ourselves. We were doing stupid stuff. We had turned the ball over, not executing like we should have. We executed when we had to, and we won the game.”
On overtime play...
“After that interception Coach Saban said let’s take a shot, so of course we threw it to Julio Jones. He made a great play. It was a back shoulder ball. (He made) great adjustment. He was able to beat them out.”
OL Andre Smith
On overcoming adversity...
“We just have to focus and capitalize like we did today. We were looking forward to playing this weekend. It was a great game.”
On satisfaction of victory for Nick Saban...
“It was great. He didn’t put it all on himself and say 'this is for me.'”
ALABAMA DEFENSIVE PLAYER QUOTES
DB Ali Sharrief
On how they were able to disrupt Jarrett Lee’s rhythm ...
“Basically we just stuck to the game plan. Our coaches put us in a good position this week in practice and we were able to go out there and execute.”
On getting behind in the first half ...
“We were a little off-coordinated in the first two quarters, but we came out after halftime and put some things together and got back on track in the second half.”
On the blocked field goal and going into overtime ...
“As a defense after that blocked field goal we knew it was on us to go out there and make a play. We knew we had to come out and put together another half of football and that’s what we did.”
DB Rashad Johnson
On his mindset coming into the game ...
“My mindset before the game was just to focus on the things we prepared for all week and to make sure I was set up for different motions and looks they would give us. My mindset was just to have my mind ready for the worst case scenario so I could recognize it on the field and get the right play in to the rest of the defense.”
On his interception in overtime ...
“I saw him rollout and we brought a blitz to pull him up because they had been running that play a lot in the second half. It was a great play call by us to blitz him on that side so he couldn’t get all the way out and throw the out route like he normally does. Then he was looking for his receiver on that side and just overthrew him.”
On the interception he returned for a touchdown ...
“He was sitting in the pocket and I think got a little pressure and left it up a little too high and I was in the area to pick it off and run up the field and my teammates made some great blocks for me down field.”
On LSU quarterback Jarrett Lee ...
“He is a redshirt freshman and he’ll learn as the years go on how to adjust to different things.”