TUSCALOOSA, Ala. – Without starting quarterback Jordan Jefferson and running back Charles Scott for most of the second half, No. 9 LSU was shutout in the fourth quarter and fell to No. 3 Alabama, 24-15, on Saturday night at Bryant-Denny Stadium.
LSU (7-2, 4-2 SEC) lost in Tuscaloosa for the first time since 1999, while Alabama (9-0, 6-0 SEC) clinched the SEC Western Division and will face No. 1 Florida in the SEC Championship game.
The Tigers return home to face Louisiana Tech on Saturday, Nov. 14, at Tiger Stadium. Kickoff for Homecoming 2009 is set for 6 p.m. CST on ESPNU.
Two plays after Scott exited the game with an injury, LSU backup running back Stevan Ridley bounced a run to the right side and scored an 8-yard touchdown to give the Tigers a 15-10 lead late in the third quarter. The scoring drive came after the LSU defense sacked Alabama quarterback Greg McElroy in the endzone for a safety.
However, Alabama scored three times in a 14-0 fourth-quarter shutout, including a 73-yard catch and run by wide receiver Julio Jones that put the Tide ahead for good, 19-15. Alabama converted the two-point conversion, and placekicker Leigh Tiffin tacked on field goals of 20 and 40 yards in the final quarter to put the game on ice.
Jefferson, who was knocked out of the game in the first half after taking a helmet to the chest, left for good in the third quarter after being sacked and called for intentional grounding. He was 10-of-17 passing for 114 yards with a 12-yard touchdown pass to tight end Deangelo Peterson in the second quarter that gave LSU a 7-0 lead.
Peterson reeled in a perfect pass from Jefferson on a crossing route that ended a 13-play, 91-yard second-quarter drive.
Backup quarterback Jarrett Lee was 4-of-10 passing for 44 yards with an interception on the Tigers final offensive play.
Scott left the game after a 13-carry, 83-yard performance.
However, the Tide outgained LSU, 452-253, and held the Tigers to just nine yards of offense in the final quarter.
McElroy completed 19-of-34 passes for 276 yards with two touchdowns and an interception caught inside the Tigers' 10-yard line on the Tide's final play of the first half.
Alabama running back Mark Ingram, a Heisman Trophy hopeful, dominated at times, rushing 22 times for 144 yards – 106 in the second half.
Alabama won the coin toss and deferred its decision until the second half. LSU received the opening kickoff and defended the north endzone to start the game.
A run by Jefferson came up a foot short on third-and-5, and the Tigers punted after three plays to start the game. A 47-yard punt by LSU's Derek Helton was fair caught at the Alabama 20.
The Tide attempted seven-straight passes, completing screens for first downs on a pair of third-and-10s. After crossing midfield, McElroy's third-and-19 completion gained only nine yards, and the Tide punted. On second down, Alabama lost nine yards on a mishandled snap from shotgun by running back Mark Ingram.
Alabama punter P.J. Fitzgerald pinned the Tigers at their 8-yard line.
On third-and-7, Jefferson connected to LaFell for a 28-yard gain to the Alabama 39, but the play was nullified by an illegal formation.
Helton got off a 47-yard punt from his endzone, and the Tigers coverage held Javier Arenas to only two yards on the return.
With the Tide starting at the LSU 48, the Tigers defense stiffened. Ingram's first run from scrimmage went over the rigth side for eight yards, but his next came up a yard short of the first down.
Richardson's punt sailed into the corner of the endzone, giving LSU possession after the touchback.
Jefferson took advantage immediately, connecting with Toliver on a short pass to the left. The 6-foot-4 Toliver broke a tackle and sprinted into Alabama territory for a 41-yard gain.
A 4-yard gain by Scott to the Alabama 35 put LSU in Josh Jasper's field goal range, but then the drive lost its momentum after a substitution infraction that put too many men in the huddle. Jasper's punt was downed at the Alabama 1.
McElroy got out of the endzone's shadow with a 37-yard completion to wide receiver Marquise Maze. Another first-down completion to tight end Michael Williams moved the Tide into Tigers territory when LSU's defense put the breaks on again. Three plays later, Richardson's punt was downed at the LSU 9.
With 23 seconds left in the first quarter, LSU started its first scoring drive.
After his false start caused LSU five yards, Peterson collected a 28-yard corner route from Jefferson, who was throwing from his endzone.
Two plays later, freshman Russell Shepard gained 10 yards on a fake end-around to wide receiver Brandon LaFell. LSU crossed midfield on an 8-yard run by Jefferson, then picked up a first down on a tough run by Scott on third-and-2. Jefferson used his feet to pickup another first down on third-and-7, running for 15 yards to the 23.
Scott took a perfectly executed option pitch from Jefferson to get a 9-yard gain, and Shepard's second-effort gave the Tigers a first down with a 2-yard run to the 12. The offensive rhythm led to Peterson's first career touchdown, a 12-yard pass on a crossing pattern from Jefferson.
Jasper's PAT gave LSU a 7-0 lead with 9:12 left to play in the half. The 13-play, 91-yard yard drive took 6:11 off the clock.
Arenas' 40-yard kickoff return setup Alabama's answer to the Tigers score. Freshman running back Trent Richardson gave the Tide a spark with an 11-yard run to the LSU 34. A 12-yard catch by Maze moved the Tide to the LSU 18, where the drive stalled on two poor throws by McElroy. The junior quarterback missed Julio Jones wide open in the right corner of the endzone on a blown coverage in the LSU secondary. Then, McElroy overthrew receiver Darius Hanks. He scrambled well short of the first down at the 11 and the Tide settled for 28-yard field goal by placekicker Leigh Tiffin.
Alabama cut the lead to 7-3 with 5:52 to play.
On the final drive of the half, the Tigers defense played soft in middle of the field and a pass interference penalty on Patrick Peterson moved the Tide to the LSU 23. However, LSU defensive end Rahim Alem pressured McElroy up the middle, and his pass came up well short of intended receiver Colin Peek. LSU linebacker Kelvin Sheppard earned the first interception of his career and gave the Tigers a pickoff for the 19th-straight game, its longest streak since 1983-85.
LSU led 7-3 at the half.
Alabama started the second half with its most impressive offensive drive of the game, an eight-play, 81-yard drive that resulted in a 21-yard touchdown pass from McElroy to Hanks.
Ingram did most of the work on the drive, touching the ball five times for 58 times as Alabama didn't encouter a third down.
With 11:40 to play in the third quarter, Alabama led 10-7.
The Tigers responded by entering Alabama territory and changing field position, though Jefferson left the game after an intentional grounding penalty at the LSU 39. Lee entered and completed a 20-yard pass to R.J. Jackson to the Alabama 41. Lee completed another pass to Jackson for 17 yards on fourth-and-5, but a penalty brought the play back and LSU was forced to punt. Jasper landed another inside the Alabama 5, and it was downed at the 1.
The punt proved key for the Tigers, as McElroy was sacked from behind by LSU defensive tackle Drake Nevis on third-and-9 for a safety. Intentional grounding was called on McElroy, as he attempted to get rid of the ball while on the way to the ground.
LSU trailed 10-9 with 5:55 left in the third quarter.
Holliday returned the free kick after the safety to the LSU 41, where Lee and the Tigers began another scoring drive.
Scott picked up a first down to the Alabama 49 and then sprinted 34 yards over right guard for a first down. However, when he was tackled from behind, Scott suffered an injury and left the game.
An offsides penalty on Alabama moved the Tigers to the 8. Ridley, who replaced Scott in the backfield, took a handoff from Lee, found no hole up the middle and bounced to the right where he sprinted past a defender to the pylon.
Lee attempted a pass on a two-point conversion but Peterson couldn't hang on in the back of the endzone.
LSU led 15-10 with 3:19 left in the third quarter.
Alabama came back to take the lead on LSU, scoring on consecutive possessions.
Ingram again carried the load, peeling off runs of 23 and 10 yards to the LSU 20. The Tide advanced to the 2 on a 5-yard catch by Jones but had a substitution infraction with defensive tackle Terrance Cody in the game as a 12th man.
The Tide used a 20-yard field goal to narrow the deficit to 15-13 with 12:35 left in the game.
With Scott out, LSU was unable to convert a third-and-1 by Ridley and punted.
The Tide then grabbed the lead on the next offensive play, as Jones caught a short pass from McElroy and sprinted up the left sideline 73 yards for a touchdown.
Richardson ran successfully around the left end on the two-point try to give Alabama a 21-15 lead with 10:24 left to play.
Two plays in the final 10 minutes cost LSU an opportunity to make a final push. LSU was charged with running into the kicker on fourth-and-6 that allowed the Tide a short fourth-down conversion.
A few plays later, Patrick Peterson looked to have intercepted McElroy in front of the LSU bench, but the play was reviewed. Though no ruling was announced on the field, the officials ruled an incomplete pass though video showed Peterson tip-toed the sideline with the ball in hand.
Alabama was able to come out of the drive with a 40-yard field goal by Tiffin, enough for a two-score advantage and the final margin, 24-15.
LSU vs. Alabama
Nov. 7, 2009 – Bryant-Denny Stadium (Tuscaloosa, Ala.)
1. LSU’s game captains were 30 Josh Jasper, 70 Ciron Black, 32 Charles Scott, 84 Rahim Alem, 8 Trindon Holliday and 11 Kelvin Sheppard.
2. Alabama won the toss and deferred to the second half. LSU received the opening kickoff.
3. Tigers extending their notable consecutive starts streak tonight were: LT Ciron Black (49), OG Lyle Hitt (29), LB Harry Coleman (22), RT Joseph Barksdale (22) and RB Charles Scott (22).
4. Tigers making their first career starts today: WR R.J. Jackson and WR Rueben Randle.
5. With Kelvin Sheppard’s interception late in the second quarter, LSU has now intercepted at least one pass in 11 straight games dating back to the final two games of the 2008 season. It is the longest streak since recording a pick in 19 straight games from Nov. 24, 1983 (vs. Tulane) to Nov. 2, 1985 (vs. Ole Miss).
6. This was the fifth straight game – Georgia, Florida, Auburn, Tulane and Alabama – LSU did not allow a first-quarter touchdown.
7. Drake Nevis’ sack for a safety was the first safety recorded by LSU on an individual tackle since Early Doucet tackled the punter in the endzone versus Arkansas on Nov. 25, 2005.
8. QB Jordan Jefferson tossed his 12th touchdown pass of the season and 16th of his career on a 12-yard toss to Deangelo Peterson with 9:12 to go in the second quarter.
9. TE Deangelo Peterson hauled in a 12-yard touchdown pass from Jordan Jefferson with 9:12 left in the second quarter. It was his first career TD on only his fourth career catch.
10. RB Stevan Ridley scored his second touchdown of the season and third of his career on an 8-yard run with 3:19 left in the third quarter. Ridley came in after Charles Scott was injured. At that time, it was Ridley’s ninth rush of the season.
11. WR Brandon LaFell has now caught a pass in 37 straight games (36 of those multiple-reception games) dating back to the 2007 Sugar Bowl versus Notre Dame.
a. LaFell’s streak is the fifth longest streak in the nation. Central Michigan’s Bryan Anderson leads the nation with 49consecutive games with a catch.
12. RB Charles Scott gained 83 yards on 13 carries to move his career rushing yards total to 2,317. He is now in seventh place all time in LSU career rushing yardage, surpassing Rondell Mealey (1996-99) and LaBrandon Toefield (2000-02). Mealey had 2,238 in his career, and Toefield had 2,291.
13. WR Terrance Toliver extended his streak to 19 straight games with a reception.
14. LB Jacob Cutrera tied his career high with 11 tackles.
15. LB Kelvin Sheppard’s interception was the first of his career.
16. CB Jai Eugene set a new career high with six tackles.