No. 3 Tigers Overcome Mistakes, Then No. 17 Tide, 41-34
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — Winning on the road in the SEC doesn’t require style points. Thank goodness. On Saturday at Bryant-Denny Stadium, the third-ranked LSU football team overcame a wave of mistakes to beat No. 17 Alabama in improbable fashion, 41-34.
In the process, LSU (8-1, 5-1 SEC) took control of its destiny in the Southeastern Conference Western Division and solidified its spot among the best teams in the nation with its fifth win over opponents ranked in the top 18 in the Associated Press Top 25.
The Tigers did it despite themselves. Fourteen penalties for 130 yards, coupled with three interceptions and a blocked field goal were enough to have any fan in purple and gold pulling at their white cap.
Trailing by seven with less than three minutes to play after a 61-yard punt return for a touchdown by Alabama’s Javier Arenas, LSU responded as champions often do.
The Tigers knotted the game at 34-34 on a nifty 32-yard touchdown reception and run by senior Early Doucet.
Looking to stop Alabama from getting in range to win the game, the LSU defense forced Alabama quarterback John Parker Wilson to fumble. The Tigers recovered at the Tide 3-yard line and scored 13 seconds later on a 1-yard run by Hester.
The two touchdowns in 93 seconds stunned the Alabama faithful, who were left with only 96 seconds to stage a comeback.
LSU won for the fourth-straight time in Tuscaloosa dating back to 1999 and improved to 8-3 since the series moved here permanently in 1988.
LSU quarterback Matt Flynn finished with career highs of 24-of-44 passing for 353 yards and three touchdowns. After ending the first half with three interceptions and a blocked field goal, Flynn bounced back to lead the Tigers in all aspects as the game progressed.
Flynn also made a 35-yard reception and ran 10 times for 19 yards.
Running back Jacob Hester led the Tigers on the ground, running 16 times for 47 yards with two 1-yard touchdown runs.
Coming off his game-winning catch against Auburn two weeks ago, LSU wide receiver Demetrius Byrd led his team with six catches for 144 yards including a 61-yard touchdown.
Doucet had five catches for 67 yards with touchdowns of 10 and 32 yards.
Wilson, who was sacked seven times for minus-53 yards, finished only 14-of-40 passing for 234 yards. Despite the poor completion percentage, his touchdown passes of 67, 29 and 14 yards gave the Crimson Tide the lead for most of the game. He threw one interception that led to an LSU touchdown.
The Tide was stalled on the ground, rushing 33 times for 20 yards, including the LSU sacks.
After a 31-yard kickoff return by Javier Arenas gave Alabama positive field position at their 38, Wilson converted two third-and-long passes to senior wide receiver Matt Caddell to drive into the LSU red zone.
On the first, Wilson was able to get off a pass against an LSU blitz. On the next, a 32-yard gain to the LSU 20, Wilson lofted an under-thrown pass to the right sideline that Caddell was able to come back to and pull in for a big gain.
However, the Tigers defense stiffened and the Tide settled for a Leigh Tiffin 36-yard field goal. Alabama led 3-0 with 12:30 left in the first quarter.
On LSU’s first possession, the Tigers answered with an 11-play drive that advanced to the Alabama 7 before being pushed back with three straight negative plays to end the drive. Flynn found tight end Richard Dickson on a seam route for 35 yards to the Alabama 35. Then, he connected with Doucet for the first time for 21 yards to the 12. However, two sacks an a failed option to Hester put placekicker Colt David in position to kick try a 43-yard field goal.
The attempt was successful, and LSU tied the game at 3-3 with 6:05 left in the quarter.
On the next play from scrimmage, the Tigers got a scare when All-America defensive tackle Glenn Dorsey was hit on his injured right knee and forced to leave the game under his own power.
However, on the next play, LSU cornerback Chevis Jackson stepped in front of an Alabama receiver to grab his fourth interception of the season. Jackson returned 18 yards to the Alabama 12.
On third-and-8 from the Tide 10, Flynn found Doucet on a wide receiver screen to the left side of the field. The senior receiver then scampered untouched for a 10-yard score. LSU led 10-3 with 4:30 left in the first quarter.
LSU linebacker Darry Beckwith joined Dorsey on the sideline with an injury after registering a tackle on the next play from scrimmage. Despite the loss of the two star defensive Tigers, LSU safety Chad Jones sacked Wilson on third-and-8 to force a punt.
Starting on the Alabama 46, Miles’ offense pulled a trick out of the ever-growing hat. Hester took the handoff from Flynn, started left and handed off to Doucet on an end-around. Doucet, a former high school quarterback, passed down the field to a wide-open Flynn in Alabama territory. Flynn made the first designed reception by an LSU quarterback since Herb Tyler in 1998 for 35 yards.
Five plays later, on third-and-goal from inside the 1, Hester ran over left guard for a 1-yard touchdown an a 17-3 lead on the first play of the second quarter.
With Dorsey and Beckwith back on the field, the teams traded punts.
Alabama was backed up inside its 20 by the LSU defense, however, a late hit penalty on LSU defensive end Tyson Jackson allowed the Tide to stay on the field after an incomplete pass. On the next play, Wilson looked deep for wide receiver DJ Hall and connected for a 67-yard touchdown.
Alabama cut the Tigers lead to 17-10 with 11:03 left in the half.
Three Flynn interceptions on the Tigers next three possessions — including the second on LSU’s 10-yard line — cost LSU 10 points and the lead late in the second quarter
The Tide cut the lead to 17-13 with a 21-yard field goal by Tiffin with 6:12 to play.
With just more than one minute to play in the half, Flynn was picked off by Kareem Jackson who returned the interception to the LSU 35.
A personal foul penalty on Hester after the play gave Alabama the ball on the LSU 20. After a sack of Wilson, the senior quarterback threw into double coverage in the endzone and 6-foot-3 wide receiver Keith Brown came away with the touchdown.
The Tide took its first lead, 20-17 with 46 seconds left in the half.
A 46-yard field attempt by David was blocked by Jackson to end the half.
Neither team was able to get into an offensive rhythm until late in the third quarter when the Tide drove 80 yards on eight plays for a touchdown. Alabama once again benefitted from an LSU 15-yard penalty, giving the Tide first-and-10 at the LSU 15.
Two plays later, Wilson fought off a blitz and threw over the top to an out-stretched Brown for his second touchdown of the game.
The 14-yard score put Alabama ahead 27-17 with 1:19 left in the third quarter.
LSU wasted no time answering the score.
Only two plays and 52 seconds later, Flynn found Demetrius Byrd behind Bama coverage for a 61-yard touchdown that silenced the Alabama crowd.
The quick score gave the LSU defense life as well, as the Tigers allowed Wilson into their territory before a Tyson Jackson sack pushed the Tide back to its side of the field.
After the Alabama punt, Flynn again connected with Byrd for a 35-yard gain to the Alabama 38. The Tigers called on David for a 49-yard field goal attempt and the junior kicker converted to tie the game at 27-27 with 11:21 to play.
Alabama looked to answer the score immediately, however, a 41-yard reception by Caddell was reviewed and ruled incomplete. The Tide were forced to punt.
LSU came up inches short of a first down on the ensuing possession and tried the draw the Tide offside. However, LSU was flagged for a false start and then a personal foul for arguing the play.
Patrick Fisher‘s 44-yard punt was taken by Arenas at the Alabama 39, run up the middle of the field and past the Tigers’ last line of defense for a 61-yard touchdown return.
Alabama led 34-27 with 7:33 left in the game.
Consecutive three-and-outs gave the Tigers possession at their 16-yard line.
Brandon La Fell caught consecutive passes of 19 and 14 yards before Flynn converted a third-and-5 from the Alabama 46 to Byrd for a first down. Facing fourth-and-4 at the Alabama 32, Flynn found Doucet over the middle.
The senior wide receiver who missed the better part of five games with an injury juked two defenders and ran untouched into the endzone once again to tie the game at 34-34 with 2:49 to play.
Looking to keep the Tide on its side of the field, the Tigers defense got one better.
The second of back-to-back sacks was by Jones, who forced Wilson to fumble. LSU safety Curtis Taylor landed on the loose ball at the Alabama 3, and the Tigers’ were primed to win another tough SEC road contest.
LSU returns to Baton Rouge after the game and will next face Louisiana Tech on Nov. 10 at Tiger Stadium for homecoming. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. CST. The game will be televised on a pay-per-view basis on TigerVision. Contact your local cable or satellite provider for information.
LSU at Alabama
Nov. 3, 2007 ? Bryant-Denny Stadium (Tuscaloosa, Ala.)
1. LSU’s game captains were 6 Colt David, 15 Matt Flynn, 16 Craig Steltz, 21 Chevis Jackson and 93 Tyson Jackson.
2. LSU won the toss and deferred to the second half. Alabama received the opening kickoff.
3. Tigers extending their consecutive starts streak today were: CB Chevis Jackson (35), LB Ali Highsmith (23), LT Ciron Black (22), CB Jonathan Zenon (22), LG Herman Johnson (19) and DT Glenn Dorsey (17).
4. First-time starters for LSU in today’s game: WR Terrance Toliver.
5. Before LSU’s punt with 12 minutes left in the second quarter, the Tigers had scored on seven straight possessions dating back to the second half of the Auburn game. The Tigers scored on the final four possessions against Auburn and the first three in today’s game.
6. Defensively, LSU has held eight of nine opponents scoreless on the opening drive of the second half. Florida was the only team this season to score in its first possession of the second half against the Tigers.
7. Javier Arenas’ 61-yard punt return for a touchdown by Alabama was the first punt return for a score LSU had allowed since Kendrick Shanklin returned one for 56 yards for Kentucky on Oct. 16, 1999 in Lexington.
8. LSU extended its November winning streak to 16 games with the victory. The Tigers have not lost in the month of November since losing to Arkansas, 21-20, on Nov. 29, 2002 in Little Rock, Ark.
9. LSU extended its winning streak over Alabama to five games and its winning streak in Tuscaloosa to four games. The Tigers have not lost in Bryant-Denny Stadium since 1999.
10. With the win, LSU moved to 5-1 versus ranked teams in 2007.
11. LSU recorded a season-high seven sacks for a loss of 53 yards.
12. The Tigers’ come-from-behind victory represented the eighth comeback win in the final quarter for LSU under head coach Les Miles. Three of those have come in 2007 and were all engineered by quarterback Matt Flynn.
13. PK Colt David‘s 43-yard FG with 6:05 left in the first quarter and a 49-yard FG with 11:21 in the fourth quarter were his 15th and 16th made FGs of the season and the 27th and 28th of his career. The successful kicks moved David into seventh place on LSU’s career FG made list. It also moved him into a third-place tie for FG made in a season.
a. David’s 49-yard FG was the longest by an LSU player since Chris Jackson made a 50-yard FG against Miami in the 2005 Peach Bowl.
b. David’s 11 points today moved the kicker into seventh place on LSU’s single-season scoring list with 95 points.
c. David’s 11 points today give him 89 points this season as a kicker, moving him into first place in points by a kicker in a season (David scored six points on a fake field goal against South Carolina).
d. David’s four successful extra points kicked in today’s game extended his consecutive PAT streak to 49, the fourth longest streak in LSU history.
14. CB Chevis Jackson recorded his fourth interception of the season and seventh of his career late in the first quarter.
15. WR Early Doucet pulled down a 10-yard touchdown pass from QB Matt Flynn with 4:30 left in the first quarter and a 32-yard touchdown pass in the fourth quarter. The scores were Doucet’s third and fourth of the season and the 18th and 19th of his career. Doucet is now tied for third place on LSU’s career receiving touchdowns list, joining Devery Henderson and Wendell Davis, who also recorded 19.
a. Doucet tossed the first pass of his career, a 35-yard completion to QB Matt Flynn, late in the first quarter. It was also the first reception in Flynn’s career.
b. Doucet finished with five receptions and moved to sole possession of ninth place in LSU career receptions with 130.
16. QB Matt Flynn tossed a 10-yard touchdown pass to WR Early Doucet with 4:30 left in the first quarter, a 61-yard pass to WR Demetrius Byrd with 0:20 left in the third quarter and a 32-yard pass to Doucet with late in the fourth quarter. The TD passes were Flynn’s ninth, 10th and 11th of the season and 19th, 20th and 21st of his career.
a. Flynn’s reception in the first quarter was the first by an LSU quarterback on a designed play since Herb Tyler pulled down a pass on Oct. 31, 1998 at Ole Miss. The pass was thrown by RB Kevin Faulk.
b. Flynn finished with career highs in attempts (44), completions (24) and passing yards (353).
17. S Chad Jones recorded the first sack of his career with 2:40 left in the first quarter and added another one with 1:39 remaining in the game.
a. Jones tallied a forced fumble, the first of his career, that set up the game-winning touchdown late in the fourth quarter.
18. RB Jacob Hester scored a touchdown on a one-yard run on the first play of the second quarter and added another score on a one-yard carry with 1:26 left in the game. His rushing touchdowns were the sixth and seventh of the season and the 14th and 15th of his career.
19. With first quarter tackles, LB Ali Highsmith extended his streak to 35 straight games with a tackle, DT Glenn Dorsey extended his streak to 25 straight games, S Craig Steltz extended his streak to 19 straight games. Third quarter tackles by CB Chevis Jackson and CB Jonathan Zenon extended their streaks to 19 straight games with a tackle.
20. WR Demetrius Byrd pulled down a 61-yard pass from Matt Flynn with 0:20 left in the third quarter. The TD was Byrd’s fourth of the season and his career.
a. Byrd’s 6 receptions and his 144 yards are both career highs. It marked the first 100-yard receiving game of his career. The 144 receiving yards are the most by an LSU receiver since Devery Henderson recorded 201 yards at Kentucky on Nov. 9, 2002.