McCarron Leads Stunning Drive to Cap Comeback Win Over LSU

Nov. 3, 2012

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GAME INFO
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SCORING SUMMARY
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Passing
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BATON ROUGE, La. - Alabama running back T.J. Yeldon took a swing pass from quarterback AJ McCarron and raced 28 yards for a touchdown with 51 seconds left in the game to cap a frantic 72-yard drive in five plays to give top-ranked Alabama Crimson Tide to a stunning 21-17 victory over 5th-ranked LSU on Saturday night in Tiger Stadium.

After a missed LSU field goal attempt with 1:34 remaining in the game, Alabama took over at its own 28-yard line facing a 17-14 deficit. McCarron smoothly led the Crimson Tide downfield for the go-ahead score, hitting passes on three successive plays to start the drive: an 18-yard pass to receiver Kevin Norwood to the Alabama 46, a 15-yarder to Norwood to the LSU 39, and an 11-yarder to Norwood to the LSU 28. After the next play was an incompletion, McCarron found Yeldon alone in the left flat and he did the rest, eluding two would-be tacklers behind good blocking to complete the drive.

Prior to that march by Alabama, this classic had all the makings of a stunning upset as LSU quarterback Zach Mettenberger passed for 296 yards, including 206 in the second half, to lead the Tigers to a 17-14 lead in the final stages of the game. Mettenberger and the LSU offense consistently made big plays, particularly in third down situations, while the Alabama defense was surprisingly vulnerable in the second half. LSU's offense mounted scoring drives of 58 and 90 yards on consecutive possessions in the second half, played turnover-free football and unveiled an explosive passing game in the second half.

LSU lost despite converting 10 of 20 third downs into first downs while Alabama went 1-for-9 on the night in third down conversions. The Tide overcame a minus-two turnover margin, gave up multiple plays of more than 20 and 30 yards and allowed the most total yards (435) to an opponent since LSU gained 433 in 2010, a 24-21 Crimson Tide loss.

But Alabama overcame all of that, committing just one penalty for 15 yards in the game and staying poised in the late going. McCarron finished the night 14-of-27 passing for 165 yards and one touchdown while Norwood led the Tide with five catches for 62 yards. Eddie Lacy rushed for 83 yards and one touchdown and Yeldon rushed for 76 yards.

Linebackers Nico Johnson and Adrian Hubbard led all tacklers with 12 stops apiece. Safety Nick Perry had 10 stops as did linebacker Trey Depriest. Cornerback Dee Milliner had eight tackles, two for losses totaling 14 yards, and one quarterback sack for nine yards.

After an exchange of punts on both teams' first possessions, LSU mounted a scoring threat. The Tigers took over at their own 26-yard line and used their running game most of the way with running backs Jeremy Hill and Spencer Ware combining for five carries for 24 yards on the march and a 19-yard run by receiver Russell Shepard (who lined up as a back on the play) sparking the drive on the first play of the possession. The march stalled at the Alabama 21 where, on a fourth-and-six play, placekicker Drew Alleman kicked a 38-yard field goal to give LSU the early lead at 3-0 with 6:11 left in the first quarter.

The deficit marked only the second time since early in the 2011 Tennessee game that Alabama has trailed in a game during regulation, with the other deficit coming against Ole Miss this season. That deficit lasted on 15 seconds of game time as Christion Jones ran the ensuing kickoff for a touchdown.

Alabama took the lead with an impressive 92-yard, 11-play drive early in the second quarter, a march that consumed six minutes of game time. The Crimson Tide started the possession at its own 8-yard line after an LSU punt. Running back T.J. Yeldon took a pitch on the first play and raced around left tackle for 15 yards. On the next play, h-back Kelly Johnson took a short McCarron pass for 12 yards to the Alabama 33. After a five-yard run by Yeldon, McCarron hit tight end Michael Williams on a short pass that Williams turned into a 16-yard gain to the LSU 46. McCarron then connected with Williams again for a six-yard gain and Yeldon carried off left guard for six more to the LSU 34. Yeldon took another handoff up the middle for 12 to the LSU 22.

After a run for two by Yeldon, Lacy ran for two more to the LSU 18. On third-and-seven from there, wide receiver Christion Jones took a screen pass and reversed field behind several blocks for a 12-yard gain to the LSU 7. From there, running back Eddie Lacy took a handoff off right guard and ran it in for a 7-yard touchdown. Jeremy Shelley's conversion kick was good to give Alabama a 7-3 lead with 8:17 left in the second quarter. The 92-yard Alabama drive was the longest surrendered by the LSU defense this season.

A major mistake in the kicking game produced an LSU scoring threat a short time later. LSU was forced to punt on the possession after Alabama had taken the 7-3 lead, Crimson Tide return man Cyrus Jones tried to field a bouncing punt at the Tide 36-yard line, but couldn't gather it in and lost a fumble that was recovered by LSU at the Tide 32. LSU's Jeremy Hill took a handoff on the first play for a 20-yard gain to the Alabama 12-yard line but the play was negated by a dead ball unnecessary roughness penalty on LSU that moved the ball back to the Tide 28. The drive stalled there and ended on when a pass on a fake field goal was stopped for a loss of two yards to the Alabama 33.

After Alabama punter Cody Mandell's 56-yard punt went out of bounds at the LSU 9, the Tigers mounted a drive. On the second play, Tiger quarterback Zach Mettenberger zipped a deep pass down the middle to running back Spencer Ware and the play went for 39 yards to the LSU 47. Mettenberger then connected with receiver Jarvis Landry for seven yards to the Alabama 46. Ware ran for three to before Mettenberger connected with Nic Jacobs for eight yards to the Tide 35 for a first down. Ware was stopped for a loss of two and an incomplete pass forced a 54-yard field goal attempt by Alleman that was short and the Tide took over.

From there, Alabama embarked on a 63-yard touchdown drive in only 57 seconds to extend its lead. Lacy rushed for 11 yards to the Tide 48. McCarron was sacked for a five-yard loss to the 43 and Alabama called timeout with 49 seconds left in the first half. Facing second-and-15, McCarron hit a screen pass to Lacy that gained 19 yards to the LSU 38.

McCarron followed that with a pass to wide receiver Kevin Norwood for 10 more to the LSU 28. On the next play, McCarron tried to connect with receiver Kenny Bell in the middle of the field at the LSU 16, but the pass was incomplete. LSU safety Ronald Martin, who was in the game due to an injury to starting safety Eric Reid, was flagged for pass interference and a first down at the LSU 17.

On the next play, McCarron was flushed from the pocked and rolled to his right before passing for eight yards to Norwood along the sideline at the LSU 9. From there, on a pass play, McCarron discovered a wide open running lane in the middle of the field and ran untouched for a nine-yard touchdown run to give Alabama a 14-3 lead with 11 seconds left in the second quarter.

Early in the third quarter LSU marched 58 yards in 13 plays consuming 6:59 off the clock on a touchdown drive to narrow the margin. LSU took over at the Tiger 42 after an Alabama punt. Three plays later, on third and seven from the LSU 45, Mettenberger passed under heavy pressure to receiver Kadron Boone on a short curl route. Boone escaped the tackle of Tide cornerback Dee Milliner and gained 19 yards to the Alabama 36. Hill carried around the left side for four yards, the gained two more on a carry up the middle. On third-and-four from the Tide 30, Hill rushed up the middle for five yards and a first down at the Alabama 25. Hill took a pitch sweep to the left for two to the 23. Ware took a quick pitch up the middle for a rush of three yards to set up a third-and-five at the Tide 20.

Mettenberger passed to Odell Beckham Jr. for six yards and a first down at the Tide 14. Running back J.C. Copeland gained four yards on a run on first down. Hill carried off left guard for four to the Alabama six-yard line. A false start on the next play turned a third-and-two play into a third-and-seven play at the Alabama 11-yard line. Mettenberger then passed to Jarvis Landry to the Tide one-yard line for a first down, from where Hill took a handoff and leaped into the end zone for a touchdown. Alleman's point-after kick cut the Alabama lead to 14-10 with 3:35 left in the third quarter. The touchdown marked LSU's first touchdown against Alabama since the fourth quarter of the 2010 game in Baton Rouge.

On the ensuing kickoff, LSU kicker James Hairston attempted an onside kick but he illegally touched the football before it had traveled the mandatory 10 yards required for possession. That gave Alabama the ball at the LSU 44-yard line. Alabama's offense responded and appeared to be moving for another score exclusively behind the running of Yeldon who, on successive plays, ran for four around left tackle, took a handoff around right tackle for 23 yards to the LSU 17, carried up the middle for five more to the LSU 12, and took a handoff off left guard for two to set up a third-and-three at the LSU 10. On the next play, Yeldon took a handoff and fumbled when he was hit at the LSU 10. LSU defensive end Sam Montgomery recovered the fumble for the Tigers at the 10 with 1:06 left in the third quarter.

Two plays later, Copeland took a short pass and bounced off two missed tackles for a 42-yard gain to the Alabama 45. Facing third-and-seven at Alabama 41, Mettenberger hit Landry on a short pass on which Landry beat safety Vinnie Sunseri for a 23-yard gain to the Tide 18. Hill rushed for four, and then Mettenberger hit Landry for a touchdown over Tide cornerback Deion Belue. Alleman's point-after kick gave LSU a 17-14 lead with 12:58 left in the fourth quarter.

On the second play after an Alabama punt, a second-and-16 situation at the LSU 31, Mettenberger passed to a wide open Beckham who turned the play into a 36-yard gain to the Alabama 33. Three plays later, facing a fourth-and-one at the 23, Ware lined up at quarterback in the wildcat formation and took a direct snap but was repelled by the Alabama defense for no gain.