Saturday, October 22, 2005
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TUSCALOOSA, Ala. (AP) - For a second straight week, Jamie Christensen kicked a game-winning field goal. This one was a whole lot bigger.
Christensen booted a 34-yard field goal with 13 seconds left to lift fifth-ranked Alabama to a 6-3 triumph over No. 17 Tennessee in a defensive-minded Southeastern Conference grudge match.
Last week, Christensen kicked a 31-yard field goal as time expired to keep Alabama's perfect season alive in a 13-10 triumph at Mississippi. But this one meant a lot more for the Crimson Tide (7-0, 5-0 SEC West), who had lost nine of the last 10 meetings with the Volunteers, including a 51-43 setback in five overtimes here two years ago.
After a scoreless first half, Tennessee freshman Lucas Taylor fumbled a punt that Alabama DeMeco Ryans recovered with 3:19 left in the third quarter, setting up a 33-yard field goal by Christensen on the final play of the period.
Taylor redeemed himself by returning the ensuing kickoff to midfield, and Rick Clausen found Jason Swain for a 35-yard pass on the next play, leading to a tying 33-yard field goal by James Wilhoit with 11:52 remaining.
Tennessee was driving for a go-ahead score when fullback Corey Anderson was hit by safety Roman Harper at the 5 and the ball went out of the end zone for a touchback with 5:08 left.
On 3rd-and-8 on Alabama's ensuing possession, Brodie Croyle found D.J. Hall for a 42-yard gain to the 36. After five rushes, including a first-down pickup by Kenneth Darby, Christensen gave the Crimson Tide the lead by splitting the uprights on his 34-yard attempt.
The Vols (3-3, 2-3 East) were penalized returning the ensuing kickoff, and Erik Ainge's desperation pass from the Tennessee 5 was intercepted by Ryans with no time left.
It was the Vols' first game here since it was reveled that coach Phillip Fulmer secretly gave the NCAA damaging information about Alabama's recruiting tactics five years ago, helping lead to the Crimson Tide being placed on probation in 2002. Fulmer had been 10-2 vs. Alabama, including 3-0 in Tuscaloosa.
Clausen completed 11-of-17 passes for 144 yards for the Vols, who managed just three points on three trips to the red zone. Star running back Gerald Riggs lost a fumble at the 9 in the first quarter.
Croyle went 17-of-27 for 190 yards.