Alabama Football Flashback: Alexander The Great

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ROLLTIDEDOTCOM

ROLLTIDEDOTCOM

Alexander The Great
 Tide Freshman Sets School Record with 291 Rushing Yards at LSU in 1996

BATON ROUGE, La. - A seldom used redshirt freshman torched the LSU defense and ran his way into the University of Alabama record books with a 291-yard rushing performance as the Crimson Tide shutout the Tigers 26-0 on a chilly night in Tiger Stadium on Nov. 9, 1996.

Playing the game as the Crimson Tide’s second-string running back, Alexander had 20 carries for 291 yards and scored four touchdowns en route to one of the greatest single-game performances in Alabama football history.  Alexander ran 19 times for 274 yards and three touchdowns in the second half.  His only rushing attempt in the first was a 17-yard TD run that gave UA a 7-0 halftime lead.

“Shaun Alexander is going to be a really good football player,” Alabama head coach Gene Stallings said following the win.  “It’s just a matter of time.  He’s got speed, size and he’s going to be a good player.  You’ve got to give our (offensive) line a little credit; they gave him some holes.

LSU missed two first quarter field goals as the teams battled to a scoreless tie after one quarter.

Alabama accounted for the only points in the second quarter to take a 7-0 lead on its second possession of the period.

Following an LSU punt, Alabama took over at its own 49-yard line and scored in four plays.  Alexander’s only rushing attempt of the first half resulted in a 17-yard touchdown run and Jon Brock’s extra point made it 7-0 with 10:42 left in the half.

Neither Alabama nor LSU mounted any kind of significant drive the rest of the quarter and the Tide took a hard-fought seven-point lead into the lockerroom at halftime, despite being out-gained 168-95 in total yards.

The third quarter began much like the first half, with the teams exchanging punts. Alabama quarterback Freddie Kitchens fumbled on the Tide’s next possession and LSU defensive end Anthony McFarland recovered at the UA 36-yard line.  The Tide defense stiffened again as LSU holder Casey Taber’s pass fell incomplete on a fake field goal attempt on fourth-and12 from the UA 27.

From there, Alabama, and particularly Alexander, took over.

Following the incomplete pass on UA’s second possession, Alexander took the handoff from Kitchens and raced 73 yards for his second touchdown of the game.  Brock’s extra point attempt was blocked leaving the score 13-0 with 8:27 left in the third quarter.

For Alexander it was two rushing attempts, 89 yards and two touchdowns.  Something pretty special was in the making.

Alexander had one rushing attempt for 17 yards in the first half.  In the second half, it was the Alexander show. He ran six times for 161 yards and two touchdowns in the third quarter, scoring on runs of 72 and 73 yards.  In the fourth quarter, he added 13 carries for 113 yards and one touchdown to cap his record-setting night on the bayou.

The teams continued to exchange punts until the final two minutes of the third quarter when Alexander broke off another long run. 

Beginning from its own 18-yard line, Alabama scored in three plays.  After an illegal procedure penalty, Alexander gained three and Kitchens completed an 11-yard pass to Shamari Buchanan to the 28.  Alexander took another handoff and raced 72 yards for his second touchdown of the quarter to make it 19-0 with 28 seconds left in the third quarter.  Kitchens pass on the two-point attempt was intercepted.

Alexander finished the third quarter with six rushing attempts for 161 yards and two touchdowns.  He entered the fourth quarter with 178 rushing yards and Bobby Humphrey’s school record of 284 yards in his grasp.

He ran six times for 36 yards on UA’s next possession, which resulted in a punt.  On the Tide’s next possession, which began at the UA 36-yard line, he ran five times for 65 yards.  He capped the 6-play, 63-yard drive with a 12-yard touchdown run with 4:28 to play.  Brock’s extra point made it 26-0.

For the night, Alexander had 18 rushing attempts for 280 yards, leaving him four yards shy of Humphrey’s single-game mark he set against Mississippi State in Starkville 10 years earlier.

After another LSU punt, Alexander got one last shot at Humphrey’s single-game record.  On first-and-10 from the UA 25-yard line, Alexander lost one yard to drop back to 279 yards.  On second down, Alexander ripped off a 12-yard run to move the chains and leap Humphrey into the top spot on the UA rushing list.

He left the game to standing ovation from the Tide faithful that remained in an almost empty Tiger Stadium.  The Tide ran out the clock and Alexander was off to greatness.

Alabama had 410 rushing yards on 51 carries in the win over LSU. 

As good as Alexander was on offense, the Tide defense was equally impressive in the shutout. 

Alabama held LSU to 248 total yards, including 80 yards in the second half.  The Tigers, one the SEC’s top rushing teams, ran the ball 25 times for 52 yards in the loss.  A trio of LSU quarterbacks completed 11 of 41 passes for 196 yards and threw two interceptions.

Dewayne Rudd led UA with eight tackles, including one behind the line.  Michael Myers, Tyrell Buckner and Kevin Jackson had six tackles each for the Crimson Tide.  Alabama also added eight tackles for loss and five pass breakups in its first shutout of LSU since a 4-0 win in Baton Rouge in 1979.

But the night belonged to Alexander, who would later become the school’s most prolific runner with 3, 565 career rushing yards on 727 attempts in his four-year career.