FRIDAY FLASHBACK: Barker Leads Tide to Comeback; Clinches SEC West Title

ROLLTIDEDOTCOM
ROLLTIDEDOTCOM

ROLLTIDEDOTCOM

By Barry Allen
UA Media Relations

STARKVILLE, Miss. ?? Trailing by 10 points with less than eight minutes left the in fourth quarter, the University of Alabama football turned to its all-time winningest quarterback to keep its perfect record intact.

Jay Barker, who went 35-2-1 in his career as Alabama’s starting quarterback, led the Crimson Tide to a pair of fourth-quarter scoring drives en route to a 29-25 come-from-behind win over the Mississippi State Bulldogs in front of 41,358 fans and an ABC regional television audience on Nov. 12, 1994.

The win clinched Alabama’s third straight SEC Western Division Championship and kept the Tide’s undefeated season alive with a 10-0 record.  It marked the Tide’s 24th 10-win season, an NCAA record at the time.

Barker completed 26 of 35 passes for 325 yards and three touchdowns in the win.  At one point in the game, he completed a school-record 11 consecutive passes. The old mark was 10 straight completions by Gary Hollingsworth who did it twice in1989 against Ole Miss and LSU.

I’ve seen a lot of college quarterbacks, but he’s the best I’ve ever seen,” Mississippi State head coach Jackie Sherrill said. “He’s the best by far in the clutch.”

Curtis Brown finished with a career-high eight receptions for 153 yards, which included a 42-yard TD pass from Barker that pulled the Tide to within 25-22 with 5:20 left in the game.

Mississippi State (7-3, 4-3 SEC) took a 25-15 lead with 7:57 left in the fourth quarter when Tim Rogers drilled a 21-yard field goal.

Following the field goal, Alabama took over at its own 35, but Barker was immediately sacked by Larry Williams for a 7-yard loss.  On second down from the UA 28, Barker hit Toderick Malone for a short 1-yard gain.  Facing a third-and-16, Barker hooked up with Marcel West for an 18-yard gain to the Tide 47.  He then hit Brown for a nine-yard completion to the MSU 44.  Sherman Williams ran for two yards and a first down to the MSU 42.  After an incomplete pass, Barker connected with Brown on a 42-yard scoring strike with 5:20 left in the game.  Michael Proctor’s extra point cut the MSU lead to 25-22.

State went three-and-out on its next possession and Alabama appeared to have the ball near midfield, but an illegal block penalty by Alabama on DeShea Townsend’s 17-yard punt return moved the ball back to the Tide 34.

Barker hit Brown for an 11-yard gain and then hit fullback Tarrant Lynch out of the backfield for an 11-yard gain to the MSU 44.  After an incomplete pass, Barker’s swing pass to Williams covered 28 yards to the MSU 16.  Lynch made seven yards on first down and Dennis Riddle’s 4-yard run gave the Tide first-and-goal at the 5. 

“It’s important for me to know what my job is and to be able to do it,” Lynch said.  “At Alabama, the fullback is used primarily as a blocker.  But I know that when I run the ball, it’s important and I feel like my ability to catch the ball is one of my biggest assets.”

Alabama managed only 46 rushing yards against the tough MSU defense, but ran the ball when they needed the winning score.  Williams ran 23 times for 45 yards and Riddle added three carries for nine yards, including the game-winning TD.

“We wanted to be sure we scored,” Alabama offensive coordinator Woody McCorvey said.  “But we felt we could run the ball.  That’s why, when we called the guys over, we told them ??we’re going to run this thing in. You need to knock them off the ball.’”

Williams picked up three yards on first down.  After an MSU timeout, Williams ran to the MSU 1.  On third-and-goal, Riddle powered over from the 1-yard line to give the Tide the lead with 51 seconds left in the game.  Proctor’s extra point made it 29-25.

State took over at its own 20 and misfired on its first two pass attempts.  On third down, Derrick Taite hit Greer with a 7-yard completion, forcing MSU to use its last timeout.  Following the timeout, Dameian Jeffries batted down Taite’s fourth down pass and the Tide’s fifth fourth-quarter comeback win was sealed.