LSU hands Alabama first loss

Associated Press
Published November 13, 2005

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. - JaMarcus Russell ad-libbed an 11-yard touchdown pass to Dwayne Bowe as No.5 LSU bounced No.4 and previous unbeaten Alabama from the national title picture 16-13 in overtime Saturday.

LSU, 4-1 this season against ranked teams, can clinch a berth in the SEC title game with victories over Mississippi and Arkansas.

"We came in to win the SEC and win the national championship," Alabama quarterback Brodie Croyle said. "That's what everybody signs at Alabama to do. The fact that we're not going to be able to do either one unless something crazy happens and we had it right in front of us, it's a tough pill to swallow."

After Alabama kicked a field goal to open overtime, Russell, from Mobile, Ala., hit Justin Vincent on a swing pass for 10 yards. But he was stopped for no gain when he couldn't find an open receiver, and a reverse to Xavier Carter went for 4 yards, forcing a third and 6.

"We were thinking the game might be over," Croyle said. "Their kicker had been shaky all day."

LSU won it without having to turn to Chris Jackson, who had already missed 3 of 4 field goals but tied it with a 42-yarder with 5:46 left in the third.

Russell rolled right and threw a strike over the middle to Bowe.

"We tried to run the post, but things weren't looking the way they needed to," Russell said. "(Bowe) was my first read. I kept an eye open for him. I eyeballed the safety to get him to bite on the tight end."

Alabama opened overtime with a drive that went the way most of its second-half possessions did: nowhere. It started with a 5-yard penalty then failed to convert on third and 2 when Croyle rolled right under pressure and couldn't complete a pass to tailback Kenneth Darby.

The Tigers had their chances in the fourth, forcing Alabama to punt from its end zone on consecutive drives. But Jackson narrowly missed wide left on a 47-yard field goal then pushed a 49-yarder right of the goal post with 54 seconds left. He missed a 43-yarder in the first half.

Alabama couldn't connect downfield on its final possession of regulation, but came close. Croyle hit tailback Glen Coffee in the flat, and he raced down the sideline before several defenders brought him down just inside the 10 with time expired.

Before that, the Tide had gone three consecutive possessions without a first down and managed only 6 yards in the second half after gaining 207 in building a 10-0 halftime lead.

Alabama's defense had pushed its streak without allowing a touchdown to 17 quarters before Vincent's 1-yard run on fourth and 1 in the third. LSU's streak ended at nine quarters on Croyle's 8-yard pass to D.J. Hall in the second.