clear
Saturday May 23rd, 2015 6:26AM

Tide stages improbable rally to beat LSU

By The Associated Press
Related Articles
BATON ROUGE, LOUISIANA -- With Alabama's hopes of a second straight national title slipping away, A.J. McCarron shook off a dismal second half and guided the Crimson Tide right down the field.

Talk about a Saturday night stunner in Death Valley.

McCarron read an LSU blitz and flipped a screen pass to T.J. Yeldon, who did the rest on a 28-yard touchdown with 51 seconds remaining that gave the top-ranked Crimson Tide a 21-17 victory over No. 5 LSU.

Alabama (9-0, 6-0 Southeastern Conference) now has a clear path to the league championship game in Atlanta, and remains solidly on course to defend its national title in Miami.

But this one was a struggle. Led by embattled quarterback Zach Mettenberger, LSU (7-2, 3-2) fought back from a 14-3 halftime deficit with an offensive performance that was nothing like their dismal showing against the Tide in last season's BCS championship game.

Jeremy Hill scored on a 1-yard run late in the third quarter, LSU's first TD against Alabama since 2010 - a span of nearly three full games. Then Mettenberger threw perhaps the best pass of his LSU career, hooking up with Jarvis Landry on a 14-yard touchdown that put the Tigers ahead 17-14 with just under 13 minutes remaining.

LSU was on the verge of putting the game away, driving into Alabama territory and forcing coach Nick Saban to call his remaining timeouts. But Drew Alleman missed a 38-yard field goal, and McCarron took over from there.

He completed three straight passes to put Alabama in scoring position. Then, when LSU brought a corner blitz, he got the ball away quickly to Yeldon. The freshman running back broke one tackle and faked out another defender, racing to the end zone for the winning score.

"I'm really, really pleased with that last drive," Saban said. "That's something I'll never forget."

Before the final drive, McCarron was 1 of 7 for 0 yards in the second half. All was forgiven when he guided the Crimson Tide on a lightning-quick 72-yard drive, connecting with Kevin Norwood on three straight passes covering 18, 15 and 11 yards against an LSU defense that was giving some room short. McCarron took one shot at the end zone, the ball falling to the turf when both the receiver and the defender fell down.

But, with a much shorter throw, he hit paydirt on the very next play.

Mettenberger, who had gotten much of the blame for LSU's lackluster offense, suddenly put it all together for the Tigers in the second half. But LSU couldn't overcome the nation's top-ranked team and some dubious calls by coach Les Miles.

The Mad Hatter kept reaching into his bag of tricks - and kept getting burned. A fake field goal was stuffed. An onside kick didn't work. And going for it on fourth down in Alabama territory didn't work out either.

"I wish I had a couple of my calls back," Miles said. "That's the way it goes."

Mettenberger nearly bailed out his coach. He finished 24 of 35 for a career-best 298 yards, with 14 of those completions for 202 yards coming over the final two quarters.

Alabama has not been behind in the fourth quarter since 2010, and sure didn't have much experience at playing with a deficit in 2012. The Tide arrived in Baton Rouge having trailed for a grand total of 15 seconds this season - one play against Mississippi - and when McCarron took off on a 9-yard touchdown run with just 11 second left in the first half it looked like a repeat of last January's national championship game.

But LSU was determined not to turn in another embarrassing performance like the one in the Superdome, when a perfect season ended with a dismal 21-0 loss to the Crimson Tide. The Tigers managed only 92 yards and five first downs in that game; this time, they put up 435 yards and 17 first downs against the nation's top-ranked defense.

It still wasn't enough.

"I told the players they would have to overcome a lot of adversity to win a game here," Saban said. "Things went bad. The momentum changed. But they kept their poise, kept playing, kept competing. I've never been prouder of as bunch of guys."
© Copyright 2015 AccessNorthGa.com
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
Tech beats Southern California in Sun Bowl
Tevin Washington threw a touchdown pass and ran for another score to help Georgia Tech beat Southern California 21-7 on Monday in the Sun Bowl.
5:54PM ( 2 years ago )
Top 10 sports stories of the year: 2012 one for the history books
2012 has been all things to all people in the sports world. The last 12 months have run the gamut of emotions and given fans and spectators much to awe, rue and everything in between.
2:33PM ( 2 years ago )
College Football Hall to break ground in Atlanta
Groundbreaking for the new College Football Hall of Fame in Atlanta will be Jan. 28 and the museum is scheduled to open in the fall of 2014.
2:15PM ( 2 years ago )
Sports
Tech's 2nd half surge beats Fordham 73-48
Daniel Miller and Robert Carter Jr. each scored 14 points and Georgia Tech scored 17 straight points in the second half en route to a 73-48 victory over Fordham on Saturday night.
10:17PM ( 2 years ago )
Djurisic's career night leads Dogs past Florida A&M
Nemanja Djurisic scored a career-high 21 points and Georgia won its third straight Saturday 82-73 over Florida A&M.
7:26PM ( 2 years ago )
Ga. Southern beats Ga. State, 68-64 in overtime
Eric Ferguson scored 24 points and Georgia Southern overcame a late double-digit deficit to beat Georgia State 68-64 in overtime on Saturday.
7:25PM ( 2 years ago )
College Sports
VIDEO: Wolves could care less about rankings -- they want a ring
Seniors Joey Bart, Jake Higginbotham, Connor Bennett, and Keyton Gibson aren’t worried about expectations at this point in the season. They know first hand expectations usually are worth about as much as it cost you to listen to them...
5:00PM ( 10 hours from now )
How do you measure clutch? Gainesville baseball provides the metric
In three straight postseasons, Gainesville baseball players watched in agony as -- at the crucial moment -- the other team made the play.
4:59PM ( 10 hours from now )
Battle-tested Dragons ready to pull off another road win in championship series
Forget “Mad Max,” Jefferson baseball might as well be re-making its own movie of similar vein this spring -- starring as themselves in “The Road Warrior(s).”
11:59PM ( 6 hours ago )
James leads Cavs to 94-82 win over Hawks, 2-0 series lead
LeBron James scored 30 points and the Cleveland Cavaliers took total command of the Eastern Conference final even without injured star Kyrie Irving, routing the Atlanta Hawks 94-82 on Friday night for a 2-0 lead with the series heading to Ohio.
11:02PM ( 7 hours ago )
Braun powers Brewers to easy win over Braves
Ryan Braun homered and drove in four runs, four Milwaukee pitchers combined to hold Atlanta to three hits, and the Brewers beat the Braves 11-0 on Friday night.
10:57PM ( 7 hours ago )