7:45 PM ET, November 13, 2004
Tiger Stadium, BATON ROUGE, LA
BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) -- Just as predicted, two of the top-rated defenses came up big Saturday night. LSU's defense just came up a little bit bigger.
LSU defensive end Marcus Spears and linebacker Cameron Vaughn combined for the go-ahead touchdown to help the Tigers (No. 15 ESPN/USA Today, No. 17 AP) beat Alabama 26-10.
With the Tigers trailing 10-6 in the third quarter, Spears hit Alabama quarterback Spencer Pennington on the Crimson Tide 8, forcing a fumble. Vaughn picked up the ball and scampered in for the TD to give LSU its first lead.
"I saw him hanging out there and I thought he was going to throw it before I got to him," Spears said. "He still had it hanging, so I just swiped for it and was fortunate to get it on the ground. Then I looked, thinking it was going out of bounds and there goes Cameron."
The game lived up to its billing as a defensive battle. Alabama has the No. 1 defense in the nation and LSU is No. 4.
LSU, averaging 401 yards a game, was held to 283 yards. The Tigers gained 192 yards rushing and Marcus Randall and JaMarcus Russell combined to complete six of 14 passes for 91 yards.
Alabama, which came in averaging 353.8 yards, gained 196 yards, including 82 yards rushing. Pennington was 7-of-15 for 114 yards and one interception.
"We made some mistakes on defense that gave them some plays in the first half," LSU coach Nick Saban said. "But what a great second half, coming back out great defensively and scoring a touchdown defensively."
Alabama's Kenneth Darby, coming off a 200-yard performance a week ago at Mississippi State and averaging 106.3 yards, gained 109 yards. It was only the second time this season that LSU allowed a 100-yard rusher.
"That's basically their game," defensive tackle Kyle Williams said. "They like to pound the ball at you and make you stop them. I think we did well enough and kept them out of the end zone. Darby made some yards, but it ultimately turned out our way."
It was the ninth straight home victory for LSU (7-2, 4-2 Southeastern Conference) and a rare victory over the Crimson Tide (6-4, 3-4) in Tiger Stadium.
Since LSU's 20-15 victory over the Tide in 1969, Alabama is 15-2-1 in Baton Rouge. Since Saban's arrival in Baton Rouge, LSU has won four out of four games against Alabama, including two in Tuscaloosa.
After getting no where running the ball on its first possession, Alabama went to the air. Pennington hit Matt Caddell with a 48-yard pass to take the Tide to the LSU 5. Three plays later Darby ran the final yard to put Alabama up 7-0.
LSU drove to the 3 to start the second quarter, but Russell was sacked for a 12-yard loss and the Tigers settled for a 32-yard field goal to make it 7-3.
Alabama pulled ahead with a 26-yard field goal that made it 10-3. The Tigers kept pace with a 28-yard field goal to pull to 10-6 at halftime.
"When you go into a game like that, and you get a lead at halftime, you talk about finishing and 30 minutes to go," Alabama coach Mike Shula said.
"You come out and have two great starting drives in the third quarter and you come up with no points. Then you get a turnover and you get backed up; the worst things that could possibly happen, happened to us there. We lost momentum, we lost the lead and there was a struggle from that point on."
Pennington said: "We always talk about coming out fast in the second half. We really didn't do that. But if you play a team like they are, it's not going to turn out the way we wanted it to."
After the third quarter heroics by Spears and Vaughn, LSU's offense got on track in the fourth quarter. The Tigers put together a four-play, 63-yard drive that ended with a 35-yard touchdown pass from Russell to Joseph Addai to make it 20-10.
The Tigers missed a 39-yard field goal and Addai closed out the scoring with a 47-yard touchdown run.
"Everybody asked us what have you got to play for," Saban said. "You play for your pride. It means something. You beat Alabama, it means something."
Team Stat Comparison
|3rd Down Conversions||3-16||4-13|
|4th Down Conversions||1-1||0-0|
|TD||4:27||KENNETH DARBY 1 YD RUN (BRIAN BOSTICK KICK)|
Drive info: 4 plays, 53 yards.
|FG||12:17||RYAN GAUDET 32 YD FG|
Drive info: 8 plays, 35 yards.
|FG||5:24||BRIAN BOSTICK 26 YD FG|
Drive info: 14 plays, 72 yards.
|FG||1:37||RYAN GAUDET 28 YD FG|
Drive info: 9 plays, 65 yards.
|TD||5:01||CAMERON VAUGHN 8 YD DEFENSIVE FUMBLE RETURN (RYAN GAUDET KICK)||10||13|
|TD||9:38||JOSEPH ADDAI 35 YD PASS FROM JAMARCUS RUSSELL (RYAN GAUDET KICK)|
Drive info: 4 plays, 63 yards.
|TD||4:32||JOSEPH ADDAI 47 YD RUN (MISSED KICK)|
Drive info: 2 plays, 49 yards.