TUSCALOOSA, Ala. (AP) -- Freshman walk-on Leigh Tiffin hit a
47-yard field goal in the fourth quarter, lifting Alabama to a
13-10 victory over Vanderbilt on Saturday.
Subbing for an injured Jamie Christensen, Tiffin became the
unlikely hero as the Crimson Tide (2-0, 1-0 Southeastern
Conference) extended its winning streak over the Commodores to 18
games despite an array of drive-killing mistakes.
Vandy (0-2, 0-1) appeared to force another one, sacking John
Parker Wilson for a 13-yard loss on third-and-8.
Alabama coach Mike Shula, who had earlier called for a fake
field goal rather than have Tiffin try a 41-yarder, turned to him
to win the game. The son of famed former Tide kicker Van Tiffin
sent a line-drive through the uprights with 7:34 left.
Alabama had salvaged the opportunity when Wilson sidestepped a
defender and hit Nikita Stover for a 36-yard pass on third-and-18.
The Commodores then went three-and-out on the subsequent
possession, and the Tide ran out most of the final 5:01.
Vandy got one final chance, taking over at its own 15 with 48
Nickson threw two incompletions and a clock-burning short pass
to Earl Bennett before scrambling 9 yards to the sideline. His
desperation downfield pass was intercepted by Juwan Simpson to end
The drama was unusual for the series, and subdued Tide fans
seemed more relieved than thrilled afterward.
Shula was a sophomore quarterback for Alabama the last time
Vandy won a game in the series, back in 1984. Instead, the Tide won
its 15th consecutive SEC opener.
Shula's team couldn't put this one away until the end thanks to
a number of squandered scoring chances, failing to get points three
times after driving inside the Vandy 35.
But Simeon Castille intercepted two passes by Nickson, the
second setting up Tiffin's second field goal. He has started the
first two games in place of Christensen, out with a groin injury.
Wilson completed 18-of-29 passes for 207 yards, including an
interception and a 31-yard touchdown pass to DJ Hall. That TD tied
the game at 10-all on the opening drive of the third quarter.
Wilson and Nickson were both making their SEC debuts as
starters. Nickson, a former Alabama prep Mr. Football from
Brundidge, was 15-of-23 passing for 140 yards with a TD and three
picks. He also ran for 40 yards.
Vandy soured Tide fans' halftime mood with a late 87-yard drive
following a turnover to take a 10-3 lead. Nickson fired a 6-yard
pass to Bennett, splitting two defenders in the end zone for his
first career TD pass.