Down with the tide! LSU leads Alabama in overtime to take control of the SEC West | LSU

Down with the tide! LSU leads Alabama in overtime to take control of the SEC West | LSU

No one will complain that they rushed the field this time, because everyone was down there, swarming the bottom of Tiger Stadium as smoke from fireworks filled the air above them and the deafening noise carried into the night.

As soon as Jayden Daniels rolled to his right and fired the game-winning 2-point conversion to freshman Taylor Mason Taylor in overtime, LSU fans burst out of the stands. Not just the student section this time. They came from all over, creating a wild celebration on Saturday night, and why not?

LSU 32, Alabama 31.

The score will continue throughout LSU history. He did not end his losing streak. It wasn’t as cathartic as 2019. But it gave the No. 10 Tigers control of the Southeastern Conference’s West Division, put in sight a championship game in coach Brian Kelly’s first season and secured a home win over Alabama for the fourth time since 1969.

Why go there for two at all? Kelly looked at his team and felt confident. The Tigers (7-2, 5-1 SEC) were double-digit underdogs, and Kelly said anyone would have told him earlier that they would have one game to beat No. 6 Alabama (7-2, 4-2) take it every road.

“It kind of hit me like that,” Kelly said. “And I knew we had a really good play that we didn’t capitalize on and that they didn’t see.”

The call was the “Montana Hot Express,” a play designed for that situation that LSU practiced many times but never used in a game. Daniels had multiple options as he rolled toward the goal line. The safety couldn’t catch up to Taylor near the front post.

“As soon as I came out and saw Mason open,” Daniels said, “I thought, ‘Oh, it’s game over.’ ”

The game went to overtime after six lead changes in the second half. LSU won the toss and went on defense. Alabama scored. But on the sideline, offensive analyst Dean Petzing told Daniels that LSU will run the read option on its first play.

“Well,” Daniels said, “if they call that game, I’m going to end the game.”

Sure enough, Daniels pulled the ball as the defense collapsed. He dashed straight with the space in front of him. Taylor made a block. So does running back Josh Williams. Daniels skated into the end zone to bring LSU within a point.

Then Kelly went for the win. And down went the Crimson Tide.

LSU opened the second half with a 7-6 lead after a fumble recovery allowed Alabama to end the first half with a field goal. The Crimson Tide kicked another field goal to take their first lead early in the third quarter.

But then Daniels and Josh Williams had touchdown runs as the game descended into chaos. Daniels escaped pressure and picked up 21 yards. Williams got 16 on one transmission. Daniels hung in the pocket to make a third down throw to catcher Kayshon Boutte. Then Williams jumped over the goal line.

The teams went back and forth. Alabama — shut down much of the night by LSU’s defensive pressure — began to find the end zone late in the third quarter instead of settling for field goals. The Crimson Tide retook the lead after running back Jahmyr Gibbs made some explosive plays and a facemask penalty negated a key third-down throw.

But LSU responded. This team that once struggled so much on offense against the Crimson Tide had Daniels, and he once again sent the Tigers into Alabama territory. LSU regained the lead on a 32-yard Damian Ramos field goal.

Of course, Alabama scored again, because it can never completely pass, not under coach Nick Saban. Seemingly done on third-and-10, Alabama quarterback Bryce Young slid past his outstretched hands as his pocket collapsed. He rolled to his right and threw a 41-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Ja’Corey Brooks.

Alabama led 21-17 after the second of two failed 2-point conversions. Then Daniels took over. He scampered 31 yards, and when LSU reached the goal line, he made a slick throw to Taylor in the corner of the end zone. Taylor overthrew the catch with a defender on his back.

LSU led 24-21 with 1:47 left, but Young made enough throws to get Alabama within field goal range and Will Reichard kicked a 46-yarder – his fourth of the game – to send the teams into overtime.

And LSU won there, setting up a possible matchup with Georgia in the SEC championship game if it beats Arkansas and Texas A&M.

Kelly felt emotional afterwards. He came from Notre Dame for moments like this. Facing the man he considers one of the greatest college football coaches of all time. Bring LSU back to national championship contention. To win his first title.

“I know how we looked in January,” Kelly said, “and to see where we are today, it’s pretty emotional.”

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