TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — Alabama’s Mount Cody proved too big for Tennessee to kick over.
Terrence Cody, the Crimson Tide’s 350-pound nose guard, blocked a 44-yard field-goal attempt on the final play and No. 1 Alabama escaped with a 12-10 victory over the rival Volunteers on Saturday.
Cody broke through the line on the last play and practically ran into Daniel Lincoln’s low kick. Relieved Alabama fans chanted “Cody” as the All-American ambled toward the locker room. It was Cody’s second blocked field goal of the fourth quarter.
Leigh Tiffin booted four field goals — including a 50-yarder and a 49-yarder — to provide all Alabama’s offense and the Tide (8-0, 5-0 Southeastern Conference) survived Mark Ingram’s first college fumble and some problems for the nation’s top defense.
Tennessee (3-4, 1-3) kept alive its hopes for coach Lane Kiffin’s first huge victory with Eric Berry’s fumble recovery and Jonathan Crompton’s 11-yard touchdown pass to Gerald Jones with 1:19 left. Then Tennessee’s Denarius Moore recovered the onside kick at the Vols’ 41 with no time outs remaining.
Crompton hit Jones on a 14-yarder before Tennessee was pushed back by a false start. On second down, the much-maligned Crompton hit Luke Stocker for a 23-yard gain to get the Vols into position for the potential game-winning kick.
But Cody and the Tide made a big push, and Alabama still controls its destiny in the national title race.
Tiffin’s 49-yarder with 6:31 left had barely cleared the uprights for the 12-3 lead and, it turns out, the decisive points. That came after Cody batted Lincoln’s 43-yard field goal attempt with his left hand.
Tennessee would get new life when Ingram lost the first fumble of his career, giving the Vols the ball back at the Bama 43. All-American safety Eric Berry jarred the ball loose as Ingram was going down, and then recovered it.
Crompton overcame a sack on the first play and completed 4-of-4 passes for 42 yards and the TD to make it 12-10. Alabama had nearly made it three games in a row without allowing a touchdown.
It was the second straight fourth-quarter scare for Alabama, which also needed a late score to ensure a 20-6 win over South Carolina.
The Volunteers now have tested two No. 1 teams. They lost 23-13 to then-No. 1 Florida earlier and Kiffin’s team came even closer this time.
Tennessee was unranked the last time it beat a No. 1, topping Auburn 38-20 in 1985.
After Cody’s first block, Greg McElroy passed for a first down and ran for another to move the Tide down the field. His underneath pass to Roy Upchurch was stopped short of a first down when Upchurch got entangled with an official.
Tiffin came in to make it a two-score game, and Alabama forced Tennessee into one of its few three-and-outs.
Ingram ran for one first down before the Tide was forced to punt again. But Chris Donald was called for roughing the kicker, giving Bama a first down.