BATON ROUGE, La. — Alabama quarterback Blake Sims figured out LSU’s swarming defense just in time for the Crimson Tide to deal the Tigers yet another devastating loss in raucous Death Valley.
Sims drove Alabama 55 yards in the final 50 seconds of regulation for a tying field goal, and threw a 6-yard touchdown pass to DeAndrew White in overtime to lift No. 4 Alabama to a 20-13 victory over No. 14 LSU on Saturday night.
“He didn’t have one of his better games. It was tough,” Alabama coach Nick Saban said about Sims, who finished 20 of 45 for 209 yards and two TDs without an interception. “He hung in there. He made some great plays when he had to. … I’m really, really proud of way he hung in there.”
With the victory and Auburn’s upset loss to Texas A&M earlier in the day, Alabama (8-1, 5-1 Southeastern Conference, No. 5 CFP) is alone in second place in the SEC West Division with a game against first-place Mississippi State still on its schedule.
Amari Cooper had eight catches for 83 yards and a 23-yard touchdown while setting Alabama career and single-season records for yards receiving, as well as the school’s single-season mark for catches with 79.
T.J. Yeldon’s fumble deep in Alabama territory gave LSU (7-3, 3-3, No. 16 CFP) the ball on the Alabama 6 with the score tied at 10 and 1:13 left, but the Tigers’ chances at a go-ahead touchdown diminished when offensive guard Vadal Alexander was called for unsportsmanlike conduct, moving the ball back to the 21.
That set up Colby Delahoussaye’s 39-yard field goal that gave LSU a 13-10 lead with 50 seconds left.
“The penalty changed the complexion of the game,” LSU coach Les Miles said, adding that he was going to “investigate” the call when he reviews video of the game. “We don’t get a 15-yard penalty down there … we are talking about driving in for a 7-pointer.
If the Tigers had been able to hold on, they would have pulled into a four-way tie for second place in the SEC West with Alabama, Auburn (7-2, 4-2, No. 3 CFP) and Mississippi (8-2, 4-2, No. 11 CFP).
But LSU’s defense, which dominated much of night to the delight of a sellout crowd of 102,321, was unable to make one last stand after kickoff specialist Trent Domingue yanked his kick out of bounds, giving Alabama the ball on its 35 with 50 seconds to go.
Sims scrambled for one first down, then hit several clutch passes, none bigger than a 22-yarder to Christion Jones, who made a sprawling catch on the LSU 26. Sims then hit White along the sideline at the 10 to set up the tying kick, a 27-yarder by Adam Griffith — who missed from the same distance, and same right-to-left angle, in the first half.
“I got a team that played a great game and played a tough game,” Miles said. “That is a tough one. I got a bad taste in my mouth about that game.”
The comeback was reminiscent of Alabama’s 2012 victory in Tiger Stadium, decided by a drive that ended with Yeldon taking A.J. McCarron’s screen pass 28-yards for a winning touchdown in the final minute. Alabama is now 26-9-2 all-time in Tiger Stadium, with victories in three of its past four visits.
“I was happy that I had the opportunity to be in that situation,” Sims said. “I watched film on A.J. I saw the composure that he had and I was just glad I was able to do the same thing.”
LSU quarterback Anthony Jennings completed just eight of 26 passes for 76 yards, but one was a 14-yard TD to Malachi Dupre. Leonard Fournette rushed for 79 yards for the Tigers, who gained 183 yards on the ground against a defense that came in allowing only 78 yards rushing per game.
LSU scored first on one of only two passes Jennings completed the first half — a fade to Dupre along the left side of the end zone.
Alabama was moving the ball, but saw a 17-play drive go for naught when Griffith’s field goal try from the right hash smacked off the left post in the second quarter. Alabama broke through on its next series when Sims hit Cooper over the middle for his tackle-breaking score.
Eddie Jackson’s interception of Jennings’ pass intended for Travin Dural, who slipped on his route, led to Griffith’s 39-yard field goal to make it 10-7 at halftime.
LSU tied it at 10 on Delahoussaye’s 35-yard field goal in the third quarter.