TUSCALOOSA, Ala. – The University of Alabama defense limited Louisiana State University running back Leonard Fournette to 31 rushing yards while the Crimson Tide offense rode a 210-yard, three-touchdown rushing performance by running back Derrick Henry to a 30-16 victory before a capacity crowd of 101,821 on Saturday night at Bryant-Denny Stadium. The victory moved No. 4 Alabama (9-1 overall; 5-1 in the Southeastern Conference) into a tie with No. 2 LSU (7-2 overall; 4-1 in the SEC) for the lead in the SEC’s West Division.
Fournette, who entered the game as the nation’s leading rusher averaging 193.1 yards rushing per game, could not get going against the Crimson Tide defense. But Henry rushed for touchdowns of two yards, one yard and seven yards while carrying the ball 38 times, the third-most carries by one player in a single game in Alabama football history. Fournette had an 18-yard run at the 11:00 mark of the fourth quarter after a Henry fumble set up the Tigers at the Tide 22. But by that time, the Tide had built a 30-10 lead and the outcome was decided.
Alabama was dominant early, breaking out to a 10-0 lead in the second quarter on a 22-yard Adam Griffith field goal and Henry’s two-yard scoring rush that came after a 40-yard run in which he fended off three would-be tacklers while rumbling deep into LSU territory. But the Tigers struck back to tie it at 10-10 with an explosive passing game. Quarterback Brandon Harris hit wide receiver Travin Dural for a 40-yard touchdown pass and Trent Domingue followed with a 39-yard field goal to tie it. But Alabama took a 13-10 lead at halftime on a career-long 55-yard field goal by Griffith with 14 seconds left in the half.
After Tide linebacker Dillon Lee intercepted a Harris pass on the first play of the third quarter to set Alabama up at the LSU 28, Henry capped a touchdown drive with a 1-yard run to stake the Tide to a 20-10 lead with 13:00 left in the period. Henry extended the lead with a seven-yard scoring run with 2:47 left in the third quarter and Griffith added a 29-yard field goal with 12:45 left in the fourth period for a 30-10 Alabama lead.
LSU showed life late after Henry lost a fumble at the Tide 22. The Tigers marched 22 yards in four plays with Fournette scoring on a one-yard run with 9:18 on the clock. The extra-point was blocked by the Tide’s A’Shawn Robinson as the Tide held a 30-16 lead.
The Alabama defense created seven plays of negative yardage by the LSU offense in the game, including seven tackles for loss and two quarterback sacks. LSU was limited to 182 total yards in the game (54 rushing, 128 passing). The Alabama offense gained 434 total yards, including 250 rushing, and had the ball for 39:27 of game time. Tide safety Geno Matias-Smith led the Tide defense with six tackles. Alabama punter JK Scott averaged 45.0 yards on three punts with a long of 50 yards, including one punt downed inside the LSU 20. Griffith made all three field goal attempts, running his streak of successful attempts to seven straight.
Alabama continues its season next Saturday at Mississippi State (7-2 overall; 3-2 in the SEC). Kickoff time for that game has been set for 2:30 p.m. CT and will be televised by CBS.
LSU won the toss and deferred its option to the second half. Alabama received the opening kickoff.
Tide quarterback Jake Coker and running back Derrick Henry had the offense moving quickly down the field. Coker hit wide receiver Richard Mullaney for completions of 11 and 10 yards while Henry picked up an additional first down on the ground, but the drive stalled when Coker was taken down at the line of scrimmage on fourth-and-1 from the LSU 31.
The Crimson Tide defense responded with a three-and-out, capped off by a sack of LSU quarterback Brandon Harris by linebackers Reggie Ragland and Tim Williams. Alabama was able to convert on third-and-5 on the ensuing offensive series, but was forced to punt the ball away when Coker’s pass deep down the sideline to wide receiver Calvin Ridley fell incomplete. A 50-yard punt by JK Scott pinned the Tigers back at their own 10.
LSU running back Leonard Fournette was dropped for a loss on second down, which was followed by two delay of game penalties. Facing third-and-18 from the 2, Harris dropped back and launched a pass that was caught by Travin Dural between two Alabama defenders for a 37-yard gain to the LSU 39. The Tigers successfully flipped the field with that play, but could not move the ball any farther.
Starting at the Tide 9, Henry carried the ball up the middle for a gain of 11 on the drive’s opening play, and then Coker hit Ridley on a screen pass that the rookie took up field for 14 yards. On the next play, running back Kenyan Drake broke a couple of tackles on a gain of 18, and a personal foul face mask penalty on the Tigers added 15 yards to the play. When the quarter ended, the Tide had the ball at the LSU 29.
Score: Alabama 0, LSU 0.
Henry carried the ball on three consecutive plays to begin the quarter, including converting on fourth down with a three-yard rush. Alabama had the ball first-and-goal from the 10 following a pass interference call on the defense, but had to settle for a field goal after Coker could not connect with Ridley on third down. Junior kicker Adam Griffith knocked a 22-yard field goal through the uprights to give the Tide a 3-0 lead at the 11:08 mark of the first half. The scoring drive lasted 15 plays and covered 87 yards in 5:19.
Alabama was able to produce another three-and-out on defense and regained possession at its 43 following the punt. Coker rolled out and completed a 15-yard pass to tight end O.J. Howard on the first play, and Henry followed that up with a 40-yard burst down to the LSU 2. Henry powered his way into the end zone on the next play for the touchdown, his 14th consecutive game with at least one rushing score. Griffith added the extra point and the Tide was ahead, 10-0, with 8:51 to play in the half.
The LSU offense put together a drive in response, aided by a personal foul face mask penalty called against defensive lineman Darren Lake when he brought down Harris on the first play. Later in the drive, on second-and-12, Harris got rid of the ball right before he was hit in the backfield, connecting with wide receiver Travin Dural for 40 yards and a touchdown. That trimmed the margin to 10-7 with 6:12 remaining in the opening half following the 6-play, 75-yard scoring drive.
Seeking to keep momentum, the LSU defense forced a three-and-out, including a sack of Coker on second down. Scott booted the ball away for 46 yards, and the Tigers quickly had the ball back, this time at their own 32.
Harris took the field with confidence, throwing a pass to receiver Malachi Dupre for 13 yards, and then taking a deep shot down the field that resulted in a defensive pass interference. On first-and-10 from the Alabama 40, Harris kept the ball up the middle for a gain of 16. The drive eventually stalled at the 23, but kicker Trent Domingue made the drive pay off by making a field goal from 39 yards out. That tied the game at 10-10 at the 2:22 mark in the half.
LSU committed a critical error on special teams, as Cameron Gamble’s kickoff landed out of bounds, gave the Alabama offense the ball at the 35 to start the drive. Coker found receiver ArDarius Stewart open for 19 yards, which was followed up by a 10-yard gain by Henry to move the ball down to the Tiger 36. LSU appeared to thwart the drive when Arden Key was able to get pressure on Coker and bring him down for a nine-yard loss.
Facing fourth-and-11 from the LSU 37, the Tide called a timeout with 18 seconds left in the half. Alabama head coach Nick Saban elected to bring out Griffith for a 55-yard field goal attempt, which he was able to squeeze inside the left upright, tying for the second-longest field goal made in program history.
Score: Alabama 13, LSU 10.
After a touchback on the kickoff, Harris faked a handoff to Fournette and rolled out, attempting to hit tight end Foster Moreau; however, the pass ended up in the arms of Alabama linebacker Dillon Lee, who made the interception at the 28 before he stepped out of bounds.
A perfectly executed screen pass to Drake on the first play almost went for a touchdown, as the running back cut to the outside and was pushed out at the LSU 3. Henry came in to finish the drive off and, although it took three plays, he plunged across the goal line on third down for his second touchdown of the night. That made the score 20-10 in favor of the Tide only two minutes into the second half.
LSU attempted to get Fournette going, but he could not break loose on his three carries on the Tigers’ next offensive possession. Harris did convert one third down, hitting Dupre on a slant route for 10 yards, but he misfired on the next third down thanks to the heavy pressure being applied by the Tide defense.
Drake took a handoff out of the pistol formation and made a quick cut to the right, picking up 16 yards to begin Alabama’s next drive. LSU’s defense responded with a 12-yard sack of Coker on the next series, and the Tide had to punt the ball back to the Tigers.
LSU took over at the 27 but went three-and-out again, as junior defensive lineman A’Shawn Robinson batted down Harris’s pass on third-and-4.
Alabama had possession at its 27, and avoided committing a crucial turnover when Henry was able to recover a botched handoff before a LSU defender could get it. Coker then connected with Ridley, who made a couple of nice moves to break free for 15 yards. Then Coker was under duress but got the ball away to Ridley again, this time on a cross route for 14 yards. That moved the ball into LSU territory, and two plays later Drake ripped off a 24-yard rush that put the ball inside the red zone. Henry got the call on consecutive plays, compiling 11 yards to set the offense up with first-and-goal at the LSU 5. Alabama was called for a false start, but continued to give the ball to Henry, who easily scored from seven yards out on second down, giving him a trio of touchdowns in less than three quarters of play. The Tide’s lead was extended to 27-10 as a result of the 11-play, 73-yard that lasted 3:46.
The Tigers began their next drive backed up at their own 8-yard line due to a holding call on the kickoff return. Harris was sacked by Lee for a loss of five on first down, Fournette was tripped up for a loss of one on second down, and Harris threw incomplete on third down. With his heels at the back of the end zone, LSU punter Jamie Keehn’s punt was only 37 yards.
Taking over on a short field, Alabama picked up two first downs thanks to a 10-yard rush by Henry and a 10-yard completion to Stewart on a screen pass. As the quarter ended, the Tide held a 17-point lead and was in the red zone once again.
Score: Alabama 27, LSU 10.
The drive eventually stalled at the 12, but Griffith came out and was good on a 30-yard attempt to add to Alabama’s lead. With 12:45 remaining in the game, the Tide was up 30-10 on the Tigers.
LSU moved across midfield on one play, as Harris found receiver DeSean Smith for 26 yards while the defense was also called for a facemask penalty. LSU could not keep the drive going, however, as Alabama continued to bring heavy pressure, forcing three straight incompletions.
The Tide started at its own 7 following the punt. Coker tossed a quick shovel pass to Drake for a 12-yard gain, but Henry was stripped of the ball on the next play and LSU recovered at the Tide 22. Fournette then ripped off 18 yards, his longest run of the game, before punching it in from one yard out. The extra point was blocked by A’Shawn Robinson, making the score 30-16 in favor of Alabama with 9:18 left in the game.
LSU would not get the ball again as the Alabama offense constructed a 13-play, 78-yard drive that consumed the remaining 9:18 of the game.
An illegal block penalty on the kickoff return placed the ball at the 4, but the Tide was able to move it across the 15 thanks to a pair of carries by Henry and a reception by Howard. The next three plays from scrimmage were all Henry rushes, producing another first down. A holding call negated a big gain by Henry on the next play, but as the Tide continued to work on running out the clock, the junior running back broke loose for 29 yards on a draw on third down.
Henry gained 12 yards on his next carry, and then, on his 37th rushing attempt of the game, surged forward for two yards to eclipse the 200-yard mark for the second time in his career. Coker took a knee on the final play of the game to seal the victory for Alabama.
Final Score: Alabama 30, LSU 16.