November 3, 2007

Tigers by a tail

With three first-half interceptions and his back-up Ryan Perrilloux left behind in Baton Rouge, Louisiana State quarterback Matt Flynn had his team's championship hopes squarely on his shoulders Saturday at Bryant-Denny Stadium.

The weight, as it turned out, wasn't too much to carry.

Flynn threw two second-half touchdown passes as the Tigers escaped Bryant-Denny Stadium with a 41-34 win over Alabama, its fifth consecutively in the series.

"It doesn't matter if something good happens or something bad happens you just have to play," Flynn of the early interceptions. "You just have to forget about it and keep reading the plays."

LSU's first-year starter eliminated his first-half mistakes and helped the Tigers overcome second-half deficits of 27-17 and 34-27. His 67-yard touchdown pass to Demetrius Byrd came just two plays after Alabama had taken its largest lead of the game. Byrd beat Simeon Castille on a deep pass to pull the Tigers within 27-24.

"We just didn't play well enough to win the game," Alabama coach Nick Saban said. "We made some big plays, but we weren't consistent enough."

Flynn finished 24 of 44 for 353 yards, three touchdowns and three interceptions. After the half, he was especially effective: 12 of 24 for 202 yards, two scores and no turnovers.

Alabama was outgained 475-254 by LSU and managed only 20 rushing yards for the game. But the Crimson Tide (6-3, 4-2 SEC) kept itself in position to win not only with three interceptions of Flynn but with special teams play as well. Freshman Kareem Jackson blocked a half-ending field goal that preserved a 20-17 Alabama lead, and Javier Arenas broke a punt return 61 yards for a touchdown to give UA a 34-27 advantage with 7:33 remaining.

Flynn's cool hand engineered an 84-yard drive that tied the game at 34. He converted a third-and-5 on the drive as well as a fourth-and-4 to Early Doucet for a 32-yard touchdown. Arenas had coverage on Doucet on the play, but the Tigers' top receiver broke a tackle, made a move on Marcus Carter and reached the end zone to silence a sellout home crowd.

Alabama followed with a turnover when Wilson fumbled on a sack, and the Tigers took the lead for good on a 1-yard touchdown run by Jacob Hester.

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