BATON ROUGE, La. — While a small batch of Alabama fans celebrated behind the end zone at Tiger Stadium, A.J. McCarron found his parents at the edge of the stands. He lunged into their arms, his watery-eyed father furiously rubbing his son's hair.
McCarron had vowed he wouldn't let his team lose to LSU in the game of the year.
The Crimson Tide quarterback was true to his word.
With Alabama's hopes of a second straight national title slipping away, McCarron shook off a dismal second half and guided his right down the field. He read an LSU blitz and flipped a screen pass to T.J. Yeldon, who did the rest on a 28-yard touchdown with 51 seconds remaining that gave the top-ranked Tide a 21-17 victory over No. 5 LSU.
Talk about a Saturday night stunner in Death Valley.
"It was like clockwork," McCarron said. "The whole offense just looked at each other and you could just tell in everybody's eyes it was like, `We do this every Thursday, so what's the difference here?"'
Alabama (9-0, 6-0 Southeastern Conference) now has a clear path to the league championship game in Atlanta, and remains solidly on course to defend its national title in Miami.
"There's just so many emotions running through me," McCarron said. "Sometimes it can be a lot of pressure playing here at this university, especially with all the tradition of winning and everything. Just coming back and winning a game like that, and like coach (Nick) Saban said, it might be known as `The Drive' for the history of Alabama. And just to be a part of it with my teammates was just truly a blessing."
This one was a struggle. Led by embattled quarterback Zach Mettenberger, LSU (7-2, 3-2) fought back from a 14-3 halftime deficit with an offensive performance that was nothing like their dismal showing against the Tide in last season's BCS championship game.