College Football: Alabama 12, Tennessee 10
Associated PressTUSCALOOSA, Ala. ó Mount Cody kept No. 1 Alabama perfect with a pair of super-sized plays.
Terrence Cody, the Crimson Tide’s 350-pound nose guard, blocked a 44-yard field-goal attempt on the final play ó his second block of the fourth quarter ó and ‘Bama escaped with a 12-10 victory over rival Tennessee on Saturday.
He muscled the Tide to another win, with pure brute force.
“I didn’t really get off the ground,” Cody said. “I just reached my arm up. That’s how I got it. I knocked (the blocker) back. He was on his back.”
Alabama (8-0, 5-0 Southeastern Conference) was about to have its bid for perfection knocked down, too.
Then 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.
Leigh Tiffin booted four field goals ó including a 50-yarder and a 49-yarder ó to provide all Alabama’s points and the Tide survived Mark Ingram’s first college fumble and some problems for the nation’s top defense. The last few minutes were all about survival ó much like in then-No. 1 Florida’s squeaker over Arkansas last week
“You talk about how fragile a season is,” Tide coach Nick Saban said. “You’re controlling a game, even though you may say it’s winning ugly. We’re still ahead 12-3 and totally controlling the game with 3 minutes, 29 seconds and the ball. That’s how fragile a season can be. You make one mistake and you have to go overcome it. I hope that there’s a lot of lessons our team can learn from this.”
His team gets some time to absorb them with an open date before No. 9 LSU visits.
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, second in the BCS standings, still controls its destiny in the national title race.
“It’s a difficult loss to deal with,” Kiffin said. “You come into a hostile environment and play the No. 1 team in the country, as I said before by far the No. 1 team in the country and the best-coached team around. You come in here and outgain them by (nearly) 100 yards and miss three field goals.
“I don’t believe in moral victories, we should have won that game.”
He said Lincoln hasn’t regained his leg strength since a quadriceps injury.
“He can’t kick the ball up high,” Kiffin said. “If you kick the ball up high it’s never going to get there, so we can’t allow the penetration up front.”
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 in 322 touches, 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.
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