One of the worst stretches of Alabama football under Nick Saban came in the second quarter with about four minutes and change left to play.
In that span LSU scored two touchdowns and a field goal to turn a three-point lead to a 20-point cushion at halftime that was instrumental in the Tigers’ 46-41 win Saturday.
After LSU took a 19-13 lead on Cade York’s 45-yard field goal Alabama went three-and-out without gaining a yard. LSU quarterback Joe Burrow extended the Tigers’ lead 26-13 on an eight-play, 61-yard drive with 26 seconds left until halftime.
Instead of taking a knee to run out the clock, Alabama opted to run a play. Tua Tagovailoa’s pass was intercepted and returned 16 yards. A personal foul penalty on Landon Dickerson tacked on another 13 yards and Burrow found a wide open Clyde Edwards-Helaire in the end zone for a touchdown on the next play.
“Since the result we got was what we got, I wished we had ran the ball, I wish we would have taken a knee,” Saban said. “We were trying to throw a chunk play and we have a lot of capability to do that. We trusted the quarterback to make a good decision. They played zone and the guy (Patrick Queen) broke on the ball and made the interception.”
Burrow was 3 of 4 passing for 56 yards and ran for 30 yards in those final four minutes. Alabama ran four plays for minus 2 yards.
“That was a huge momentum swing,” Alabama receiver Henry Ruggs said. “We were trying to make a big play and they got the interception. That was a big play in the game.”
There were plenty of other miscues by Alabama that helped lead to Saturday’s loss:
— The fumble by Tagovailoa inside the LSU 10-yard line on Alabama’s first possession of the game.
— Ty Perine’s bobbled snap on a punt that led to a field goal.
— A Trevon Diggs interception negated by a substitution infraction.
There was plenty of instances that led to Alabama’s first loss of 2019, but what a difference it would have been had it not tried to do too much in those final 26 seconds of the first half.
“Being aggressive in the game at the time, I thought we would throw the ball down the field and give ourselves a chance to make a big play. It was obviously a mistake on our part and I take all the blame for that.”