Hurts, No. 1 Alabama hold off No. 19 LSU, 24-10
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. (AP) — Alabama’s defense sucked all the drama out of the ending with stop after stop, even as injuries took their toll.
With Jalen Hurts delivering some timely plays — and two touchdowns — the top-ranked Crimson Tide sweated out a bruising 24-10 victory over No. 19 LSU on Saturday night.
The Tide (9-0, 6-0 Southeastern Conference) had to withstand a rare challenge this season from a league opponent, but the nation’s top defense didn’t allow much hope in the fourth quarter.
Alabama was ranked No. 2 in the first College Football Playoff rankings behind Georgia, which clinched the SEC East with a 24-10 victory over South Carolina.
“I told the players before the game that we haven’t been tested with hard,” Tide coach Nick Saban said. “Hard kind of defines you. We didn’t play a great game out there. We had a lot of self-inflicted wounds but you can’t argue with the fight the players fought with.”
The game took a toll on Alabama’s defense. Linebackers Shaun Dion Hamilton (knee) and Mack Wilson (foot) are “probably out,” Saban said, indicating they’re potentially long-term injuries.
The Tigers (6-3, 3-2) kept getting defensive stops in the fourth quarter but couldn’t muster a threat. They had to punt twice and then managed to squeeze out only a couple of first downs after taking over at their own 8 with 4:39 left.
Danny Etling completed a couple of short passes and gave way to backup Myles Brennan, who couldn’t push them much further. He was sacked on fourth-and-long by freshman linebacker Dylan Moses.
Alabama ran out the clock on its seventh straight win in the SEC West rivalry. The Tigers came in riding a three-game winning streak since a loss to Troy that threatened to derail coach Ed Orgeron’s first season and were still three-touchdown underdogs.
Orgeron said he doesn’t believe in moral victories.
“Hey, here’s the deal. We came here to beat Alabama, and I’d want my guys’ mindset there,” he said. “And we’re coming.”
They aren’t there yet. Hurts had a 3-yard touchdown run late in the third quarter, throwing for two first downs and rushing for another on the drive.
Darrel Williams then led LSU to its only touchdown of the past two meetings. He scored on a 2-yarder after getting corralled just shy of the goal line following a 54-yard scamper out of the Wildcat formation.
Alabama added a field goal from Andy Pappanastos early in the fourth.
The teams combined for 15 punts and 10 sacks, six by the Tide. Alabama led 14-3 at the half and still hasn’t allowed a first-half touchdown in an SEC game.
LSU: Kept up with the Tide everywhere but the scoreboard. Outgained Alabama 306-299. Etling was 12 of 26 for 137 yards with an interception by Ronnie Harrison. Derrius Guice produced 71 yards on 19 carries.
“The last two times I was here we didn’t move the ball at all,” linebacker Arden Key said. “Tonight we moved the ball. As a matter of fact we had more yards than they did, but we just need to convert, continue to do the things we do and believe in them.”
Alabama: The league’s top rushing offense was bottled up most of the night, despite a few nice runs by Hurts. Gained 116 yards on 36 carries. Shut down a star LSU tailback again after throttling Leonard Fournette the past two years. Hurts passed for 183 yards, including a 4-yard TD to Irv Smith, and ran for 44.
“They played an eight-man front on us all the time and made it really hard for us to run the ball,” Saban said.
The game took a toll on Alabama defenders. Safety Minkah Fitzpatrick went down a couple of times in the first half and played a situational role in the second with Saban saying he kept “begging” to get back in. Wilson was carted to the locker room before halftime and then Hamilton went down later. Alabama has already lost two linebackers for the season.
LSU hosts a struggling Arkansas team.
Alabama visits No. 21 Mississippi State, a 34-23 winner over UMass.
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