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November 11, 2006

Russell leads No. 12 LSU over Alabama

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BATON ROUGE, La. - JaMarcus Russell threw three touchdown passes and frustrated Alabama with drive-extending scrambles to help No. 12 LSU keep its slim hopes for an SEC West Division title alive with a 28-14 victory Saturday night.

Russell was an efficient 18-of-21 passing for 207 yards and took only one sack. He connected with Early Doucet, Dwayne Bowe and Jacob Hester for scores. Freshman running back Keiland Williams gave the Tigers an early lead on a 38-yard touchdown run.

LSU (8-2, 4-2, SEC) also did not turn the ball over, unlike a feisty Alabama squad that might have pulled off an upset if not for missed opportunities.

Alabama (6-5, 2-5) held a 2:16 advantage in time of possession and nearly matched the Tigers in total yards, but came away from four promising drives with no points because of two turnovers and two missed field goals.

LSU's defense had a lot to do with that. The Tigers preserved a 21-14 lead at the half when Daniel Francis stripped John Parker Wilson on a sack and defensive end Chase Pittman recovered with 19 seconds left in the second quarter.

In the third quarter, LaRon Landry intercepted Wilson's tipped pass at the LSU 12.

In the fourth quarter, Ricky Jean-Francois' sack, LSU's fourth of the game, forced Alabama to settle for Jamie Christensen's 40-yard field goal attempt that went wide. Christensen also missed wide on a 49-yarder on Alabama's first drive.

Wilson was 22-of-35 for 291 yards and one interception. He kept Alabama in the game early with 29-yard touchdown pass to Kenneth Darby and a 6-yard fade to Nikita Stover. However, Wilson lost one of his favorite targets in the second half when Keith Brown hurt his knee.

Alabama also struggled to run, gaining only 78 yards on the ground.

LSU rushed for 211 yards, led by Williams with 79 and Hester with 64.

Doucet had seven catches for 101 yards.

Alabama tried to pressure Russell, but that often backfired. The first time the Crimson Tide brought heavy pressure, the 6-foot-6, 257-pound quarterback shook a tackler off of his leg, rolled left and unloaded a 27-yard bullet to Doucet coming across the field. Several plays later, Russell read an all-out blitz and dumped the ball off to Doucet, who took off into the open field for a 30-yard touchdown that made it 14-0 in the first quarter.

Later in the first half, two Alabama rushers appeared to have Russell in trouble nearly 15 yards behind the line of scrimmage. Russell escaped both, keeping his balance as he was nearly tripped up and scrambling for a 5-yard gain. That same drive, Russell escaped the rush again by rolling left and drilled a 19-yard strike to Bowe in the end zone to give LSU a 21-7 lead.

Alabama's adjustments in pass coverage slowed down the LSU air attack for much of the second quarter. So Russell, who scrambled for 71 yards a week earlier at Tennessee, started using his feet to make big plays again.

On LSU's opening drive of the second half, Russell scrambled for first downs with a 25-yard gain on third-and-19 and a 9-yard gain on third-and-4. That led to Hester's 17-yard touchdown on a catch coming out of the backfield to give LSU a 28-14 lead it maintained until the end.

For more coverage of the LSU Tigers, check out TiberBait.com; for more coverage of the Alabama Crimson Tide, check out BamaOnLine.com.

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