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No. 2 Alabama able to survive scare from Kentucky, 17-14

October 05, 2008|From the Associated Press

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -- Alabama discovered how precarious life at the top can be, sidestepping what could have been another top-five upset with a bruising drive and a late field goal.

Glen Coffee rushed for 218 yards, Leigh Tiffin kicked a 24-yard field goal with 2:12 left to put the Crimson Tide up by 10 points, and No. 2 Alabama pulled through and advanced in the national title chase with a 17-14 win over Kentucky on Saturday.

Playing with its best national ranking in 15 years, the Tide survived three turnovers, a season-high 10 penalties and a sputtering passing game a week after racing to a 31-0 halftime lead at Georgia.

The outcome, at least, was something Coach Nick Saban could be happy with after top-five teams Georgia, Florida and USC were toppled last weekend.

"We're certainly happy to win, but we also put on a clinic today for how to keep the other team in the game," Saban said.

Coffee and the Tide (6-0, 3-0 Southeastern Conference) pounded out a 15-play drive from their own 17-yard line to set up the go-ahead field goal. Coffee gained 57 yards in nine carries during the drive, which consumed 8:10.

Tiffin, who had missed two earlier kicks, drilled one for a 17-7 lead, and the points proved vital. John Parker Wilson had converted a fourth and one with a quarterback sneak from the Kentucky 46 to keep the drive alive.

The Wildcats (4-1, 0-1) weren't done yet.

Mike Hartline hit DeMoreo Ford streaking down the right sideline for a 48-yard touchdown pass with 40 seconds left.

The blown pass coverage had Saban fuming on the sideline over another mistake in a day full of them for the Tide.

"They never gave up and we never put them away, and we had some chances," he said.

Kentucky's onside kick went out of bounds to give Alabama the ball and the game.

The Tide's final scoring chance came after Coffee nearly lost his second fumble inside the Kentucky 10, but the ball dribbled out of bounds after the Wildcats had a clear shot to recover and Alabama kept possession.

"We had it and then we didn't," Kentucky Coach Rich Brooks said. "That's kind of the way the game went for us."

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