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COLLEGE FOOTBALL

No. 1 Alabama hangs on to beat Tennessee

Cody's second blocked field-goal attempt of the game on the final play gives Crimson Tide a 12-10 victory.

October 25, 2009|Associated Press

TUSCALOOSA, ALA. — Mt. 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 -- his second block of the fourth quarter -- and Alabama escaped with a 12-10 victory over rival Tennessee on Saturday.

He muscled the Crimson 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 kicked four field goals -- including a 50-yarder and a 49-yarder -- to provide all of 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 -- much like in then-No. 1 Florida's win over Arkansas last week

"You talk about how fragile a season is," Alabama 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."

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.

Crompton passed 14 yards to Jones before Tennessee was pushed back by a false start. On second down, the much-maligned Crompton connected with Luke Stocker for a 23-yard gain to get into position for the potential game-winning kick.

But Cody and the Tide made a big push, and Alabama, second in the Bowl Championship Series 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."

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