The Iron Bowl produced yet another fantastic entry on Saturday, as No. 3 Alabama stunned an Auburn team hell-bent on upsetting the Crimson Time with a 24-22, four-overtime victory in Jordan-Hare Stadium.
At one point — several, in fact — Alabama’s hopes of victory appeared long gone. Indeed, Auburn’s defense sacked Bryce Young an absurd seven times while limiting the Crimson Tide offense to just 381 yards, 97 of which came on a last-minute game-tying drive.
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That stout defensive performance, coupled with several Alabama miscues — such as leading receiver Jameson Williams getting ejected due to targeting — allowed the Tigers to take a 10-0 point lead into the fourth quarter. Indeed, Alabama did not get on the board for the first time until 8:44 left in the final quarter. It was the first time since the 2016 LSU game that the Crimson Tide had been held scoreless through three quarters. Alabama appeared in danger of getting shut out for the first time since the 2000 Iron Bowl (a 9-0 Tigers victory).
But Young (25 of 51 passing, 317 yards, two touchdowns, one interception) managed to lead Alabama to scores on two of its final three drives, sending the game to overtime. Once there, the teams traded scores — a touchdown, field goal and 2-point conversion in the first three overtimes, respectively — before Alabama finally came away with the victory in overtime No. 4.
Even Alabama coach Nick Saban, who can come off as a curmudgeon in a blowout victory, seemed stunned at the turn of events:
Here’s how Alabama managed to overcome the scoreless deficit and beat Auburn in a wild overtime finish in Jordan-Hare:
Kool-Aid McKinstry sack of T.J. Finley
The start of Alabama’s comeback started with a defensive play from the Alabama freshman cornerback. Auburn faced third-and-5 from Alabama’s 20 after picking off Young at the Crimson Tide 45. The Tigers quickly moved downfield, but the 15-yard sack by McKinstry of Finley put the Tigers at the Alabama 35. First-year coach Bryan Harsin elected not to attempt the 49-yard field goal with backup kicker Ben Patton, going instead for the punt with 7:45 left in the third quarter.
That kept the Tigers from attempting to take a 13-0 lead, which ultimately might have proved the difference between a 13-10 regulation victory and the 24-22 four-overtime defeat. It wouldn’t be the final time McKinstry made his mark on the game.
Josh Jobe interception of Finley
Yet another heads-up defensive play kept the Crimson Tide in the game. Alabama had just turned the ball over on downs from the Auburn 39 with 11:54 remaining in the fourth quarter, preserving the shutout and seemingly giving Auburn the victory.
But, one play later, Finley’s pass to Kobe Hudson was too high and had too much zip; the pass glanced off Hudson’s hands straight into Jobe’s hands at the Alabama 42.
Seven plays later, Alabama’s Will Reichard got the Crimson Tide on the board with a 30-yard field goal to make the score 10-3.
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Tank Bigsby runs out of bounds
Bigsby didn’t have the best game, rushing 29 times for 63 yards, but overall did enough to help the Tigers secure the upset. One play on the Tigers’ penultimate drive, however, helped the Crimson Tide stay in the game: a 10-yard run out of bounds on second-and-11.
The play was certainly a positive. But, because he went out of bounds, it saved Alabama from using its final timeout. A play later, Byron Young and Henry To’oTo’o tackled Bigsby for a 4-yard loss, at which point Alabama used its final timeout with 1:43 remaining in the game. Auburn’s punt was downed at the Alabama 3, but gave Young and Co. 1:35 left to work downfield for the game-tying touchdown.
Bryce Young 28-yard touchdown to Jacorey Brooks
Young only completed 6 of 10 passes on the final drive of regulation, but did so for 85 yards as the Crimson Tide marched 97 yards to the game-tying score. No completion was more important than his final one of the drive: a 28-yard touchdown to Ja’Corey Brooks, whose first catch of the day was a 21-yarder earlier in the drive:
With that, Alabama tied the game with just 24 seconds remaining in regulation. Auburn elected to send the game to overtime with a kneel down.
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McKinstry pass deflection in fourth overtime
The second of McKinstry’s game-changing plays came in the final overtime period. After trading three scores in each of the first post-regulation periods with Auburn, Alabama found itself on defense. Finley rolled right and, with pressure in his face, attempted to find Shedrick Jackson in the corner of the end zone. McKinstry made the one defensive stop of the overtime period, batting the ball down harmlessly to the turf and giving Alabama the chance to win it with one final play.
Alabama’s game-winning 2-point conversion
The final nail in the coffin for Auburn. Credit to John Metchie, whose crisp route-running against Roger McCreary netted him his 13th catch for 150 yards. It also provided the dagger for Alabama as it overcame the 10-point deficit and beat rival Auburn in Jordan-Hare for the first time since 2015: