NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Jeremy Shelley redeemed Alabama’s kickers.
Shelley overcame a few errant kicks to equal a bowl record with five field goals in the Crimson Tide’s 21-0 win over LSU in Monday night’s BCS championship game, writing a feel-good ending for the little guys with the maligned legs.
It meant Alabama (12-1) survived this time though its offense, again, kept getting turned back. Cade Foster missed three field goals in the first game against LSU on Nov. 5 and Shelley had one blocked in the 9-6 overtime defeat.
Shelley wound up making field goals from 23, 34, 41, 35 and 44 yards.
That matched the bowl record held by Texas A&M’s Kyle Bryant (1995 Alabama Bowl) and Minnesota’s Dan Nystrom (2002 Music City Bowl).
A block, a miss, and a botched extra point turned into mere footnotes for Shelley this time, instead of an agonizing legacy.
Normally the short-yardage kicker, Shelley eased into the night with a chip shot. That surely elicited a small sigh of relief for Alabama fans fearing that special teams might be LSU’s biggest advantage in the game.
Foster, who had insisted days earlier he relished the chance at the big kick, lined up for a 49-yarder in the second quarter. Instead, it was a fake.
McCarron, the holder, flipped the ball to Chris Underwood to convert a fourth-and-4. Three plays later, Shelley’s 42-yarder was blocked, almost prompting fears that this one, too, could turn into another kicking disaster.
Far from it.
Ever since that night, Foster’s teammates and coach Nick Saban defended him, noting that the offense kept stalling and forcing long, low-percentage attempts against LSU.
On Monday night, there was more reason for concern.
A.J. McCarron, who was chosen as offensive MVP, passed for 234 yards and was able to sustain drives if not finish them off.
Heisman Trophy finalist Trent Richardson ran for 96 yards, but didn’t break free until a 34-yard touchdown with 4:36 left, for the only touchdown by either team in eight quarters and an overtime period against each other this season.
By then, Shelley already had matters in hand.