(2) Alabama - 12, Tennessee - 10
- Pat Forde, ESPN.com
October 24, 2009
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -- The noise thundering through the stadium had
changed. The confident roar heard all afternoon had morphed into a
Terrence Cody (62), left, blocks a field goal attempt by Tennessee
kicker Daniel Lincoln (26) in the closing seconds of the fourth
quarter to clinch the Crimson Tide's 12-10 victory.
Still deafening. But now unmistakably desperate.
Alabama led 12-10 but was on the verge of losing everything -- a game
it had controlled, a season it had dominated, a national championship
it coveted. Hated rival and major underdog Tennessee had arisen from
the dead in the final 3½ minutes, and after a stunning sequence of
events was a 44-yard field goal away from inflicting one of the most
painful losses in Crimson Tide history.
They were a single swing of Daniel Lincoln's right leg from
"That's how fragile a season can be," Alabama coach Nick Saban said.
And that's when Mount Cody put himself on Alabama's Mount Rushmore of
heroic defensive performances.
His given name is Terrence Cody, but around here everyone calls him
Mount Cody. See him up close and you know why -- at 6-foot-5 and 354
pounds, he is among the largest free-standing structures in the entire
And at a time when Alabama acutely needed someone to step up big, its
biggest player broke through.
"After I blocked that thing," Cody said, "I knew I was like a big hero."
The path to heroism -- also the path to the kicker -- was short and
The mountain man lined up over luckless left guard Cory Sullins, who
was giving away 84 pounds in this matchup. Alongside Cody was 6-4,
296-pound Marcell Dareus and 6-4, 306-pound Brandon Deaderick. The
call was "max block."
"Eleven guys going to block it," Saban said.
One got there first. The same one who blocked a Tennessee field goal
earlier in the fourth quarter.
At the snap, Cody bulldozed through Sullins. Path clear, he didn't
even need to jump. His raised left arm did the work.
"I reached out, just closed my eyes and got it," he said.
Got the kick. Blocked the kick. Saved the season.
Bryant-Denny exploded. Two-Block Terrence sprinted downfield, throwing
his helmet off his head, dreads flowing behind him. Cheerleaders
mobbed each other in euphoria.
And the family of four?
Dad put both hands behind his head, looking close to tears. Mom put
her palm to her forehead as if she might faint. Houndstooth-wearing
And after a postgame TV interview, Terrence Cody wound up hearing his
surname chanted by a crowd of 92,012 that refused to file out. As the
big man headed toward the tunnel, he lifted his left index finger in
the air and the stadium erupted one more time.
"A play like that goes down in history at Alabama," said senior
linebacker Cory Reamer, a native of the state.
A play like that is suitable for framing. This being Alabama, a
painter named Daniel Moore has made a living commemorating great
Crimson Tide moments on canvas.
Naturally, someone asked Cody if he knew about Moore's work. The Fort
Myers, Fla., product said he did not. But he might be a Moore subject
by season's end.
Indeed, if the Tide ends up 14-0, they'll likely remember Cody's block
alongside the goal-line stand against Penn State in the 1979 Sugar
Bowl and George Teague's fleecing of Miami's Lamar Thomas in the 1993
Sugar Bowl. (Technically Teague's play didn't count, nullified by a
penalty, but it remains an indelible Alabama defensive moment.)
It managed just four field goals -- kicker Leigh Tiffin was nearly as
big a hero as Cody, making one from 49 yards and another from 50 --
and has scored only three touchdowns the past three games.
The Tide was outgained by 85 yards, had four fewer first downs and
managed just two plays of longer than 14 yards.
With Tennessee crowding the box to stop Heisman Trophy candidate
running back Mark Ingram (99 yards on 18 carries), Alabama did not
throw downfield to keep the Volunteers honest. That left Saban
sounding annoyed with offensive coordinator Jim McElwain's game plan.
"We can't be so risk-aversive," Saban said. "We've got be more
aggressive in what we're doing on offense right now."
Nobody on the Alabama sideline could have been overly thrilled with
the play-calling on its one trip inside the Tennessee 5-yard line.
After gouging the Vols on that drive with Ingram running from the
Wildcat formation, Alabama suddenly got pass-happy on second-and-2
from the Tennessee 4, throwing incomplete twice and settling for a
Lord knows they weren't happy with that in the stands. One Alabama
fan with a 1980s perm came up to me shortly after the game -- not to
rejoice in Cody's block, but to rip Saban for the goal-line sequence.
"Throw the ball two f------ times from the 1-yard line?" he said.
"Coach Bryant wouldn't do no stupid s--- like that."
So much for the thrill of victory. And now you know why Saban makes
$4 million a year -- to put up with fans like that.
Hopefully the fans will be more forgiving of Ingram, whose one mistake
gave Tennessee hope late in the game.
Leading 12-3 and in complete command, Ingram did something he's never
done before in 277 collegiate carries: he lost a fumble. That's where
the game turned from uninspiring but comfortable to decidedly
Tennessee recovered at the Alabama 43, and maligned quarterback
Jonathan Crompton led a nice drive for the first touchdown the Tide
had surrendered since Oct. 3. Then the Vols executed a perfect onside
kick, and with 1:19 left there was a communal puckering in
Crompton completed two more impressive passes, the first to Gerald
Jones and the second to tight end Luke Stocker. Stocker made a
tremendous catch at the Alabama 27 and held on despite a massive hit
by safety Robby Green, setting the stage for the final kick.
At that point, first-year Tennessee coach Lane Kiffin stood on the
brink of a great breakthrough. And Mark Ingram stood on the brink of
a nervous breakdown.
"Probably the worst feeling I've had," he said. "Ever."
Even Cody allowed himself a moment of dismay as the game came down to
the final play.
"Oh, snap," he thought. "Here we go again."
And there went Terrence Cody again -- through the Tennessee line,
and into Alabama lore.
The Crimson Tide has a bye next week and will host the #9 LSU Tiger's
on Saturday, November 7th. Time (and hopefully tv schedule) TBD!