Alabama 13, Vanderbilt 10
By John Zenor, AP Sports Writer
September 9, 2006
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. (AP) -- Freshman walk-on Leigh Tiffin hit a 47-yard field goal in the fourth quarter, lifting Alabama to a 13-10 victory over Vanderbilt on Saturday.
Subbing for an injured Jamie Christensen, Tiffin became the unlikely hero as the Crimson Tide (2-0, 1-0 Southeastern Conference) extended its winning streak over the Commodores to 18 games despite an array of drive-killing mistakes.
Vandy (0-2, 0-1) appeared to force another one, sacking John Parker Wilson for a 13-yard loss on third-and-8.
Alabama coach Mike Shula, who had earlier called for a fake field goal rather than have Tiffin try a 41-yarder, turned to him to win the game. The son of famed former Tide kicker Van Tiffin sent a line-drive through the uprights with 7:34 left.
Alabama had salvaged the opportunity when Wilson sidestepped a defender and hit Nikita Stover for a 36-yard pass on third-and-18.
The Commodores then went three-and-out on the subsequent possession, and the Tide ran out most of the final 5:01.
Vandy got one final chance, taking over at its own 15 with 48 seconds left.
Nickson threw two incompletions and a clock-burning short pass to Earl Bennett before scrambling 9 yards to the sideline. His desperation downfield pass was intercepted by Juwan Simpson to end the game.
The drama was unusual for the series, and subdued Tide fans seemed more relieved than thrilled afterward.
Shula was a sophomore quarterback for Alabama the last time Vandy won a game in the series, back in 1984. Instead, the Tide won its 15th consecutive SEC opener.
Shula's team couldn't put this one away until the end thanks to a number of squandered scoring chances, failing to get points three times after driving inside the Vandy 35.
The biggest blunders came when Goff forced a Tim Castille fumble at the Vandy 13 and jarred the ball loose from Jimmy Johns at the 2.
But Simeon Castille intercepted two passes by Nickson, the second setting up Tiffin's second field goal. He has started the first two games in place of Christensen, out with a groin injury.
Wilson completed 18-of-29 passes for 207 yards, including an interception and a 31-yard touchdown pass to DJ Hall. That TD tied the game at 10-all on the opening drive of the third quarter.
Keith Brown caught eight passes for 99 yards and Kenneth Darby battled for 65 yards on 21 carries.
Wilson and Nickson were both making their SEC debuts as starters. Nickson, a former Alabama prep Mr. Football from Brundidge, was 15-of-23 passing for 140 yards with a TD and three picks. He also ran for 40 yards.
Vandy soured Tide fans' halftime mood with a late 87-yard drive following a turnover to take a 10-3 lead. Nickson fired a 6-yard pass to Bennett, splitting two defenders in the end zone for his first career TD pass.