Iron Bowl Flashback: 2009 – Alabama 26, Auburn 21

BamaHammer.com presents a daily Iron Bowl Flashback leading up to Saturday’s game featuring No. 1 Alabama vs. Auburn in the 81st Iron Bowl (2:30 pm CT, CBS).

BamaHammer.com presents a daily Iron Bowl Flashback leading up to Saturday’s game featuring No. 1 Alabama vs. Auburn in the 81st Iron Bowl (2:30 pm CT, CBS).

Alabama’s national championship hopes remained alive thanks to a clutch game-winning drive in the fourth quarter before 87,451 fans at chilly but electric Jordan-Hare Stadium.

Roy Upchurch hauled in a 4-yard TD pass from Greg McElroy with 1:24 remaining to cap a 79-yard, 15-play drive that consumed seven minutes and gave the second-ranked Tide (12-0, 8-0 SEC) their only lead of the game. The scoring pass came on a third-and-3, the last of a trio of third down conversions on that drive.

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“That may have been one of the greatest drives I’ve ever been associated with,” Alabama coach Nick Saban said.

McElroy, who had been criticized at times as a weak link in an offense with a powerful running game, completed his final seven passes for 62 yards. Jones made four catches on the winning drive, three for first downs.

“We didn’t play a great game today,” Saban said. “It’s a great win. I’ve never been prouder of them.”

Auburn fans remained in the stands for several minutes when i

t was over, some seemingly stunned and others applauding a closer-than-expected game, while a sizable crimson-and-white contingent celebrated. A handful of Bama players later returned to the field briefly.

Until the final minutes, Auburn had supplied most of the big plays and its maligned defense largely outplayed the nation’s top unit.

“That may have been one of the greatest drives I’ve ever been associated with,” Alabama coach Nick Saban said.

“You have to love games like this,” Tigers linebacker Josh Bynes said. “It comes down to the end and you find out who the man and who the boy is.”

Auburn outgained Alabama 332-291 and dominated on the ground 151-73. McElroy was 21-of-31 for 218 yards and a pair of touchdowns. He was sacked three times.

The Tigers were shellacked 36-0 by Bama last season to have a six-year Iron Bowl winning streak snapped.

“I just told them that we’re not walking out of here with heads down,” first-year coach Gene Chizik said. “We’re a family. We’re a family when we win. We’re a family when we lose.

“Everybody in that locker room that played did what we asked them to do. They fought for 60 minutes in that game. I’m not disappointed with anybody on our team. Nobody,” he said.

The Tigers stunned the Tide by rocketing out to a 14-0 lead in the first 9:18. Alabama hadn’t allowed a touchdown in two games.

Receiver Terrell Zachery raced 67 yards for a touchdown on an end around on Auburn’s opening drive. It was the longest play Alabama’s defense had given up all season by 15 yards.

Then the Tigers recovered an onside kick to set up another score.

Alabama regained its footing. Richardson scored on a 2-yard plunge and McElroy hit tight end Colin Peek for a 33-yard touchdown that tied it at 14 at the half.

“You have to pick your medicine,” Ingram said. “If you want to stop one thing, we have to execute other aspects.

“Coming on the road, down 14-0 in a hostile environment, we weathered the storm,” he said.

On the first drive of the second half, Todd pump-faked and hit Darvin Adams for a 72-yard touchdown to make it 21-14.

Alabama had three straight trips across midfield, ending with two field goals by Leigh Tiffin and Ingram’s failed fourth-and-1 run.

Auburn was left nursing a 21-20 lead going into the fourth.

“We didn’t play with a lot of passion, and I don’t understand that,” Saban said.

That changed late.

The Tigers had a solid chance to extend the lead after taking over at Alabama’s 44 following yet another defensive stand. But the Tide defense made its best stand of the day, tackling Ben Tate for a 7-yard loss and sacking Todd.

That set the stage for McElroy, who must have won over even his most ardent doubters with the poise and precision he displayed as the clock wound down.

Afterward, Saban headed off the field with his right index finger raised toward Bama fans. A fan in an Auburn orange shirt said, “Undefeated, right?”

Saban tilted his head, expressionless, and walked into the tunnel, undefeated again.

The Crimson Tide and Tigers will meet for the 81st time in series history, with Alabama owning the all-time advantage, 44-35-1. Most recently, the Tide claimed a 29-13 victory in Auburn to clinch the SEC Western Division title and close out the 2015 regular season schedule.

Alabama head coach Nick Saban is 8-6 in his career against Auburn, including a 5-3 overall mark while with the Crimson Tide and a 3-1 record at Bryant-Denny Stadium.

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