Usually when it is said that the punter was the “Player of the Game”, it is meant in sarcasm after a lousy team performance that resulted in a loss. In the case of Alabama’s 24-10 win over LSU, it is meant with full sincerity. Crimson Tide punter J.K. Scott was the difference maker on Saturday night in Tuscaloosa.
For the game, the senior punted eight times for 413 yards. That is 114 more yards than the Tide had in total offense. Some kickers will rarely record a 50 yard punt in a game. On this night Scott averaged 51.6 yards. Seven of his eight punts were marked inside the LSU 20. Four pinned the Tigers inside their 10 yard line.
Almost as important as the distance the ball traveled off Scott’s foot was the loft. LSU’s dangerous return man DJ Chark, who already has two punt returns for touchdowns on the season, was forced to make fair catches on five occasions. Two other kicks were downed by Tide players. The one runback he had a chance to return gained two yards but an obvious block in the back by LSU brought the ball back.
Alabama opens the game with a 3-and-out:
4th and 1 at UA 35 - JK Scott punt 56 yards to the LSU 9, fair catch by DJ Chark.
The Tide is up 7-0. They convert one first down but a sack of Jalen Hurts puts them in a hole:
4th and 17 at UA 13 - JK Scott punt 48 yards to the LSU 39, fair catch by DJ Chark.
Alabama takes a 14-0 lead but LSU answers with a long drive and a 21-yard field goal. An answer of their own by the Crimson Tide might have broken the Tigers’ spirit but alas Bama fails to gain a yard:
4th and 10 at UA 25 - JK Scott punt 54 yards to the LSU 21, DJ Chark return 2 yards to the LSU 23. Penalty on LSU illegal block 10 yards to the LSU 13.
Next possession, Alabama gets one first down but the offense stalls again:
4th and 3 at UA 50 - JK Scott punt 44 yards to the LSU 6, fair catch by DJ Chark.
First possession of the second half and it’s a three-and-out for Alabama:
4th and 4 at UA 29 - JK Scott punt 52 yards to the LSU 19, fair catch by DJ Chark.
Second possession of the second half and... yep, you guessed it, three-and-out:
4th and 5 at UA 42 - JK Scott punt 48 yards to the LSU 10, downed.
Alabama is up 24-10 but this one is far from over. It’s another three-and-out deep in Bama territory with a little over nine minutes to go:
4th and 11 at UA 25 - JK Scott punt 58 yards to the LSU 17, downed.
It’s the same score and the Crimson Tide hopes to melt the clock but cannot manage a first down and drains only a minute and 43 seconds. It is still a two score game with 4:39 to play:
4th and 9 at UA 40 - JK Scott punt 53 yards to the LSU 7, fair catch by DJ Chark.
That is five punts of 50 or more yards for Scott. When you hear the phrase “flip the field”, this is exactly what it means.