After a disappointing 7-5 season in 1998, Alabama had a bounce-back year in 1999 under third-year head coach Mike DuBose. That season however, still had its hiccups, including the most unlikely of those that came on this day 20 years ago.
The Crimson Tide were ranked No. 18 in the country when they made the short trip to Birmingham to take on a 1-2 Louisiana Tech team on Sept. 18, 1999. Despite being just 1-2, the losses came to top-10 teams in Florida State and Texas A&M.
An already daunting task seemed impossible for Louisiana Tech that late afternoon in Birmingham as star quarterback Tim Rattay went down with an ankle injury, forcing the Bulldogs to turn to Brian Stallworth. Rattay had been injured earlier on the final drive and trailing 28-22, Louisiana Tech was down to 4th-and-26 from the Alabama 28-yard-line with two seconds remaining.
Stallworth took the last snap and fired into the end zone where the ball was plucked out of the air by a leaping Sean Cangelosi as time expired. With the game knotted at 28 and no time on the clock, kicker Kevin Pond avenged two earlier missed extra points to send the Bulldogs homes with an improbable 29-28 victory.
Louisiana Tech led 12-3 at halftime and took a 22-18 lead early in the fourth quarter on Rattay’s second touchdown pass to James Jordan and third of the day. Alabama answered with the next 10 points on a 14-yard touchdown run by All-American running back Shaun Alexander and a field goal from Chris Kemp to go up by six.
Alexander was responsible for all three Crimson Tide touchdowns with two coming on runs and another on a 76-yard kickoff return in the loss. Rattay had passed for 368 yards before the injury. Cangelosi finished with eight catches for 147 yards and two touchdowns.
It was the second time in three years that Louisiana Tech had upset Alabama, but this one was more memorable. The Crimson Tide would go on to win three straight games over ranked teams afterward and eight of the next nine, including two wins over Florida to claim their first SEC title since 1992.
Louisiana Tech would win its next six games before losing to USC in the regular season finale, but given its Independent status, did not receive a bowl bid. Alabama would fall to Michigan in the Orange Bowl, 35-34, in overtime to close the year with a record of 10-3. Two of those three losses came by a single point, including the one that happened on this day 20 years ago.
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