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Russell shines as LSU beats Alabama, improves to 7-0 at home

Nov 12, 2006 - 6:29 AM BATON ROUGE, Louisiana (Ticker) -- As far as JaMarcus Russell and Louisiana State are concerned, there really is no place like home.

Russell had as many touchdown passes as incompletions as the 12th-ranked Tigers won their 12th straight home game with a 28-14 Southeastern Conference victory over Alabama.

In improving to 22-4 as a starter, Russell completed 18-of-21 passes for 207 yards. He tossed a 30-yard TD to Early Doucet to make it 14-0 midway through the first quarter and added a 19-yard scoring strike to Dwayne Bowe 87 seconds into the second period to give the Tigers a 21-7 advantage.

"That was a team victory," LSU coach Les Miles said. "I think in the first half, the offense was spectacular going down the field and moving the football against a very quality defensive front from Alabama."

The Crimson Tide (6-5, 2-5 SEC West) answered on their next possesion on John Parker Wilson's six-yard TD pass to Nikita Stover. But LSU (8-2, 4-2 West) countered midway through the third quarter as Russell connected with running back Jacob Hester for a 17-yard touchdown to cap the scoring.

"Some things coach had in mind (worked well)," said Russell, who did not commit a turnover after throwing three interceptions in last week's win over Tennessee. "We knew we could beat some guys coverage-wise. We just came out and executed."

Keiland Williams rushed for 79 yards, including a 38-yard TD run to open the scoring, and Russell added 39 yards on the ground as the Tigers improved to 7-0 at home this season. LSU has rolled up at least 45 points in five of those contests and has outscored its opponents, 302-50, at Tiger Stadium in 2006.

"People don't look at me running," Russell said. "But whatever I can, I just get yards for my team. ... Most people think I'm big and slow, but I can get out and run."

Russell does not get the national coverage of Notre Dame's Brady Quinn and does not quarterback an undefeated team like Ohio State's Troy Smith or Michigan's Chad Henne. But among those who have watched him this season, he certainly is considered to be in that echelon.

"To me, he is one of the top three quarterbacks in the nation - if not the best," Hester said. "Every game he is getting better and better. He is a great leader for this offense because when he is working hard, it makes the rest of us want to work harder. We know that he is capable of doing whatever he puts his mind to, which is why we all put our faith in him."

LSU only can win the SEC West if No. 11 Arkansas loses next week to lowly Mississippi State and the Tigers win next week vs. Mississippi and triumph the following contest against the Razorbacks.

"If we continue to play like that, we will get a chance to do the things we want to do," Miles said. "Now, one at a time - Ole Miss."

Wilson was 22-of-35 for 290 yards with two touchdowns and an interception. His favorite target was D.J. Hall, who caught eight balls for 142 yards despite playing with an injured shoulder.

"We have stuck together all week and we came out here and played as a team and played together," Wilson said. "It's hard to lose a game like this."

The Tigers outgained the Crimson Tide, 418-369, and averaged 7.6 yards per play. They also played a strong defensive game, limiting Alabama to 3-of-11 third-down conversions while forcing two turnovers and recording four sacks.

"I think we are already heading in the right direction, we just have to keep moving that way," defensive end Chase Pittman said. "We have a lot of talent and the best coaches. When you put that all together, we are a force to be reckoned with."

Jamie Christensen missed field goals of 49 and 40 yards for the Crimson Tide, who have lost three of their last four games.

"We got some guys open down the field," Alabama coach Mike Shula said. "Our offensive line did a good job protecting on early downs, but we just didn't score enough touchdowns."

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