Ken Simon ran 51 yards for a touchdown with less than five minutes gone as fourth-ranked Alabama opened its season by defeating Louisiana State, 24-7, tonight for Bear Bryant's 307th coaching victory.
Bryant, who will turn 68 next Friday, moved within seven games of Amos Alonzo Stagg's all-time mark of 314 college football coaching triumphs, and it was much easier than expected.
Alabama eased the legendary coach's worries about his offense as an all-new backfield -- quarterback Ken Coley, halfbacks Joe Carter and Jeff Fagan and fullback Simon -- ran and passed virtually at will. The Tide gained 294 yards on the ground.
"We had our nose bloodied early," said LSU Coach Jerry Stovall. "That's the same Alabama team that I've seen year after year."
The Crimson Tide defense showed why it has been touted as one of the best in the nation, never letting LSU get closer than the Alabama 33-yard line until the final 3 1/2 minutes.
The Tigers finally scored with 13 seconds remaining on a five-yard pass from freshman quarterback Timmy Byrd to tight end Malcolm Scott. The score came after the only penalty against Alabama all night, an interference call in the end zone.
Alabama's Peter Kim kicked a 20-yard field goal at 2:21 of the second period and second-string quarterback Walter Lewis capped an 88-yard, 11-play drive by scoring from four yards out 7 1/2 minutes later for a 17-0 halftime lead.
About the only thing Alabama didn't show in the opening half was a strong punting game -- mainly because it never had to punt. When the Tide finally did, however, Malcolm Simmons made a pair of 59-yarders.
Alabama's play stunned the Tigers and silenced a capacity crowd of 78,066 -- third largest in Tiger Stadium history.
Third-string quarterback Paul Fields threw a 44-yard touchdown pass to Mark Nix with 9:16 left to play.