Early in Saturday's game between the LSU Tigers and the Alabama Crimson Tide, it appeared that the home team was in considerable danger of being blown out. LSU had built up a 10-0 lead while Alabama committed costly mistakes. However, the situation changed when Jaylen Waddle returned a punt 77 yards for a touchdown.
Late in the first quarter, Alabama forced a punt after getting a much-needed stop. Waddle waited deep in his own territory before grabbing the ball and starting his return. However, LSU receiver Racey McMath grabbed Waddle's facemask and jerked his head around, forcing him to change direction. This didn't cause a penalty, but the speedy Alabama returner was redirected into the best spot possible to make his return.
Instead of being dropped deep in Alabama territory, Waddle raced for the score to put the Crimson Tide on the board for the first time.
JAYLEN WADDLE!!!! 77 YARDS!!
BAMA IS RIGHT BACK IN IT pic.twitter.com/SitxkUWKn6— Abdul Memon (@abdulamemon) November 9, 2019
This was actually the second punt return for a touchdown in Waddle's career. He also scored as a freshman wide receiver in 2018. He also averaged 14.6 yards per punt return. He has been similarly effective with 21.6 yards per return in 2019.
Despite having a potential first-round pick a quarterback in Tua Tagovailoa, Waddle has not been as statistically productive during the 2019 season. He entered the year with 848 receiving yards but only has 297 yards and one touchdown in 2019.
LSU vs. Alabama was expected to be one of the biggest matchups on Saturday, to the point that it was referred to as a possible game of the century. However, the first half was not as competitive as expected. LSU headed to halftime with a 33-13 lead after quarterback Joe Burrow threw three touchdowns.
Without Waddle's punt return touchdown, the first half would have been a complete blowout, but this play provided a brief boost to a struggling team. Although the Crimson Tide did not capitalize as the first half progressed.0comments
The defense, in particular, struggled mightily against Burrow and the LSU offense. According to CBS Sports HQ, the 33 points were the most scored in one half against a Nick Saban team at Bryant-Denny Stadium. The Crimson Tide is generally viewed as a team that automatically sends multiple defenders to the NFL every single season, but this group couldn't make stops when necessary during the first half.
Photo Credit: Kevin C. Cox/Getty