AUBURN, Ala. (AP) — John Metchie caught a scoring pass from Bryce Young in the fourth overtime to give No. 3 Alabama a 24-22 comeback victory over rival Auburn on Saturday, rescuing the Crimson Tide’s national title hopes.
It was the first overtime in the Iron Bowl.
Freshman Kool-Aid McKinstry tipped away T.J. Finley’s pass in the final OT and Young hit Metchie just as he did in the previous one.
Alabama (11-1, 7-1 Southeastern Conference) moves on to face No. 1 Georgia in the league championship game with its College Football Playoff hopes on the line. The Tigers (6-6, 3-5) dropped their fourth straight game after smothering Young and the Tide’s prolific offense most of the way.
Young capped a 97-yard drive with a 28-yard touchdown to freshman Ja’Corey Brooks — his third catch and first touchdown this season — with 24 seconds left in regulation.
Young converted a fourth-and-7 to Jahleel Billingsley, followed by two incompletions under pressure for an offense that had been held in check for 59 minutes.
The teams traded touchdowns and field goals in the first overtime and both delivered scoring passes after lining up from the 3.
The Tigers had been trying to win their third straight Iron Bowl at Jordan-Hare Stadium, and nearly pulled it off.
Alabama was without two of its top offensive players in the overtime periods.
Tailback Brian Robinson was on the sideline with an apparent leg injury sustained earlier in the game. Star receiver Jameson Williams was ejected for targeting on punt coverage in the first half.
Bottled up most of the game, Young finished 25 of 51 for 317 yards and two touchdowns with an interception. Metchie caught 13 passes for 150 passes.
Auburn’s T.J. Finley, who started the final two games after Bo Nix’s season-ending ankle injury, was 17 of 26 for 137 yards and a pair of touchdowns.
Alabama hardly looked ready to face the Bulldogs and the nation’s top defense most of the way. The Tide had 11 penalties for 129 yards and gave up seven sacks a few days after coach Nick Saban called out the fans for being critical because his team wasn’t blowing out opponents.
Auburn’s defense played terrific and held on for dear life for a team that had blown two straight double-digit leads. The home-field advantage continues to be huge in this intense rivalry even if the Tigers fell short in the end.
Alabama had a chance to move up a spot after No. 2 Ohio State fell 42-27 to fifth-ranked Michigan. The game-long struggle with an unranked team makes that far less certain.
Alabama: Faces No. 1 Georgia in the SEC Championship game.
Auburn: Awaits bowl destination.