Alabama Football: Reflections on Rocky Block 2009

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Brett Davis-US PRESSWIRE

Growing up as an Alabama fan, I knew how much the Tennessee game meant to the season. You don’t beat Tennessee, your season is considered automatically a disappointment. Even with the lack of prestige this game once had, it still means something.

The 2009 Tennessee game was the first Third Saturday rivalry game I was able to attend. As a student, you naturally have pride for your school. I remember what everybody was saying about Alabama at the time. On track to win a BCS National Championship. Complete team. Number one in the nation. It seemed as if this game, however, didn’t exactly take that into account.

Entering the fourth quarter, even though the score was a mere 9-3 in favor of the Crimson Tide, Alabama seemed to be in control of this game and the defense was clicking on all cylinders. Still, most Tide fans were very uneasy with how close the score was because they knew that one score by Tennessee would change this entire game. Even a fourth field goal didn’t reassure the Crimson Tide faithful this game was all but over.

Then, it happened.

Alabama’s Mark Ingram fumbled the ball at the Alabama 43 and the Volunteers recovered it. They then drove those 43 yards and ended the drive on a Jonathan Crompton pass to Gerald Jones 11 yards for the first touchdown of the game. The score was 12-10 in favor of Alabama.

I remember thinking: “Well, they still have to recover the onside kick, otherwise, this game is over.” They ended up successfully recovering the onside kick. ”

Okay, but they still have to get into field goal range and this Alabama defense has been playing well this entire game.” They end up driving to the Alabama 28 with enough time for a field goal.

“This is it,” I thought. “Tennessee is going to win this game. Our national championship hopes are smashed and we will fall to likes of Tennessee. Unbelievable.”

Tennessee’s Daniel Lincoln lined up to kick a 44-yarder. I was sitting on the end zone area where he was kicking. I turned my back. I couldn’t watch. I told my buddy Gary he needed to describe what was going on, but I don’t think he heard me. I had my radio in my ear listening to Eli Gold, voice of the Crimson Tide.

“…a feeling in the pit of their stomachs that’s hard to explain,” Eli said. Wasn’t that the truth? Then came the kick, and Eli’s call:

“The kick is blocked! The kick is blocked by Alabama! The Crimson Tide wins!”

I turned around and saw the ball on the ground around the 40-yard line, and nose tackle Terrance Cody ripping his helmet off as the team stormed the field. Loud doesn’t appropriately describe Bryant-Denny after that. It was piercing. I couldn’t believe it. That was it. That was the championship moment. And Mount Cody was the man who saved the day for the Tide.

I believe I stayed in the stadium for about 15 minutes afterwards just reflecting on what had happened. My first ever Tennessee game was one that will be remembered as Rocky Block. That game was the pivotal point for Alabama in winning the 2009 championship.

With Alabama currently on track to being in the BCS National Championship Game this year, every game matters, particularly a rivalry game like this. We could have a game where it ends up being the same way it was three years ago.

Enjoy the game this weekend.