- Associated Press - Tuesday, January 10, 2012

NEW ORLEANS (AP) - Jeremy Shelley redeemed Alabama’s kickers.

Shelley overcame a few errant kicks to equal a bowl record with five field goals in the Crimson Tide’s 21-0 win over LSU in Monday night’s BCS championship game, writing a feel-good ending for the little guys with the maligned legs.

It meant Alabama (12-1) survived this time though its offense, again, kept getting turned back. Cade Foster missed three field goals in the first game against LSU on Nov. 5 and Shelley had one blocked in the 9-6 overtime defeat.

“I feel like it’s great for both of us to have that redemption and be able to show the Bama nation what we can do,” Shelley said.

He wound up making field goals from 23, 34, 41, 35 and 44 yards.

That matched the bowl record held by Texas A&M’s Kyle Bryant (1995 Alabama Bowl) and Minnesota’s Dan Nystrom (2002 Music City Bowl).

“I haven’t hit a game-winner since I’ve been here,” Shelley said. “Hitting five in a game like this, it’s unbelievable. I can’t imagine anything being better.”

A block, a miss, and a botched extra point turned into mere footnotes for Shelley this time, instead of an agonizing legacy.

Normally the short-yardage kicker, Shelley eased into the night with a chip shot. That surely elicited a small sigh of relief for Alabama fans fearing that special teams might be LSU’s biggest advantage in the game.

“That first one was the most nerve-racking,” Shelley said. “Once I hit that first one, I was like, `All right, let’s keep this going.’”

Foster, who had insisted days earlier he relished the chance at the big kick, lined up for a 49-yarder in the second quarter. Instead, it was a fake.

Quarterback A.J. McCarron, the holder, flipped the ball to Chris Underwood to convert a fourth-and-4. Three plays later, Shelley’s 42-yarder was blocked, almost prompting fears that this one, too, could turn into another kicking disaster.

Far from it.

Ever since that night, Foster’s teammates and coach Nick Saban defended him, noting that the offense kept stalling and forcing long, low-percentage attempts against LSU.

“We did get them a lot closer this time,” left tackle Barrett Jones said.

On Monday night, there was still reason for concern.

McCarron, chosen as offensive MVP, passed for 234 yards and was able to sustain drives if not finish them off.

Heisman Trophy finalist Trent Richardson ran for 96 yards, but didn’t break free until a 34-yard touchdown with 4:36 left, for the only touchdown by either team in eight quarters and an overtime period against each other this season.

By then, Shelley already had matters in hand.

Jeremy did a great job,” Saban said. “We’ve got lots of confidence in Jeremy.”

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