Furious Comeback Comes Up Short to State, 34-29
Director of Digital Media
BATON ROUGE -- Big plays by Mississippi State quarterback Dak Prescott foiled the LSU football team's perfect start to the season on Saturday, as the Bulldogs held off a furious comeback in the final minutes by the eighth-ranked Tigers, 34-29.
LSU (3-1, 0-1 SEC) fell behind 34-10 early in the fourth quarter before scoring its first offensive touchdown on a 1-yard run by Kenny Hilliard with 12:34 to play. In the final 1:55, backup quarterback Brandon Harris took advantage of a State's prevent defense to throw a pair of touchdown passes to Malachi Dupre in a 28-second span to pull the Tigers within a touchdown with 1:27 and two timeouts remaining.
The Tigers stopped Prescott and the Bulldogs, forcing a punt and starting at the LSU 20 with 20 seconds left. Harris quickly guided LSU across midfield in two plays.
With five seconds to play at the MSU 46, Harris rolled right and launched a pass to the goalline that was intercepted as time expired to hand LSU's first loss to the Bulldogs in Tiger Stadium since 1991.
Mississippi State (4-0, 1-0 SEC) build its lead on the shoulders of Prescott - along with his and running back Josh Robinson's feet. Staying just out of reach of the LSU defense on key plays, Prescott amassed 105 rushing yards and finished 15-of-24 passing for 268 yards.
After his fumble on the first play of the second half cost the Bulldogs a 25-yard touchdown return by LSU defensive end Danielle Hunter, Prescott responded with a 56-yard scramble for a touchdown on third-and-3. On the following drive, Prescott again found his way out of a closing pocket on third down and dumped a 74-yard catch and run to Jameon Lewis that put State ahead 31-10 with 9:35 left in the third quarter.
For the better part of three quarters, LSU struggled running the ball and didn't have much room to throw until the deficit was nearly too large to overcome. Leonard Fournette led the way with 37 rushing yards, while Kenny Hilliard added 30 with a touchdown on nine carries.
Quarterback Anthony Jennings finished 13-of-26 passing for 157 yards and was sacked three times. He also ran 11 times for six net yards. In the comeback attempt, Harris finished 6-of-9 passing for 140 yards and the two touchdown passes to Dupre.
LSU's Travin Dural led all receivers with 124 yards on six catches, while Dupre had 120 yards on four receptions.
Robinson proved difficult to tackle, carrying for 197 yards to lead the Bulldogs including a 66-yard touchdown run. Lewis had five catches for 116 yards with a touchdown and De'Runnya Wilson had four for 91 yards and a 9-yard touchdown catch to open the scoring.
Mississippi State won the toss and deferred its decision to the second half. The Bulldogs kicked off to the Tigers while defending the north endzone.
LSU tried three-straight runs on its first series, but came up two yards short of the first down and punted. Jamie Keehn's 40-yard effort was returned 21 yards by Jamoral Graham to the Bulldogs 49.
On State's first play from scrimmage, tight end Malcolm Johnson released into space, collected a short pass from Prescott and ran 26 yards to the LSU 26. After a 9-yard pass to Lewis, Robinson earned a first down to the LSU 12. On third-and-7, Prescott lofted a 9-yard touchdown pass to Wilson that put the Bulldogs ahead 7-0 with 10:47 remaining in the opening quarter.
LSU's shutout streak dating to its season opener came to an end after 151 minutes, 37 seconds.
On its second drive of the game, the Tigers were set back by a chop block that negated a 7-yard catch by Hilliard and led to another punt.
Keehn's 56-yarder was fair caught at the Bulldogs 22. A pair of sacks by LSU's Hunter and nickel back Dwayne Thomas pushed Prescott back 12 yards and forced a punt.
LSU looked to have quickly turned momentum in the contest with a trick play that put the Tigers deep in the State redzone. However, the Bulldogs turned up the heat with a goal-line stand which was the defining moments of the half.
After a first down rushing by Jennings, the trick came when Magee took a handoff to the left and ran toward the LSU sideline before putting the ball in his left hand and firing a pass to Dupre who was left alone behind the secondary. The 44-yard gain to the 9 followed by a pass interference call in the endzone game LSU a first-and-goal at the 2. Four-straight runs netted no yards and LSU gave up the ball on downs.
The stunning turn of events - and momentum - continued when Prescott led the Bulldogs to a five-play, 98-yard touchdown drive that ended with a 3-yard run by Robinson. Catches of 26 and 44 yards by Wilson sandwiched a 23-yard run by Robinson, setting up a scoring drive that took only 81 seconds.
With 45 seconds left in the first quarter, LSU was down 14-0.
The Tigers' attempt to answer started with a 20-yard run by Fournette to the LSU 40 and continued with a 15-yard catch by Dupre to the State 43. Two sacks of Jennings cost the Tigers 15 yards and Keehn entered to punt again.
The bleeding continued for the LSU defense on the next play from scrimmage, as State spread the field and Robinson jetted over the left side of the line for 66 yards to the LSU 17. The Tigers stiffened and forced a 27-yard field goal by Evan Sobiesk that pushed the MSU advantage to 17-0 with 9:26 left in the half.
LSU again advanced near midfield but a deep ball in the direction of Dural was knocked away and Jennings was unable to connect with Dupre on a five-receiver crossing route.
Keehn's punt was fair caught at the MSU 4, but Prescott was able to gain a first down with a short run to the 15. A false start put State in a third-and-9, leading to a punt.
With positive field position at the LSU 42, Jennings found Dural for catches of 16 and 22 yards to the MSU 15. A pair of incomplete passes in the direction of tight end Dillon Gordon and Dural led the Tigers to take a 30-yard field goal by Colby Delahoussaye and put points on the board for the first time.
LSU trailed 17-3 with 1:20 left in the half.
Rather than sitting on the ball and running out the clock, Prescott passed short to Gabe Myles who found space for 16 yards along the left sideline. The plan nearly cost the Bulldogs when Prescott was wrapped up by defensive tackle Christian LaCouture but attempted to flip a pass in Robinson's direction that was nearly intercepted by cornerback Tre'Davious White.
After a punt, LSU ran two plays and went into the lockerroom trailing 17-3 on the scoreboard and 263-185 in total offense.
To start the second half, LSU's defense turned up its pressure - and with the intensity came a new volume in the expanded stadium bulging with gold-clad supporters.
LSU cut its deficit to 17-10 only 12 seconds into the second half, but the celebration going on in the stadium was short lived.
Prescott handled the noise and the pressure, finishing a pair of seemingly ill-fated drives with a touchdown run of 56 yards and a 74-yard pass on a busted play.
On his second drive of the half, Prescott completed a 12-yard pass on third-and-10 from his 25 to temporarily calm the LSU crowd. With the volume raised again on third-and-3 from his 44, Prescott escaped the pocket and ran 56 yards for a touchdown that put the Bulldogs ahead 24-10 with 12:44 left in the quarter.
After an LSU three-and-out, Prescott was faced with a third-and-7 from his 26. He again escaped pocket created by the LSU four-man rush, rolled left and found Lewis behind the defense for the long catch and run for a touchdown.
State took a 31-10 lead with 9:35 remaining in the quarter.
The Bulldogs added a 28-yard field goal that followed a 16-play, 88-yard drive. On the second play of the fourth quarter, Mississippi State led 34-10. Prescott kept the drive alive and all but ended the Tigers hopes by getting 12 yards on third-and-9 from his 2-yard line.
But, these Tigers weren't through.
A 49-yard pass from Jennings to Dural to the State 7 gave LSU an opportunity to narrow the gap early in the fourth quarter. Hilliard jumped over the left side of the line for a 1-yard touchdown that cut MSU's advantage to 34-16 with 12:34 remaining.
Then, the Tigers defense stopped Mississippi State on fourth-and-1 at the 3 to give LSU a shot at an improbable - if not impossible - ending.
Harris entered for the first time and connected on passes of 19 yards to freshman wide receiver Trey Quinn, 13 and 25 to freshman running back Darrel Williams, and finally over the top of the defense to Dupre for a 31-yard touchdown.
Harris' 2-point try came up just short of the goalline and the Tigers trailed 34-22 with 1:55 remaining.
LSU's onside kick attempt by Delahoussaye went out of bounds before being touched, but a second-down snap by the Bulldogs sailed over Prescott's head and was chased down by LSU's Thomas at the State 30-yard line.
Two plays later, Harris lofted another pass into the left corner of the endzone and Dupre out-jumped a defender to pull down a 30-yard touchdown pass.
The Delahoussaye PAT pulled LSU within five, 34-29, with 1:27 remaining.
A second onside kick by Delahoussaye was unsuccessful, this time recovered at midfield by State.
LSU used its final two timeouts to force a third-and-8 from its 47 with 1:14 remaining. After Prescott's run came up short, the Bulldogs punted into the endzone with 20 second remaining.
Harris' 22-yard pass to Dural and 12-yard run across midfield gave the Tigers an opportunity at throwing to the endzone. However, Harris' final heave was intercepted at the goalline to end the game.