In Focus: When Time Stood Still
Jones, Davis Fondly Remember Famous Play 40 Years Later
Within the walls of Tiger Stadium lies a field with a rich history of legendary moments. Forty years ago on this patch of grass a group of Tigers fought until the very last second against one or their biggest rivals. On this night, a moment was born that will be instilled in the minds of a group of Tiger gridiron legends forever.
On November 4, 1972, a record 70,502 fans packed Tiger Stadium to witness the Tigers take on the Rebels of Ole Miss. The Fighting Tigers were undefeated at 6-0, and looking to bounce back from a loss to the Rebels in the previous season.
"The two teams didn't like each other very much and the fans hated each other," said 1972 LSU tailback Brad Davis. "It was a great setting for a rivalry game."
The Tigers and Rebels battled neck-and-neck in front of an electric crowd the entire night.
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"The atmosphere was electric beyond the normal high voltage of Tiger Stadium," 1972 LSU quarterback Bert Jones said. "The constant roar made communication almost impossible on the field."
In the fourth quarter, the immense Tiger Stadium crowd was temporarily silenced as Ole Miss nailed a 40-yard field goal to take a 16-10 lead. In the following possessions, LSU struggled to put points on the scoreboard. However, the Tigers were granted one last opportunity on their own 20-yard line with 3:02 left to play.
"Bert was very cool and was smiling the whole time," Davis said. "He knew we would score. He made us very confident."
"There are very few opportunities in life or sports that allow you to experience a situation like this," Jones said. "As a kid everyone dreams of being down three in the World Series with the bases loaded in the bottom of the ninth."
Jones lined up under center 80 yards away from conquering his aspiration. The Ruston Rifle would not disappoint.
Jones led the Tigers to the Ole Miss 10-yard line on a drive that included two fourth-down conversions. With four seconds remaining, the Tigers appeared to be down to their final chance to win.
Jones dropped back 10 yards away from the endzone and threw a pass intended for Jimmy LeDoux that fell incomplete. It appeared that the Tigers had suffered their first loss of the 1972 season.
"I really thought that there was pass interference against Jimmy LeDoux in the end zone," Jones said. "I did not realize there was a second left until I looked at the clock after arguing with the referee for a pass interference call."
With one second miraculously remaining in the game, LSU was granted one final opportunity. The Rebels used their final timeout of the game. The Tigers gathered around LSU Head Coach Charles McClendon, hoping to scheme a way to get the ball across the goal line.
"During the week we practiced a play to use if we needed a two-point conversion," Jones said. "That is what we called."
"This is it, son," Coach McClendon said to Jones before he took the field.
"Coach Mac said I winked at him on the sidelines," Jones said. "I really think it was probably a nervous twitch."
The Tigers took the field with three receivers lined up on the left-hand side, including Davis in the slot. As Jones received the snap, Davis ran an out route toward the left pylon.
"I was wide open after my second step and looked back wondering why Bert was waiting to throw the ball," Davis said. "The Ole Miss linebacker that was supposed to cover me had lost me."
As time expired, Jones spotted Davis near the pylon and threw the ball in his direction.
"I lost the ball in the lower lights for a split second and just threw my hands up," Davis said.
Davis bobbled the football, but maintained his concentration and made the catch. He then dived into the end zone, tying the game at 16-16. Rusty Jackson tacked on the game-winning extra point, propelling LSU to 7-0 on the season.
"It was an elated feeling," Jones said. "It was my dream of hitting a home run in the World Series, or better yet, an LSU victory over Ole Miss in Tiger Stadium."
The 1972 LSU Football team will never forget the magical events of that November night in Death Valley. More importantly, they will always remember the people they shared it with 40 years ago.
"I was very fortunate to be able to play football for LSU and make friendships that still exist to this day," Davis said.