Football Rally Foiled by Rebels, 27-24

LSU's Kenny Hilliard
LSU's Kenny Hilliard
Steve Franz
Todd Politz (@tpolitz)
Todd Politz (@tpolitz)
Director of Digital Media

BATON ROUGE -- No. 6-ranked LSU fought past three first-half interceptions to draw even with Ole Miss in the final minutes. However, the Rebels kicked a 41-yard field goal with two seconds to play to turn back the Tigers, 27-24, on Saturday at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium.

LSU (6-2, 3-2 SEC) fell behind 10-0 at halftime, recovered with three touchdowns in an 18-minute span but couldn't get Ole Miss (4-3, 2-3 SEC) off the field on third down to force overtime.

The Rebels converted 11-of-18 third downs including two on its final drive with less than three minutes to play.

Quarterback Zach Mettenberger threw for 274 yards on 19-of-33 passing with a game-tying touchdown. But, it was his career-high three interceptions - two in the Ole Miss endzone - in the first half that prevented the Tigers' high scoring offense at bay.

Wide receiver Jarvis Landry caught the game-tying touchdown and had 121 yards receiving on seven catches. Odell Beckham Jr. added 72 yards on five grabs. LSU running back Jeremy Hill had 64 yards rushing, while Kenny Hilliard added 58 on 11 carries. Each scored touchdowns in the third quarter.

Meanwhile, Bo Wallace played most of the game at quarterback for the Rebels and had a career night. He completed 30-of-39 passes for 346 yards. His backup, Barry Brunetti had the Rebels only touchdown pass of the game, a 2-yarder to tight end Nicholas Parker that gave Ole Miss a 10-point lead. Ja-Mes Logan and Laquon Treadwell each had seven catches for Ole Miss for 65 and 43 yards, respectively. Donte Moncrief did the most damage with five catches for 107 yards.

Running back Jaylen Walton gashed the Tigers for 105 yards on 18 carries with touchdown runs of 2 and 26 yards.

LSU was outgained 525-388, and had nearly a six-minute deficit in time of possession.

LSU won the coin toss and deferred its decision until the second half. The Tigers kicked off to Ole Miss to open the game and forced the Rebels into a three-and-out in less than a minute.

After a 54-yard punt, the Tigers took over at their 19. Hill ran for a first down with seven yards to the 35 and Beckham Jr. added another with an 11-yard catch. A pair of runs by Hilliard netted 16 yards to the Ole Miss 38, but a zero-gain on a run by Hilliard and a sack of Mettenberger on third down caused LSU to punt.

Jamie Keehn's 37-yard effort rolled out of bounds at the Rebels 6 where the Tigers turned up the defensive pressure to force another three-and-out.

Beckham Jr. fielded the punt at the LSU 41 and returned 21 yards into Ole Miss territory, however, a pass in his direction near the goal line on the first play from scrimmage was underthrown and intercepted by Chief Brown.

Ole Miss took advantage of the mistake, completing a 17-play scoring drive that included three third down conversions before LSU's defense forced Wallace off the field with a 4-yard loss on his scramble to the LSU 11. A 28-yard field goal by Andrew Ritter gave Ole Miss a 3-0 lead with 1:23 left in the opening quarter.

Though the Tigers advanced into Ole Miss territory with a 26-yard catch by Beckham Jr. and a 7-yard run by Hilliard, a false start and a 9-yard sack moved the Tigers backward and led to a punt. Keehn lobbed a 27-yard punt that was fair caught at the Ole Miss 17.

The Rebels gained 10 yards on a run Walton and added another first down when unsportsmanlike conduct was called on LSU defensive back Jalen Mills. From its 44, Ole Miss moved into LSU territory with a 16-yard catch by Moncrief. On second-and-6 from the LSU 36, Wallace found Sanders behind cornerback Tre'Davious White, who broke on the back-shoulder pass too early and missed the ball. A 33-yard catch and run put Ole Miss at the LSU 3 where Brunetti scrambled to the right and connected with tight end Nicholas Parker for his first career catch and touchdown.

Ole Miss led 10-0 with 12:14 remaining in the half.

Looking to get on the scoreboard for the first time, Mettenberger completed a 22-yard pass to tight end Travis Dickson on third-and-5. Terrence Magee pushed the Tigers across midfield with a 5-yard run, and Hilliard added 11 more to the Ole Miss 36. An 8-yard catch by Beckham on third-and-2 gave the Tigers a first down at the Ole Miss 20, but Mettenberger's second interception in the endzone ended the threat.

Ole Miss worked its way to midfield with a 25-yard catch by Moncrief, but the Tigers defense applied the brakes and forced a punt.

For the third time in the half, Mettenberger threw into coverage deep down the field and was intercepted. This time, Charles Sawyer ran under the pass at the Ole Miss 11.

After crossing midfield once again, a pair of sacks by Mills kept Ole Miss off the scoreboard.

After throwing for three interceptions in the half, LSU trailed 10-0 at the break.

LSU's run-first strategy didn't result in a first down on its first drive of the second half and the Tigers punted for the third time.

A 27-yard punt by Keehn gave Ole Miss a short field to work with, and the Rebels continued to take advantage of the Tigers mistakes. Walton capped a nine-play, 49-yard drive with a 2-yard touchdown run around the left end, and Ole Miss went ahead 17-0 with 9:29 left in the third quarter.

Trailing by three scores, LSU changed its strategy and began to pass the ball across the middle rather than over the top. After Beckham Jr. returned the kickoff 39 yards, a 23-yard catch by Landry moved the Tigers to the Ole Miss 38. Though a pass into the endzone was underthrown and nearly intercepted for the fourth time, Mettenberger found Kadron Boone for 22 yards to the Rebels 16. A 9-yard run by Hilliard gave LSU a goal-to-go situation where the bruising back plowed in for a 1-yard touchdown.

With the 20th rushing touchdown of Hilliard's career, LSU trailed 17-7 with 6:16 left in the third quarter.

The Tigers finally had something go their way when I'Tavius Mathers fumbled at the LSU 49 and safety Ronald Martin recovered.

Mettenberger missed on consecutive passes in Beckham's direction, but found Landry on third down for 34 yards to the Ole Miss 17. In the redzone, the Tigers used Hill to pound into the endzone with a 3-yard run. Hill's 10th touchdown of the season and 22nd of his career narrowed the Rebels advantage to 17-14 with 3:09 left in the third quarter.

LSU looked to get the ball back in its offense's hands quickly, but Wallace picked up the LSU blitz and converted a third-and-15 from his 19 to ignite the Rebels. Four plays later, Walton sprinted up the middle for a 26-yard touchdown run that pushed Ole Miss' lead back to 10, 24-14, with 0:03 left in the quarter.

A pair of completions on the ensuing drive gave LSU first down at midfield, but the Tigers ran three plays without a yard and punted with 13:50 remaining in the contest.

The decision to punt paid off for Les Miles and the Tigers, as Korvic Neat muffed the fair catch and Alfred Blue recovered at the Ole Miss 13. Though a sack of Mettenberger on third-and-goal from the 7 kept LSU out of the endzone, Colby Delahoussaye converted a 41-yard field goal that pulled LSU within a touchdown, 24-17, with 11:22 to play.

After driving into LSU territory and down to the 7, Ole Miss' attempt to answer the field goal and make it a two-score game was foiled. Ferguson blocked Ritter's 29-yard field goal attempt, sending the Tigers faithful into a frenzy and giving LSU new life.

Mettenberger completed passes of 19 and 16 yards to Landry, then 18 yards to Boone to the Ole Miss 31. After three incomplete passes, the quarterback remained steady in the pocket while waiting for Beckham Jr. to find a hole in the secondary. Then, the pair connected for 15 yards on fourth down and 10.

After a 10-yard run by Magee to the 6 and a 2-yard run by Hill, Mettenberger calmly waited for Landry to work his way back from the back of the endzone to make a diving touchdown catch.

With 4-yard score and Delahoussaye's PAT tied the game at 24-24 with 3:19 to play.

The tie didn't last long, as Wallace converted a third-and-6 with a run to the marker and a third-and-9 with a 13-yard pass to Logan to keep the drive alive. With two seconds to play, Ritter kicked a 41-yard field goal just inside the right upright to give the Rebels a victory.

Attendance on a cool night in Oxford was the largest in stadium history, 61,160.




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