By Chris Macaluso
Special to LSUsports.net
BATON ROUGE -- LSU had managed to put its heel on every opponent playing in Tiger Stadium this year and step down hard in the seven games leading to the home finale of the 2006 season Saturday.
But, in the eighth game, Ole Miss kicked back and stretched the heavily-favored Tigers to their limit before LSU finally claimed a 23-20 overtime victory before a sold out and often dumfounded Tiger Stadium crowd.
The win advanced LSU’s record to 9-2, 5-2 in the Southeastern Conference and gave the Tigers an undefeated home record for 2006. It set up a day after Thanksgiving showdown against a surging Arkansas team in Little Rock that will be the fourth game against a top-10 opponent played by LSU on the road this season. Arkansas clinched a spot in the SEC Championship game with a win over Mississippi State Saturday. A win in next Friday’s game could secure a spot for LSU in one of the five much coveted BCS bowl games.
Ole Miss sank to 3-8 overall and 1-6 in the SEC. The Rebels have a final shot at salvation for this season when they host bitter rival Mississippi State Friday.
The Rebels soundly beat LSU in every aspect of the game through the first half, especially on special teams, and carried a 20-7 lead into the fourth quarter. But, LSU fought back in the final quarter, scoring on a four-yard pass from JaMarcus Russell to Early Doucet with 8:46 left in the game and for the final time in regulation with just 14 seconds to play when Russell connected with Dwayne Bowe from five yards out on fourth down to tie the score 20-20.
The Tigers lined up to kick what was to be the winning extra point, but that try was shoved back at place kicker Colt David by 6’5” offensive lineman John Jerry, who was brought into the game on extra point coverage for the first time this season by Ole Miss Coach Ed Orgeron. The blocked point after forced the game into overtime. The touchdown capped an 11-play, 58 yard drive that started with 2:35 remaining and LSU possessing just one timeout.
Orgeron called timeout just before the extra point attempt to make sure he had the proper players in the game to give his team the best chance to block the kick. He said it was a play his team had practiced all week that involved three linemen who don’t usually play on point after and field goal tries.
Ole Miss claimed the first possession of the overtime period and leaned on powerhouse running back BenJarvus Green-Ellis for four yards on first down. But an ineffective quarterback scramble by Brent Schaeffer on second down forced Ole Miss into a throwing situation. Schaeffer was overwhelmed by the Tiger blitz on third down and was forced to fumble by safety Daniel Francis. The bounding ball was controlled by defensive lineman Tyson Jackson, handing the Tiger offense a chance to claim the victory.
LSU turned to sure-handed tailback Jacob Hester for five consecutive running plays setting up David’s chance to split the south endzone uprights on a 26-yard attempt to finally claim the win for the ninth-ranked Tigers. David had connected on 77 consecutive extra point attempts before the would-be game winner was blocked. He also had a shot at a 48-yard field goal in the third quarter that fell well short.
“Everything that could happen benefited Ole Miss in the first half and they played well,” said LSU Coach Les Miles. “Give them credit. They ran the football against us more than I’ve seen and they played well. Our football team understands how to come back from behind. We didn’t panic at halftime.”
The Tigers had every reason to panic at halftime. They trailed 17-7, looked largely ineffective on offense and defense and especially special teams, had managed just 97 yards of offense and had committed 55 yards worth of penalties. But, the second half looked much different for LSU though the score didn’t tilt to its favor until the last play of the game. LSU ended the game outgaining the Rebels 308-195.
Russell finally piloted his team to a win by completing 20-of-36 passes for 223 yards and three touchdowns after appearing confused and frustrated by a Rebel blitz that cause him to uncharacteristically miss wide open receivers. The Rebels countered with Schaeffer and Seth Adams who combined to complete just 9-of-19 passes for 95 yards and one touchdown.
The mule for the Rebels was Green-Ellis who entered the game as the second-leading rusher in the SEC. He hit the LSU defensive line with brute force all night, often fighting off multiple tackles on his way to 96 yards on 28 carries and one touchdown.
“We came down here to win the football game,” Orgeron said. “In some ways we’re proud of our football team, but in other ways we’re very disappointed that we didn’t find a way to win the game in the fourth quarter.”
The Tigers took possession at their 41-yard line with 11:13 to play in the game. Russell passed the ball six times in the next eight plays including a 4-yard completion to Doucet in the endzone to end the drive and cut the Rebel lead to 20-14 after the David point after. The touchdown capped a 2:27 drive and gave the Tigers new life with 8:46 remaining in the game.
The Tiger defense stiffened on the ensuing drive, holding the Rebels to one yard on the first two plays before Ole Miss pushed itself back inside its 10-yard line on false start penalties.
LSU claimed possession at midfield following the punt by Ole Miss with a chance to try to claim the lead. But, after advancing to the Rebel 34, Russell faced a 3rd-and-10 and an Ole Miss blitz that knocked the ball from his hands. LSU recovered the fumble at midfield but was forced to punt leading to the necessity of the game tying drive at the end of the game.
LSU scored the game’s first points thanks largely to an Ole Miss botched fake punt that set the Tigers with a first down at the Rebel 41-yard line. Russell connected with Craig Davis for 24 yards on the drive’s third play giving LSU a first-and-goal at the Rebel 7-yard line. A holding penalty against the Tigers moved the third down play back to the Ole Miss 13, but that only gave Bowe a little more space to find a wide open seam in the Rebel defense. Russell spotted Bowe just beyond the goal line with 13:55 to play in the half and the Tigers took a 7-0 lead after a six-play drive.
Ole Miss bounced back quickly though, with help from a special teams’ mistake by LSU. Chris Jackson’s first kickoff sailed deep into the south endzone. But, an offsides penalty against LSU made Jackson kick again, giving Marshay Green the chance to return the next kick all the way to the LSU 34. Six plays later, under a heavy LSU rush Shaffer lobbed a screen pass at the 22-ayrd line to back-up running back Bruce Hall who sprinted past the LSU defense and into the endzone with 9:55 remaining in the half. The point after tied the score at 7-7.
Ole Miss averaged nearly 39 yards on four kickoff returns during the contest.
The Rebels took the lead shortly after by turning to its special teams again. A personal foul against LSU on the point after try allowed Ole Miss to kick from midfield and attempt and recover an onsides kick. The successful trick gave Ole Miss a first down at the LSU 39. Six plays and 2:51 later, Green-Ellis launched himself over the LSU defense and across the goal line to take a 14-7 lead with 6:57 to play in the half.
The Tigers narrowly avoided a deeper scoring deficit when the Rebels missed out on their last scoring attempt of the half. Ole Miss started their final first-half drive at the LSU 32 after a short punt from Jackson and a 12-yard return. The Rebels pushed the ball to the Tiger 19 but were stopped when Shaffer overthrew an open receive in the endzone. Joshua Shene’s 37-yard field goal attempt sailed wide right, preserving the halftime score at 14-7.
Shene redeemed himself on the opening possession of the second half while LSU’s special teams bruised itself even more. Jackson’s kickoff sailed short, giving Green the chance for a 62-yard return that gave the Rebels a first down at the LSU 32-yard line. The Rebels managed 11 yards before LSU’s defense stopped the drive forcing Shene to kick a straight 38-yard field goal through the north endzone uprights with 12:12 to play in the third quarter. The three points gave Ole Miss a 17-7 advantage.
LSU tried to answer the score with a field goal of its own on the ensuing drive. The Tigers advanced to the Rebel 31 but stalled forcing David to attempt a 48-yard kick that landed under the cross bar in the south endzone.
Ole Miss took over with good field position again and proceeded to hammer the Tiger defense down the field on the ground. The Rebels advanced down to the Tiger 25 in 10 plays before LSU finally knocked Ole Miss back when Francis blitzed and sacked Adams on third down. Shene entered the game again and again his kick sailed true into the north endzone from 41 yards out. The successful kick gave the Rebels a 20-7 lead in the waning moments of the third quarter.
LSU attempted to rebound on the ensuing drive but stalled at the Rebel 34 yard line after it appeared Davis had caught a first down pass at the Rebel 20-yard line on a fourth-down try. The original ruling was that Davis caught the ball and fumbled. But, the play was reviewed and it was determined Davis dropped the pass and the Rebels claimed possession on the turnover on downs.
1. LSU’s game captains were 25 Justin Vincent, 41 Chris Jackson and 80 Dwayne Bowe.
2. Ole Miss won the toss and deferred to the second half. LSU received the opening kickoff.
3. The LSU Sports Information office recognized senior student workers William “Thrill” Martin from Lake Charles, La., Alex Restrepo from New Orleans, La., and Sara McGinnis from New Orleans, La.
4. Tigers extending their consecutive starts streak today were: FS LaRon Landry (46), CB Chevis Jackson (24), DE Chase Pittman (17).
5. TE Mit Cole started in the two TE set and MLB Jacob Cutrera each recorded their first career start in tonight’s game.
6. LSU has recorded at least one sack in 17 straight games after a second quarter sack by Charles Alexander in tonight’s game. The last time LSU’s defense did not record a sack was against North Texas last season.
7. LSU has outscored its opponents 115-14 in the first quarter this season. Florida and Alabama are the only teams to dent the scoreboard in the first quarter against LSU.
8. Tonight’s attendance of 92,449 is the third largest in Tiger Stadium history.
9. LSU outscored its opponents 108-7 in the first quarter of home games this season.
10. LSU outscored its opponents 188-37 in the first half at home this season, including the 7-14 score tonight.
11. The Tigers have outscored their opponents in home games this season by a margin of 325-70.
12. Defensively, the Tigers have allowed only six touchdowns in 32 quarters in Tiger Stadium this season.
13. With the score tied at 20 apiece at the end of regulation, LSU played its first overtime game since defeating No. 3 Alabama, 16-13, in Tuscaloosa last season.
14. LSU won the toss and elected to play defense in overtime.
15. The Tigers improved to 6-2 all-time in overtime games, which includes a 5-1 mark in Tiger Stadium.
16. LSU upped its home winning streak to 13 straight games, dating back to last season. The last time the Tigers lost a game in Tiger Stadium was a 30-27 setback to Tennessee last year.
17. The Tigers won their 14th straight game in the month of November. The last time LSU lost a game in November was a 21-20 loss at Arkansas in 2002.
18. LSU recorded its first eight-win home season in school history, and the victory also marks only the 12th time in school history that the Tigers had gone undefeated at home.
19. WR Craig Davis pulled in a 12-yard reception in the first quarter to extend his consecutive games with a reception streak to 33.
a. Davis moved into eighth place in LSU career receiving yards with his 83 yards tonight. The senior now has 1,988 career receiving yards.
14. Dwayne Bowe pulled in a 13-yard reception in the second quarter to extend his consecutive games with a reception streak to 23 straight games.
b. Bowe pulled in his 10th receiving touchdown of the season and 24th of his career on a 13-yard pass from JaMarcus Russell with 13:55 left in the second quarter.
c. Bowe’s second-quarter TD score moved the senior into a tie for third-place on LSU’s single season receiving TD list.
d. Bowe later hauled in his 11th receiving touchdown of the season and 25th of his career on a six-yard pass from Russell with 0:14 left in the game.
e. With his 64 yards receiving tonight, Bowe moved into fifth in LSU career receiving yards with 2,257.
20. With his three touchdown passes tonight, QB JaMarcus Russell now has 24 TD passes this season, which is the second-best total in LSU single season history. For his career, Russell now has 48 TD passes.
a. Russell accumulated 223 yards passing tonight, moving his career total to 6,080 yards, which ranks fourth all-time in LSU career passing yards.
b. Russell moved into fourth place in LSU career passing attempts with his 36 attempts tonight. The junior now has 741 passing attempts for his career.
c. Russell led the Tigers to a fourth quarter or overtime victory for the eighth time in his career. It was also the second game-winning drive Russell has engineered this season
21. With their two touchdowns tonight, the duo of JaMarcus Russell and Dwayne Bowe became the most prolific pass-catch combo in school history surpassing Tommy Hodson and Wendell Davis. The two shattered the mark with 22 career pass-catch touchdowns culminating on the game-tying score with 0:14 remaining in the game.
22. PK Colt David’s streak of consecutive successful PATs made came to an end at 77 following the blocked extra point with 0:14 left in the fourth quarter. David’s streak finishes as the second longest in school history.
23. With a tackle in the first quarter, FS LaRon Landry extended his tackles in consecutive games streak. The senior has now made a tackle in 50 straight games.
24. With a tackle in the first quarter, SS Jessie Daniels extended his tackles in consecutive games streak. The senior has now made a tackle in 39 straight games.
25. WR Early Doucet pulled in the seventh TD reception of the season and 14th of his career with a four-yard reception from JaMarcus Russell with 8:46 left in the fourth quarter.
OLE MISS POSTGAME NOTES
GAME #11 * AT #9/9 LSU * NOVEMBER 18, 2006 * 7:00 P.M. CT
- Tonight’s meeting was the 95th all-time between Ole Miss and LSU, with the Tigers leading the series 54-37-4.
- LSU owns a 36-24-1 mark in games played in Baton Rouge.
- LSU has won five-straight in the series.
- Ole Miss is now 6-5 in overtime games and 0-2 on the season.
DEFENSE: Jonathan Cornell (Fr., WLB)
- Serving as captains for the game for the Rebels were seniors Andrew Wicker (OL) and Patrick Willis (LB) and junior Robert Lane (TE).
- Ole Miss won the toss and elected to defer until the second half.
- The Rebels are now 0-4 this season versus teams ranked in the Top 25. The last ranked team Ole Miss defeated was #25 South Carolina in 2004.
- Junior RB BenJarvus Green-Ellis led Ole Miss in rushing for the 11th-straight game ... Green-Ellis finished with 96 yards on 28 carries with 1 TD ... He now has 962 yards on the season and needs just 38 yards to become Ole Miss’ first 1,000-yard rusher since Deuce McAllister recorded 1,082 yards on 212 carries during the 1998 season ... Green-Ellis also posted a career-long reception of 19 yards in the first quarter.
- Sophomore WR Mike Wallace recorded a catch for the 10th-straight game ... Wallace finished the game with four catches for 35 yards.
- Junior RB Bruce Hall recorded his second career TD with a 22-yard catch from junior QB Brent Schaeffer ... It marked the first career TD reception for Hall and his second-straight game with a TD.
- The Ole Miss offense recorded TDs on back-to-back possessions in the first half marking just the third time this season they have scored TDs on back-to-back possessions ... They previously did so versus Memphis and Vanderbilt, both Rebel wins.
- Senior LB Patrick Willis and Junior LB Rory Johnson led the Rebel defense with 11 tackles apiece ... Willis (five solo) has now recorded 10 or more tackles in 17 of his last 19 games ... Johnson has now recorded 10 or more tackles in five of the last six games and has a total of 76 tackles combined in his last six outings.
SPECIAL TEAMS NOTES
- Freshman K Joshua Shene missed a 37-yard field goal with 30 seconds remaining in the first half, before connecting on a 38-yard attempt and 45-yard attempt in the third quarter ... The 45-yard field goal was the second longest of his career ... He made a 52 yard attempt in Ole Miss’ win over Northwestern State ... Shene is now 12-of-15 on the season ... He had connected on nine-straight field goals prior to the miss ... Shene was good on 2 PATs and has connected on all 18 of his PATs on the season.
- Sophomore LB Jamarca Sanford picked up his first career carry on a fake punt ... Sanford rushed for three yards, picking up a Rebel first down ... Sanford also recovered an onside kick with 9:48 remaining in the second quarter ... It marked the first time Ole Miss recovered an onside kick since Mike Espy recovered one versus Wyoming in 2004.
- Freshman WR Marshay Green returned Ole Miss’ first kick-off of the second half for 62 yards, a career-best ... Green also had a 53-yard return in the second quarter, tallying 115 yards on kick-off returns ... His 62-yard return was the second longest of the season for Ole Miss as sophomore RB Mico McSwain returned a kick-off for 69 yards versus Vanderbilt ... Green also had 14 yards in punt returns on the evening.
- Sophomore P Rob Park attempted his second career pass on a fake punt late in the first quarter ... Park’s pass to TE Robert Hough went incomplete ... The attempt was the second fake punt of the game and the third of the season for Ole Miss.
- Freshman OL John Jerry blocked the PAT after LSU scored to tie the game at 20-20 with :05 remaining. It was the first block of Jerry’s career.
LSU COACH LES MILES QUICKIE QUOTES
"This game, Ole Miss had an open week and made the best of it. Our team withstood the situation. Ole Miss stole a possession with an onside kick. Everything that could happen benefited Ole Miss in the first half and they played well. Give them credit. They ran the football against us more than I've seen and they played well. Our football team understands how to come from behind. We lost some possessions. But we didn't panic at halftime ... Our defense was going to stop them and we were going to have enough time to come back and win. I'm disappointed in some of the return yards their team got against us. Our team understands the situation they are in and they win. I'd much rather win ugly than the alternative."
Reaction to the death of Coach Bo Schembechler...
“I have refrained from making a comment about the passing of Coach Schembechler of Michigan. I can tell you that football has lost a great man. The old coach will be missed at Michigan and across the country. His effect has been widespread, not only in football, but in other areas. I will miss him. He was my mentor. He gave me my first chance. I thought about him a lot today. I can tell you that Michigan team fought their heart out for Bo. It is a shame that someone had to win that game other than them. There won’t be another like him. He had it. He was unique. I was very fortunate to be coached by him. If I look back, everything that I have in my personal and professional life is in some way tied to Michigan and that man. He will be missed. I can tell you there are a lot of teary-eyed men with Michigan ties all over this country.”
LSU OFFENSIVE PLAYER QUOTES
PK Colt David
On tonight’s game...
“It is all about the outcome. We struggled in the early going but we picked it up in the fourth quarter and our defense was excellent. We came through in the end and that is the most important thing.”
On the blocked extra point...
“To be honest I haven’t had an extra point blocked since early in high school. I thought the kick was one of my better kicks. I hit it solid and everything felt good, it just didn’t follow through. I was glad I got another chance with the field goal in the end.”
On what he was thinking about when Ole Miss called a time out before his kick...
“When Ole Miss called a timeout I was trying to put myself in a different place. I was just thinking about being back on the practice field. I wanted to take myself out of the situation and just focus.”
WR Dwayne Bowe
On his late-game touchdown...
“JaMarcus told me before the play ‘go to the left and I need a big one out of you.’
I told him ‘just put it in my reach and I promise I will come through for you.’ As we lined up for the play, we both looked at each other because we knew we could do it.”
On how the team improved in the second half...
“I feel great with the outcome. Early in the game Ole Miss came out and disguised a couple of defensive schemes which put our offense off course. Once we started the second half JaMarcus started getting his reads down and he came through in the end.”
On what went wrong in the first half...
“I think it was a mental thing and a lot of our guys were banged up going into the game. I told all the guys you have to push through the adversity. I told the offensive line to give the quarterback just a few more seconds and the playmakers are going to do what they have to do.”
On PK Colt David...
"I am proud of him. He works hard during practice and he came out and showed the whole state what he was capable of.”
LSU DEFENSIVE PLAYER QUOTES
On the first half...
“We went in at halftime, not only myself but some of the other guys and even the coaches, came in and said ‘this is not LSU football.’ We all knew it. They got a few breaks. They had good field position the first half. They didn’t have to get too many yards to get a field goal in. We had some mental errors up front. So, we got together at halftime and said ‘let’s go out there and play LSU football.’ We made sure we were all on the same page. We went out in the second half and dominated.”
On how important it is to find a way to win...
“It is real big. As a team you know when one guy or one side of the ball is not playing to the best of their ability so we go in and make adjustments at halftime. When you come with your adjustments well everybody plays well. It has a lot to do with leadership. A lot of guys, even some of the younger ones, came in at halftime and said ‘hey, it’s senior night, let’s go out there and do it for the seniors.’ The seniors that are playing were giving their all and they knew that so we made the necessary adjustments at halftime.”
On Colt David...
“That’s all he does at practice so we expect him to make the kick. He came to the sideline and the whole defense patted him. I went to him personally and said, ‘we have been in this situation before and we are not scared. The defense is on us and we are going to give the ball back to you. If it comes down to it again you are going to make the next kick.’”
FS LaRon Landry
On the game...
“We started off kind of rough. In the second half we had to pick it up. They had established the running game on us and we had to come together as a defense and stop the run and play as a team. We made a couple of adjustments at halftime to go back out and stop the run.”
On what he attributes the win to...
“It was just our passion for the game. We came together as a defense and as a team and stopped the run. We played smart football and under control. We were not reading our keys well in the first half.”
OLE MISS HEAD COACH ED ORGERON QUOTES
Opening Statement ...
"We came down here to win the football game. I felt that our gameplanning and our attitude was to win the football game, take some shots, to beat a team that was very talented. In some ways we're proud of our football team, but in other ways we're very disappointed that we didn't find a way to win the game in the fourth quarter. We competed. It was 20-20; we blocked a field goal; we get an onside kick; we fake a punt. We do a lot of things that show improvement in our program over last year when LSU manhandled us, but there's no way that we're going to stay satisfied about just coming here and going to overtime. We got a find a way; I got to find a way to win that football game. I feel bad for my young men. They played their hearts out for our fans, and we came here to win the game. So we have to get better, but we're going to have to forget about this really quick because we have Mississippi State coming to our house. And we're going to get ready."
On how his team was able to put so much pressure on JaMarcus Russell ...
"Having Peria Jerry and Jeremy Garrett back at defensive line, I felt that we could rush them. We changed a couple of techniques. We had a couple blitzes. I wish we could have got him down one more time."
On if he called a special play on the blocked extra point ...
"We wanted to make sure that we had several guys that we had to substitute. We brought in John Jerry and Michael Oher. We put him (Jerry) in and Michael Oher, two offensive linemen, and we just put in a special block for this week."
On why he took out Brent Schaeffer and put in Seth Adams ...
"We wanted to give Seth a chance. We felt that we were stalling a little bit, especially going into the redzone, and we just have made a couple of plays. So I wanted to give Seth a chance."
OLE MISS OFFENSIVE PLAYER QUOTES
RB BENJARVUS GREEN-ELLIS
On attempting to gain 1,000 career rushing yards...
“When I go out there I just try to run as hard as I can on every play, so that’s not really on my mind.”
On the team’s excitement...
“We’re always fired up. We play with a lot of emotion on our team. (Head) Coach (Ed Orgeron) showed a lot of emotion and we just tried to follow his lead and try to get a win.”
On coming off of a tough loss...
“We’re going to be ready to go. We’ve already got our minds away from this game. It’s in the books. Win or loss, we’ll put it behind us and we’ll get ready to go for Mississippi State. The separation starts tonight.”
QB SETH ADAMS
On playing in the noise in Tiger Stadium...
It was fine. Coach (Orgeron) talked about it all week, we were just going make it just as if it was our home crowd. I don’t think it was a factor at all, I think it just motivated us more than anything. We work with crowd noise in practice, and we just have to block all that out and play the game and be as focused as possible.
On the game...
“Everyone saw a good SEC team here in Ole Miss. We played hard, we battled hard, we just came up a little short. It’s a great group of guys, we just came out short, but we played our butts off.”
OLE MISS DEFENSIVE PLAYER QUOTES
MLB Patrick Wills
On the next game...
"We have one more game to play, but it's an instate rival. This is a team that we want to beat for pride. Monday we will get back and get ready for Mississippi State."
On not being able to finish the game with a win...
"I don't know we just play the game at that moment. We are going to find out what it is that keeps us from victory. It's unfortunate that we only have one more game. The coaches will find out what it is and work with us to fix it. We are going to get it corrected and win ball games."
On how LSU gained control at the end...
"They just spread the ball out more. They started to throw the ball deep and with the entire defense we had couldn't hold them. They were throwing deep all the time and they were keeping us on top of the ball. Fortunate for them we couldn't hold on to them. We were taught on our defense that when they are deep you need to play hard and hold them. They came out this game and it worked for them. They walked away with a victory."