LSU forced to rally by Ole Miss

Staff Writer
Plaquemine Post South
LSU's Jeremy Hill breaks free on a 27-yard touchdown run ahead of the blocking of J.C. Copeland, Chase Clement and La'el Collins in the first quarter of the Tigers' 41-35 SEC West victory over Ole Miss on Saturday afternoon. Hill scored three touchdowns. 
POST SOUTH PHOTO/Peter Silas Pasqua

BATON ROUGE - An 89-yard punt return against Ole Miss on a Saturday Night in Tiger Stadium sparked a fourth-quarter comeback by the eighth-ranked LSU football team, 41-35.

Odell Beckham Jr. brought back memories of Billy Cannon's 1959 Halloween night punt return of the same distance against the Rebels with a dazzling run that ended with a game-tying touchdown.

The point after touchdown tied the game at 35-35 with 9:10 to play, and running back Jeremy Hill scored his third touchdown with 15 seconds remaining that gave LSU (9-2, 5-2 SEC) its margin of victory.

"Everyone had their block, everyone had their man and everyone covered their assignments," Beckham Jr. said. "I saw a crease and I just hit it."

Quarterback Zach Mettenberger became the first Tiger to throw for 200-plus yards in three-straight games since Matt Flynn in 2007. The junior completed 22-of-37 passes for 282 yards. He was intercepted on consecutive throws in the third quarter, but overcame the mistakes to lead the Tigers to a 20th fourth-quarter comeback under head coach Les Miles.

Miles, who became the second-winningest coach in school history with an 84th victory, gave an inspired defense of his team and his senior class following the game.

"I want you to know something," Miles said with growing emotion. "It would be said about my career at Michigan. It was a flop. I underplayed my own expectations. My head coach probably would have told me that you overplayed your physical limitations. My point to you is there is no such thing as a flop that takes the field for our football team.

Hill helped the Tigers turn a wild game into a victory, as he became the first true freshman to rush for three touchdowns in a game since Kevin Faulk against North Texas in1995. For an offense which struggled to finish off drives with touchdowns in the red zone, Hill got in the end zone on runs of 27, 1 and 1-yard, netting 77 yards on 20 carries.

Spencer Ware added 55 yards including a 1-yard touchdown run on fourth-and-goal that gave LSU its only lead of the first half, 17-14.

Tight end Travis Dickson, who entered the game with one career catch for 10 yards, led the Tigers with five catches for 69 yards. Four of his catches were for first downs.

Wide receiver Jarvis Landry added 60 yards on four grabs, while James Wright finished with 64 yards on three catches. Wright setup Hill's first touchdown with a 48-yard catch, and also had a 50-yard reception to the Ole Miss 9-yard line later in the first half that was called back by holding penalty.

Defensively, sacks by Anthony Johnson and Lavar Edwards deep in LSU territory pushed Ole Miss to the limits of its field goal range and led to a miss with the game tied at 35 and less than five minutes to play.

Linebacker Kevin Minter again led the Tigers with 11 tackles including two behind the line of scrimmage. Safety Eric Reid and linebacker Lamin Barrow each added 10 tackles. Safety Craig Loston, Collins and cornerback Tharold Simon each picked off passes and linebacker Deion Jones recovered a muffed punt.

LSU returns to action for the regular-season finale on Friday, Nov. 23, when it travels to face Arkansas. Kickoff on CBS is set for 1:30 p.m. CT in Fayetteville.

Ole Miss (5-6, 2-5 SEC) had the Tigers on their heels for most of the game but gave up three touchdowns in the fourth quarter after building an eight-point lead.

Starting quarterback Bo Wallace split time with backup Barry Brunetti, with the former completing 15-of-35 passes for 310 yards. He also ran for a 58-yard touchdown for the Rebels first touchdown and added a 1-yard score that gave Ole Miss a 21-17 lead just before halftime. He was sacked three times and threw three interceptions.

Wallace was the Rebels' leading rusher, though running back Randall Mackey added 41 yards and Jeff Scott had 39. Wide receiver Donte Moncreif had game-highs of six catches for 161 yards and touchdown catches of 56 and 30 yards.

Ole Miss outgained LSU, 463-427.