GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Kicker Colby Delahoussaye and LSU chomped the Florida Gators.
Delahoussaye drilled a career-long 50-yard field goal with 3 seconds left to lift the Tigers to a wild 30-27 victory over Florida in Ben Hill Griffin Stadium on Saturday night in a game that included some wacky, frantic fourth-quarter scoring.
LSU got its first Southeastern Conference win of the season, won a 23rd game under coach Les Miles when trailing in the fourth quarter and now rolls into a home matchup against Kentucky feeling good.
The Tigers (5-2, 1-2) snapped a nasty skid against SEC teams and overcame a horrid night on special teams with Delahoussaye’s boot.
Florida returned a punt return for a touchdown, and LSU missed an extra point. Miles’ team limped into the game after humbling conference losses to Mississippi State and Auburn.
This one looked like another until an improbable defensive play late.
With the score tied at 27, Florida was driving for a go-ahead score with about one minute left when Rickey Jefferson intercepted a Jeff Driskel deflected pass, returning it to the Florida 36-yard line with 24 seconds left.
Two plays later, Delahoussaye, a sophomore who was a walk-on a year ago, knocked a low line drive through the uprights to incite a roar from the small contingent of Tigers fans. It sent embattled coach Will Muschamp and the Gators (3-2, 2-2) to a stinging loss and stunned the announced 88,014 in The Swamp.
“It’s awesome. It’s an awesome feeling,” Delahoussaye said. “Childhood dream.”
The finish was one for the ages in a rivalry between teams that have played each other every year since 1971.
LSU players stormed the field following Delhaoussaye’s kick, celebrating after a baffling final few minutes and handing Miles his 100th victory at LSU in true Miles fashion.
It was wacky.
The teams scored four times — twice apiece — in the final 6 minutes, 10 seconds.
Florida took a 24-20 lead to start the rally, LSU regained the lead with 2:40 left and Florida tied it with an 18-yard field goal with 1:49 remaining.
“It was immensely classic battle in The Swamp,” Miles said.
Running back Leonard Fournette ran for a career-high 140 yards, and Anthony Jennings, the only quarterback to play in the game, threw for just 110 yards, but he made some timely completions to his favorite target, Travin Dural.
The two hooked up to convert a third-and-25, and then two plays later Dural made a one-handed 11-yard catch for a touchdown with 2:40 left to give LSU a 27-24 lead.
“I didn’t see it,” Jennings said of the score. “I didn’t even know he caught it. Threw it up there. One-on-one (coverage). I have great confidence in him.”
Said Dural: “He had real good coverage. I made a play on it.”
Florida answered moments later with a 73-yard completion from Driskel to receiver Demarcus Robinson to the LSU 2-yard line with 2:15 left. Cornerback Rashard Robinson tripped during the completion, and Robinson ran free.
The Gators couldn’t get in the end zone, though. They were stuffed on two runs, and tight end Tevin Westbrook, on third-and-goal from the 1, dropped what could have been a game-winning touchdown.
“It was crazy,” Jennings said. “Right in his lap.”
Florida kicked an 18-yard field goal to tie it and then forced LSU to punt on the next series. The Gators were driving before that interception.
Driskel’s pass was meant for receiver Latroy Pittman on a crossing route. Linebacker Kwon Alexander smacked Pittman as the pass arrived, and Jefferson snatched the ball out of the air.
The game was delayed for several minutes while Pittman was attended to and eventually carted off the field. Muschamp said after the game that the team expects him to be fine.
Delahoussaye’s game-winner didn’t come without controversy.
LSU ran the ball on first down with 24 seconds on the clock and without a timeout. The time ticked down to 3 seconds, but officials — suggesting delay tactics by Florida defenders — put 10 seconds on the clock.
Jennings spiked the ball on second down, and Delahoussaye booted the game-winner to elicit a mass celebration from the visiting bench.
“I knew he had it,” Fournette said.
“Credit them. They made plays when they needed to,” Muschamp said. “I’ve never been in the situation when they put seven seconds on the clock.”
The wild win masked some glaring mistakes. Jennings was sacked four times for a loss of 33 yards, and LSU rolled up eight penalties for 80 yards.
Jennings had just 13 passing yards at halftime, and the Tigers’ special teams woes were some of their worst in years.
Speedy Florida return man Andre Debose had a 62-yard punt return for a score in the first quarter, and his 53-yard punt return set up Florida’s go-ahead touchdown with 6:10 left.
LSU got off to another sluggish start offensively. Florida jumped to a 17-7 lead with 11:07 left in the second quarter. The Tigers cut it to 17-14 late in the second half on a risky call from Miles. Facing fourth-and-goal from the 1-yard line, Miles chose to leave his offense on the field, and Hilliard ran in for the score.
The Tigers took their first lead in any SEC game this season with 3:42 left in the third on a leaping touchdown dive from Fournette. Delahoussaye missed the extra point — his third miss in 85 career extra point tries.
He didn’t miss on the one that counted several minutes later. He even kicked it from the wrong hash. Magee’s run set up the snap on the right hash.
“Coach asked me, ‘If you had to choose a hash, which one?’ ” Delahoussaye said, referring to Miles. “I said ‘Coach, anything but the right hash.’ ”
Follow Ross Dellenger on Twitter @DellengerAdv