The voice of public-address announcer Dan Borne boomed over Tiger Stadium’s speakers: “Please stay off of the field!”
Good luck, Dan.
No. 24 LSU beat No. 3 Ole Miss 10-7 on Saturday night in a heart-pounding, wild classic that returned this heated rivalry to its golden years of the 1950s and ’60s.
How good was it?
LSU fans stormed the field for the first time in more than a decade. An estimated 15,000 — most from the student section — rushed onto the playing surface after a mad fourth-quarter comeback.
Quarterback Anthony Jennings hit Logan Stokes on a 3-yard touchdown pass with 5:59 left — an improbable game-winning completion to a tight end that capped a stunning drive.
The Tigers marched 95 yards — 92 of it on the ground — and Jennings found Stokes for his first career reception.
“This team wanted to make this night special,” coach Les Miles said, “and they did.”
LSU (7-2, 3-2 Southeastern) won a third straight game after the program’s worst loss in 15 years — a 34-point blowout at Auburn — and may have dashed the playoff dreams of previously undefeated Ole Miss (7-1, 4-1).
The Tigers did it by punching the Rebels in the mouth. LSU rolled up 264 rushing yards on a team that entered with the nation’s sixth-best running defense, and the Tigers held Ole Miss scoreless on its final nine possessions.
None were bigger than the final two Rebels drives.
Following the winning touchdown drive, the Tigers stuffed Wallace on fourth-and-1 near midfield, and then Ole Miss had a crazy ensuing possession after an LSU punt.
The Rebels marched to the LSU 25-yard line with 9 seconds left. Ole Miss coach Hugh Freeze sent his field goal team out on third down, but the Rebels couldn’t get a 42-yard field goal try off in time.
After a delay-of-game penalty, Freeze reinserted his offense, and Wallace hurled a ball toward the end zone meant for Cody Core.
The field goal would have been 47 yards, on the edge of Ole Miss kicker Gary Wunderlich’s range.
“With nine seconds on the clock, I thought we could sprint out and either take the flat throw or throw it out of bounds,” Freeze said. “We just didn’t get it done there.”
Safety Ronald Martin picked it off at the goal line and fell to the 2-yard line with 2 seconds left, eliciting a massive celebration from a sold-out Tiger Stadium.
Some of the 102,321 then raced onto the field after a Jennings kneel to celebrate yet another fourth-quarter comeback under their quirky coach.
The Tigers have won 24 games under Miles when trailing in the fourth quarter. And this one came hours after Miles’ mother died. Martha Miles passed away Friday evening. She was 91.
“Miss ya, Mom,” Miles said afterward.
“I want to say thanks to all of those people who have found the time to wish me condolences for my mom,” said Miles, who was given the game ball by the team. “Had a rough night last night.”
He had a great one Saturday in a game that took fans back decades. The squads met multiple times as ranked teams in the 1950s and 1960s as they battled yearly in low-scoring, defensive matches for SEC supremacy. This was the first meeting in Tiger Stadium with both ranked since 1970.
LSU won despite turning the ball over four times. The Tigers survived a wacky first half and a disappointing third quarter — they had just 44 yards.
Jennings threw two interceptions, Leonard Fournette fumbled into the end zone and Terrence Magee lost a fumble, too.
But the Tigers had three running backs break the 60-yard mark, including Fournette’s 113, and they pounded Ole Miss for drives of 11, 17 and 13 plays — the final one capped by Stokes’ touchdown.
Stokes hauled in Jennings’ pass toward the back of the end zone on second-and-goal from the 3-yard line. Jennings faked a handoff to Kenny Hilliard, drawing in a run-focused Ole Miss defense. The quarterback rolled to the right and fired in the pass to an open Stokes.
“Secret weapon. Don’t tell anybody,” Miles said of Stokes, who had no catches in two years at LSU and transferred in 2013 from Northeast Mississippi Community College, about 90 miles from Ole Miss’ campus. The play overshadowed a defense that carried the weight of this win.
Ole Miss had 52 yards on its last 27 snaps, a run that included four straight three-and-outs.
“It’s a crazy atmosphere,” said Wallace, who was 14-of-33 for 176 yards. “This is the craziest place I’ve played. Absolutely was a factor.”
The start of this one was wacky — and not in a good way for LSU.
The Tigers’ first two drives went for 63 and 70 yards, but LSU came up empty. Colby Delahoussaye missed just the second field goal of his career — this one from 28 yards — on the first drive. Fournette ended the second drive by losing a fumble into the Ole Miss end zone. On first-and-goal from the 3-yard line, Fournette carried to the left side, and the ball squirted out.
More funky first-half woes? Magee followed Fournette’s fumble with a lost fumble of his own on the next drive, and LSU’s defense dropped at least two interceptions.
The Tigers had one drive in the third quarter end partly because of a Jennings fumbled snap, and they lost the tunover margin 4-1.
It all worked out in the end, though.
“(Ole Miss) ran into a team that’s improving and believe they can. Finds ways to win,” Miles said.
“We’re going to be special. This is a team that’s ambitious.”
Follow Ross Dellenger on Twitter @DellengerAdv. For more coverage of LSU football, read our Tiger Tracks blog at blogs.theadvocate.com/tigertracks