BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — Bo Wallace was on the cusp of prolonging No. 3 Mississippi’s bid for an unbeaten season until LSU safety Ronald Martin got in the way.
Wallace’s pass was intercepted by Martin at the 1 with 2 seconds left, and the Rebels fell 10-7 to the 24th-ranked Tigers on Saturday night.
Ole Miss was lining up for a potential tying field goal from 42 yards, but was called for delay of game. So the Rebels decided to run a play instead and Wallace threw his first interception in a Southeastern Conference game this season.
Soon after, fans were streaming onto the Tiger Stadium field.
Leonard Fournette ran for 113 yards, and LSU (7-2, 3-2) finished with 264 yards rushing against defense that came in allowing 97.1 per game. Anthony Jennings’ short touchdown pass to tight end Logan Stokes gave LSU the lead late in the fourth quarter.
Mississippi (7-1, 4-1) led most of the way, but mainly because LSU turned the ball over four times and missed a short field goal. The Rebels can still win the SEC West by winning out, though that would require beating No. 5 Auburn and No. 1 Mississippi State.
“We’ve been on the good side of these for seven in a row now. This league is brutal,” Mississippi coach Hugh Freeze said. “Give LSU a ton of credit. …. That’s the best offensive line we’ve played and the running backs are very, very good. And, defensively, they’re coming into their own.”
Playing less than 24 hours after coach Les Miles’ 91-year-old mother died, the Tigers played with enough passion and confidence on both sides of the ball to overcome their mistakes and put a dent in the Rebels’ national title hopes.
The Tigers’ defense, buoyed by the deafening roars of the Death Valley record-tying crowd of 102,321, largely stifled Wallace and the Rebels’ offense that was averaging 35.4 points.
Wallace was 14 of 33 for 176 yards and one touchdown — a 15-yarder to Cody Core late in the first quarter. Wallace, who was sacked twice, still scrambled for 40 net yards, and led Ole Miss in rushing. LSU linebacker Kwon Alexander was credited with eight totals tackles — 2 1/2 for losses — and fellow linebacker Kendell Beckwith led the Tigers with 10 tackles.
Jennings only threw the ball 16 times and was intercepted twice. He completed only eight passes for 142 yards, but came through for the winning score on a roll out after a play-action fake on second-and-goal.
Mississippi had two more possessions to come back, but the first one ended with a fourth-and-1 stop in which Beckwith and Jermauria Rasco held Wallace to no gain. Because the Rebels had all three timeouts left, they got the ball back again on their own 25 with 1:19 left.
Wallace extended the drive with a fourth-down completion. Later, an LSU pass interference penalty wiped out what would have been a game-sealing interception, setting up the frantic finish.
It was apparent the Tigers were emotionally pumped up for the game — maybe too much so, judging by three big first-quarter mistakes which arguably resulted in a 17-point swing in the Rebels’ favor.
Kicker Colby Delahoussaye, who’d been perfect on field goals all season, missed a 28-yarder. Later, Fournette fumbled on first-and-goal from the 3. Then came cornerback Jalen Collins’ drop of an easy interception of a floating, underthrown halfback pass by Jordan Wilkins on a trick play Ole Miss tried on second-and-goal from the 10.
Collins’ drop allowed Ole Miss to cap that drive with the game’s opening points on Wallace’s 15-yard pass to Cody Core.
LSU was not deflated, however. The Tigers quickly rode their punishing running game across mid-field until Magee was punished for a second-effort run, breaking tackles and churning his legs relentlessly until safety Cody Prewitt stripped him and defensive end C.J. Johnson recovered.
By the time the first half ended, LSU had rushed for 147 yards. But the Tigers trailed 7-3 at halftime because the Rebels forced a field goal after LSU drove inside the Ole Miss 15 for the third time.