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Gamer: Ole Miss loses heartbreaker on the road at LSU, 53-48

Gamer: Ole Miss loses heartbreaker on the road at LSU, 53-48

BATON ROUGE, La. –  In 1959, Billy Cannon broke many Ole Miss hearts by running for an 89-yard punt return in the rain at Tiger Stadium to edge the Rebels.

Saturday, it took a host of Tigers to hold off Ole Miss in another storm.

Like Cannon, LSU was able to score late, this one on a 45-yard pass from Max Johnson to Kayshon Boutte, and again the Tigers were able to stop Ole Miss on its final drive to preserve the 53-48 win.

Johnson, in his first home start for LSU, threw for 435 yards and three touchdowns. Ole Miss quarterback Matt Corral countered with three scores himself, but five interceptions proved too much for the Rebels to overcome in the driving thunderstorm.

Ole Miss had a shot to win, but the Tigers were able to mount a late drive to overcome a deficit to win the game.

We had them on the ropes obviously and had them on the ropes ahead with the ball. We make two first downs (on the late Rebels’ drive) and win the game. So, it’s really tough because things were aligned so well, we discussed it all week.

Head coach Lane Kiffin on the loss to LSU

Yet, after 21 days between games – the longest lapse in 120 years — the Rebels seemed to show no rust to begin the game.

Rebels strike first in the opening period

After the Landsharks provided a three-and-out on LSU’s initial possession, Ole Miss got into Tigers’ territory when Corral hit tight end Casey Kelly with a 57-yard strike. Two plays later, Corral found Sanders with a 20-yard scoring strike. Luke Logan’s kick gave the Rebels an early 7-0 lead.

Corral’s stats were impressive on the first drive. He completed 3-for-3 for 81 yards. His passer rating was an astronomical 448, but then the struggles began — and it wasn’t all on Corral. The offensive line had problems with the Tigers’ pressure, and receivers couldn’t get separation.

LSU got a field goal later in the first quarter and then the Ole Miss disappeared on the next offensive snap. Corral tried to throw an out route to Jonathan Mingo, but Jay Ward stepped in front of the pass and ran it back 31 yards for a touchdown. York’s kick put the Tigers ahead, 10-7.

Corral threw his second interception as the Rebels were driving in the late in the first quarter, but after starting 3-for-3 on the first drive, the Ventura, Calif., native went 2-of-9 the rest of the period.

The Tigers capitalized on the turnover early in the second quarter. LSU drove 86 yards that culminated in a one-yard quarterback sneak by Max Johnson on fourth-and-goal to extend the Bayou Bengals’ lead to 17-7 after York’s kick.

With the offense struggling, Jerrion Ealy decided to take the scoring into his own hands on the ensuing kick. The sophomore took the kick in the back of the end zone and decided to return it instead of taking a knee. It was a good decision.

Ealy ran the kick back down the far sideline and traversed the LSU kicking team for the statistically accurate 100-yard return. Logan’s kick pulled the Rebels to within three points, 17-14.

It was Ealy’s second career touchdown return. He ran one back 94 yards last season against Southeastern Louisiana.

Ole Miss surrendered the ball on an unusual way on the next drive. As Corral moved up in the pocket, Ali Gaye popped the ball out of the quarterback’s hand and as Gaye fell to the ground, the ball landed in his chest to give LSU possession.

Facing a fourth down, the Tigers scored on its second opportunity in a final-down situation. Johnson tossed a short pass to Kayshon Boutte who ran 32 yards to extend the LSU lead. After York converted, Ole Miss found itself down 24-14.

The Rebels faced a gut check in their next possession. Ole Miss passed that test.

It only took six plays in a tad over a minute and a half for the Rebels to slice into the lead. Henry Parrish, Jr., got the offense in striking distance with a 24-yard reception to get the ball to the three, and two plays later, the freshman blasted in for a touchdown. Logan’s third conversion put the Rebels to within three again, 24-21.

Just before the half, LSU scored on its third fourth-down conversion attempt. This time, Johnson found Boutte from 18 yards for a touchdown and once again, the Rebels were down 31-21.

With less than a minute remaining before the break, Corral threw an ill-advised pass toward Parrish, but it hit Jabriil Cox in the chest and LSU had the ball deep with seconds remaining.

“We turn the ball over six times, and so if you usually if you turn the ball over six, and your minus five, you’re not even in the discussion about winning the game,” Kiffin said.

As time nearly expired in the second quarter, York added another kick to make the halftime score 34-21.

Second half action

The rain began to fall in the second half and the interceptions kept coming. On the first Ole Miss drive of the second half, Corral threw his fifth interception, at least this one served the same purpose as a punt as LSU took over at the Rebels’ 44.

York parlayed that giveaway into another field goal and LSU led by 16 points, 36-21.

But Ole Miss did not flounder in the rain. On the ensuing drive, the Rebels mounted a 65-yard march that culminated in a 10-yard scoring run by Parrish. A two-point try failed to leave the score 37-27.

Ole Miss continued to move the ball on its next drive. Corral and Parrish had long runs to start the possession and Corral finished the drive with a five-yard scoring strike to Drummond. Logan’s kick made it a field-goal game, 37-34.

LSU countered with another field goal by York, this one from 50 yards to put the lead back to a touchdown, 40-34 and that score held until the end of the third quarter.

To begin the last stanza, it appeared Ole Miss was ready to mount a comeback. On the first play of the fourth quarter, that LSU lead disappeared.

Corral lofted a pass into the end zone into the waiting arms of Sanders in double coverage to tie the score. Logan’s kick gave the Rebels their first lead since early in the game, this one 41-40.

LSU flashed down field quickly on the next drive to the Rebels’ 10, but Keidron Smith snuffed out the drive when he picked off Johnson in the end zone. It was Johnson’s first interception of his career.

With just under nine minutes left, it was the Rebs’ turn to go for it on fourth down, this time from the LSU two. Corral kept the ball in his own hands and ran the final yards on a bootleg. Logan nailed the kick and Ole Miss led, 48-40.

The Tigers were not done either. LSU drove on its next possession 75 yards and Johnson took it again from the one for the touchdown. The Bayou Bengals attempted to tie the game with a two-point attempt, but Johnson’s pass was broken up by Jalen Jordan to preserve the 48-46 lead.

Tigers take the lead for good

Once LSU took over again, it wasted little time. On the third play of the drive, Johnson hit Boutte on a 45-yard touchdown pass, duos’ third of the game. The kick gave LSU at 53-48 lead with only 1:34 left.

Ole Miss was driving the ball for a potential-winning score, but Corral fumbled in the torrential rain to end the threat and the game.

“This is really frustrating especially because we did come all the way back from 16 and go on a 28-6 run which was awesome. The energy on the sideline it was all great, it would have been a great story and a great to the end of the season.”

Ole Miss head coach Lane Kiffin

Rebels look ahead to bowl game

Ole Miss’ season is not over. The Rebels are expecting a bid to a bowl. Despite a 4-5 record, the team is an attractive draw. Also, a bowl bid will give Ole Miss additional time on the practice field that it missed in the preseason and last spring.

About The Author

Steve Barnes

Steve Barnes joins The Rebel Walk staff as a senior writer and brings a trifecta of journalistic experience. As a writer, he has covered college sports for Rivals.com, Football.com and SaturdayDownSouth.com as well as served as a beat writer for various traditional newspapers. He has been a broadcaster for arena football and several national tournament events for the National Junior College Athletic Association as well as hosting various shows on radio. A former sports information director at Albany (Ga.) State University and an assistant at Troy and West Florida, he has helped host many NCAA conference, regional and national events, including serving five years on the media committee of the NCAA Division II World Series. Barnes, a native of Pensacola, Fla., attended Ole Miss in 1983-84, where his first journalism teacher was David Kellum. The duo has come a long way since that time. He will bring a proven journalistic track record, along with a knack for finding the out-of-the-ordinary story angles to The Rebel Walk. Barnes continues to reside in Pensacola a mere ten minutes from the beach because he does have taste and a brain.

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