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Ole Miss pulls upset against LSU

The SportsXchange

OXFORD, Miss. -- On a topsy-turvy day in the SEC, Ole Miss certainly didn't want to be left out.

No. 6 LSU would have just as soon stayed out of the fray.

Turns out the Rebels got their wish and the Tigers didn't Saturday night at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium.

Andrew Ritter's 41-yard field goal with two seconds left sailed through the uprights to give reeling and injury-ravaged Ole Miss a stunning 27-24 victory over LSU.

That was the final salvo in a game when the Rebels (4-3 overall, 2-3 SEC) bolted to a 17-0 lead but coughed it back up when the Tigers (6-2, 3-2) forged a 24-24 tie with 3:19 to go.

Ole Miss quarterback Bo Wallace put the finishing touches on a spectacular 346-yard passing night by engineering the final drive as the Rebels in all likelihood extinguished LSU's aspirations of an SEC championship.

Wallace's outburst was part of a 525-yard night by the Ole Miss offense, the most the Tigers have surrendered since a Cam Newton-led Auburn team hammered them for 526 yards in 2010.

LSU finally found some offensive success in the second half, with Zach Mettenberger connecting on several downfield throws on the way to a 274-yard night. But the Tigers couldn't overcome a three-interception first half or an inexplicable abandonment of the running game when it appeared Jeremy Hill and Kenny Hilliard were too much for the Rebels to handle.

"I did a poor job on preparing this football team for playing this game," Tigers coach Les Miles said. "We gave them too many turnovers (and were) not patient enough handing the football off to run the football, and that's my fault being impatient. Our football team will get better. This one is on me. I take it."

Despite a first-half malaise, LSU climbed back into the game with two third-quarter touchdowns -- Hilliard's 1-yard run and Hill's 3-yard burst.

An Ole Miss botched punt set up Colby Delahoussaye for a 41-yard field goal, and Ego Ferguson blocked Ritter's kick that could have salted the game away.

The Tigers responded with an 80-yard drive, during which Zach Mettenberger resembled the quarterback who had carved a niche as one of the best signal-callers in the country in the first seven weeks of the season.

Mettenberger completed five passes for 68 yards, capping the drive with a 4-yard flip to Jarvis Landry to even the score at 24 with 3:19 to go.

But Ole Miss didn't flinch. Wallace came out and calmly led the Rebels down the field, twice converting third downs -- one on a 6-yard run when he needed every inch -- and milking the clock along the way.

Ritter trotted onto the field with six seconds on the clock and boomed his second kick of the night through with plenty to spare.

There was still time for a kickoff and several laterals, but that ended with very little drama.

"It's pretty crazy in (the locker room) right now," Ole Miss coach Hugh Freeze said. "It's great to beat one of your biggest rivals. ... I'm happy for Andrew Ritter. To be asked to redshirt his senior year and then come back. That kick will make memories of a lifetime for him."

A week after an impressive clamp-down performance against Florida, LSU's defense was lethargic and out of sync against Ole Miss, especially in the first half.

It didn't help that Mettenberger threw three interceptions in the first 30 minutes -- two in the end zone -- and one of the most prolific offenses in the SEC managed only 178 total yards against a Rebels defense in tatters because of injuries.

Meanwhile, Ole Miss plowed to a 10-0 lead by peppering the LSU defense for 234 yards, most of that on two drives that gobbled up 152 yards and 10:43 of clock and yielded the only points of the half.

Wallace dissected the LSU defense, hitting 16-of-23 passes for 200 first-half yards, with 71 coming on a 69-yard drive to a field goal in the second quarter.

The Tigers gouged Ole Miss at times on the ground, alternating between Hill and Hilliard for the most part. Hilliard ran for 44 yards and Hill 38 against a Rebels defense missing six starters.

But LSU never dented the scoreboard, in large part because Mettenberger suffered through a third consecutive lackluster half. He connected on 7-of-11 passes -- only one true incompletion -- but overthrew Odell Beckham on all three picks.

The first interception snuffed out a promising drive when Chief Brown closed in on a double team and snared a ball intended for Beckham on a deep post route.

After falling behind 10-0 on Barry Brunetti's 3-yard pass to Nicholas Parker, LSU was driving and got to the Ole Miss 20. But Cody Prewitt picked off a ball headed toward Beckham near the back of the end zone.

Moments later, as the Tigers tried to get their offense revving to close out the half, Charles Sawyer hauled in a ball that sailed over Beckham's head on another deep post pass.

Ritter got Ole Miss on the board with a 28-yard field goal late in the first quarter to cap a series that used 17 plays. The Rebels -- Wallace in particular -- methodically pecked away at the Tigers with short passes and converted three third downs in a row before stalling from the 5-yard-line.

NOTES: LSU and Ole Miss were playing on the earliest calendar date since squaring off Oct. 3, 1999. ... The three interceptions in the first half surpasses Mettenberger's season total of two picks in 174 attempts coming in. ... With 185 all-purpose yards, Beckham passed former Tigers greats Dalton Hilliard, Patrick Peterson and Kevin Faulk for sixth place on LSU's season chart. Beckham has 1,649 yards this year.

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