Jeremy Hill scored his third touchdown with 15 seconds left to lift the Tigers to a 41-35 victory over relentless but mistake-prone Mississippi on Saturday in a classic encounter between the rivals.
The game included seven turnovers, numerous momentum swings and long touchdowns, perhaps none better than Odell Beckham Jr.’s 89-yard punt return for a score that evoked memories of Cannon’s famous return against the same team, along the same sideline, for the same yardage back in 1959.
Beckham’s return tied the game at 35, but LSU (9-2, 5-2 Southeastern Conference) still needed a pair of clutch sacks by Anthony Johnson and Lavar Edwards to drive Ole Miss (5-6, 2-5) out of routine field goal range later in the fourth quarter. Bryson Rose then pushed a 53-yard kick wide right, setting up the winning drive.
Ole Miss quarterback Bo Wallace passed for 310 yards and two TDs and ran for two scores, but also was intercepted three times. His touchdowns went Donte Moncrief, the first for 56 yards and the second for 30. Wallace’s first score came on a 58-yard run.
Zach Mettenberger completed 22 of 37 passes for 282 yards and was intercepted twice. Hill finished with 77 yards rushing, including a 27 yard run for his first TD. Spencer Ware had LSU’s other touchdown on a leap over the pile on fourth-and-goal from the 1.
The Ole Miss turnovers gave LSU multiple opportunities to seize control, but the Tigers had three drives stall inside the Mississippi 10. Two of them ended with field goals and another with Senquez Golson’s interception in the end zone, a play that allowed the Rebels to cling to a 21-20 lead in the third quarter.
Mississippi then widened its lead to 28-20 on a drive set up by Golson’s second interception of Mettenberger. Wallace and Ja-Mes Logan connected on a fourth-and-3 play for the second time in the game to extend a scoring drive. This one was capped by Randall Mackey’s 6-yard scoring run.
LSU rallied to tie it on Hill’s 1-yard touchdown run around the left side and a 2-point conversion on Mettenberger’s pass to Ware, but the Rebels marched right back down the field in 28 seconds to regain the lead, 35-28, on Wallace’s pass to Moncrief along the left sideline.
That, however, would be the final points for a Mississippi team that is one win from bowl eligibility and made it clear early on it was not going to lay down against an LSU team favored by more than two touchdowns.
Ole Miss struck first, in fact, when defensive end Barkevious Mingo bit on a fake handoff and Wallace kept the ball, scampering for his 58-yard score.
It was a career-long run for Wallace, and his seventh rushing touchdown this season. It was also the longest running play allowed by LSU this season.
Oddly, the play seemed to rouse LSU from a slumber. After gaining 1 yard on their first two drives combined, the Tigers tied the game with a 75-yard drive on only two plays. First came a 48-yard completion to James Wright, who made a diving catch. Then Hill burst through the line for his 27-yard score.
The Tigers missed an opportunity to take the lead when Drew Alleman missed a 48-yard field goal attempt, then Ole Miss went back ahead on another big play when Wallace hit Moncrief as he cut inside of LSU’s top cornerback, Tharold Simon. Simon whiffed on a diving tackle attempt as Moncrief sped away.
That lead evaporated in a spate of Ole Miss turnovers.
Korvic Neat fumbled a punt that the Tigers’ Deion Jones recovered on the Ole Miss 18, and LSU made it 14-10 on Alleman’s short field goal.
Soon after, Jalen Collins intercepted a tipped pass in Ole Miss territory. Ware then gained 12 yards on a reception and strung together runs of 14 and 7 yards to get LSU to the 1. After the next two plays fizzled, Ware put LSU ahead 17-14.
At that point, LSU was in position to take control, but the Rebels had other ideas.
Wallace converted a fourth-and-3 with a 20-yard pass to Logan, then hit Logan again for 25 yards before keeping the ball for his second rushing TD of the game from the 1. That gave the Rebels a 21-17 lead at halftime.