OXFORD, Miss. (WCBI Sports/Ole Miss Athletics) – The last time the Ole Miss football team defeated a top-10 ranked opponent its highly touted freshman class was in the midst of its freshman year in high school, and head coach Hugh Freeze was leading the now defunct Lambuth University football program.
Four years later, facing the same school it did Nov. 21, 2009, Ole Miss defeated No. 6 LSU 27-24 on a 41-yard field goal by senior kicker Andrew Ritter with two seconds left on the clock.
Playing in front of 61,160 fans, the ninth largest crowd in program history, the Ole Miss defense logged three interceptions, and sophomore running back Jaylen Walton rushed for a career-high 105 yards and a career-high two touchdowns. Ole Miss junior quarterback Bo Wallace went 30-39 for 346 yards, and junior wide receiver Donte Moncrief had five catches for 105 yards.
The win over No. 6 LSU (6-2, 3-2 Southeastern Conference) was the highest ranked opponent Ole Miss (4-3, 2-3 SEC) has defeated since 2008, when the Rebels topped No. 4 Florida.
After an interception in Ole Miss’ own end zone by sophomore cornerback Chief Brown, Ole Miss fed off the momentum to drive 69 yards on 17 plays to set up a 28-yard field goal from Andrew Ritter to give the Rebels a 3-0 lead with 1:23 remaining in the first quarter.
The Rebels pushed their lead to 10-0 with 12:14 remaining in the first half when senior quarterback Barry Brunetti rolled out of the pocket and found junior tight end Nicholas Parker in the front-right corner of the endzone. The touchdown reception was the first catch of Parker’s career at Ole Miss.
The Rebels’ defense again stepped up under pressure with 7:36 remaining in the first half and LSU driving down to the Ole Miss 20-yard line. Junior safety Cody Prewitt, who entered the game with three interceptions this season, picked off LSU quarterback Zach Mettenberger in the end zone to keep the Tigers off the board.
Senior cornerback Charles then picked off Mettenberger on the Tigers’ next drive at the Rebels’ 11-yard line. Sawyer was just behind LSU wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. on the play and made an acrobatic grab to secure Mettenberger’s third interception of the opening half.
The Rebels led 10-0 at the half, marking the first time LSU had been shutout in the opening half since the 2011-12 national championship game against Alabama. Ole Miss tallied its most interceptions in a game (3) since picking off three passes against Tulane last season.
Ole Miss capped off a picturesque opening drive to the second half with a 2-yard touchdown plunge by sophomore running back Jaylen Walton that gave the Rebels’ a 17-0 lead.
LSU finally got on the board with 6:16 remaining in the third quarter thanks to a 1-yard dive from Kenny Hilliard up the middle.
After an Ole Miss fumble at the LSU 49-yard line, the Tigers cut the Rebels’ lead to three points with an eight-play drive punctuated by a 3-yard run up the middle by sophomore running back Jeremy Hill with 3:09 remaining in the third quarter.
Ole Miss responded on the ensuing drive with a 26-yard touchdown run up the middle by Walton to cap off the seven-play, 76-yard drive. Walton’s impressive 26-yard rush up the middle was the longest of his career.
LSU recovered a muffed punt return by Ole Miss at the Rebels’ 13-yard line, but the Ole Miss defense again proved its strength and pushed the Tigers back 10 yards and held them to a 41-yard field goal.
After blocking a 29-yard field goal attempt by Ole Miss with 6:29 remaining in the game, LSU used 11 plays to drive 80 yards and tie the game at 24 on a 4-yard pass from Mettenberger to junior wide receiver Jarvis Landry.
Ritter responded on the Rebels’ final drive of the game with a 41-yard field goal with two seconds remaining on the clock to give Ole Miss the victory.