- Associated Press - Sunday, October 26, 2014

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) - Leonard Fournette burst across the line of scrimmage and plowed violently into desperate Mississippi defenders, going down only after his facemask was partially ripped from his helmet.

The run by the powerful freshman capped a stunning performance against a defense that had been exceedingly hard to run on this season, and set up Anthony Jennings’ touchdown pass to tight end Logan Stokes.

Fournette finished with 113 yards, and safety Ronald Martin’s interception of Bo Wallace’s pass on the LSU 1 with 2 seconds left sealed No. 24 LSU’s 10-7 victory over third-ranked Ole Miss on Saturday night.

“This team wanted to make this night special and they did,” said LSU coach Les Miles, who led the Tigers (7-2, 3-2) out of the tunnel less than 24 hours after his 91-year-old mother, Martha, died.

In addition, the youngest of Miles’ two sons, Ben, was hospitalized Friday night for a high school football injury, reportedly a broken leg.

“The concern that I had would be condolences and an outpouring of emotions and caring for each other could not exactly be what you want to go play a very violent, physical and competitive game,” added Miles, who received the game ball from his team. “After the game I can’t tell you the number of young men that threw their arms around me and told me, ‘Love you coach.’ It is as touching as anything I have had happen.”

LSU finished with 264 yards rushing against a defense that came in allowing 97.1 per game.

Kenny Hilliard carried six times for 47 yards on LSU’s decisive drive, including a 16-yard gain in which he used his free hand to throw 6-foot-5, 243-pound defensive end Carlos Thompson down along the LSU sideline. Fournette added four carries for 35 yards, including a 22 yarder to the Mississippi 13.

“The coaching staff said they are going to put the ball in the running backs’ hands,” Fournette said. “It was our duty and our job to make it happen. They gave Kenny the ball and he did the job. They gave it to me and it was the end of the story.”

Not quite. Ole Miss drove into game-tying field goal range in the final seconds, only to come up short.

Ole Miss (7-1, 4-1 Southeastern Conference) was lining up for a 42-yard kick, but was called for delay of game. The field goal unit lined up again for a 47-yarder with 9 seconds left when LSU coach Les Miles called timeout. That’s when the Rebels decided to run a play instead and Wallace threw his first interception in a Southeastern Conference game this season.

Coach Hugh Freeze said he called for a safer throw to the sideline to set up a possible tying field goal.

“I thought we were plenty clear we were either going to take the flat throw or throw it out of bounds, and then try the field goal,” Freeze said. “He must have felt like he had a shot at the touchdown play there. … I wish I could do that over, for sure.”

Soon after, a sizeable portion of the record-tying Tiger Stadium crowd of 102, 321 streamed onto the field, celebrating around - but not dismantling - the well-guarded goal posts.

Mississippi 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.

“This league is brutal,” Freeze said, adding the LSU has “the best offensive line we’ve played and the running backs are very, very good. And, defensively, they’re coming into their own.”

The Tigers largely stifled the Rebels’ offense, which was averaging 35.4 points.

Wallace was 14 of 33 for 176 yards, including his 15-yard touchdown 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 just 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.

Copyright © 2018 The Washington Times, LLC.

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