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Top-ranked Tigers trounce Rebels 52-3 on Senior Night

Petre Thomas/The Daily Mississippian

In a game that looked to be a huge mismatch in favor of LSU, the top-ranked Tigers (11-0, 7-0 SEC) dominated the Ole Miss Rebels (2-9, 0-7 SEC) from start to finish. The final count was 52-3, the largest margin of victory in the 100-year history of the Ole Miss-LSU rivalry and the Rebels’ worst loss since the 1974 season.

“They are a really good football team,” head coach Houston Nutt said. “But we helped them. We have to get ready for that last one (against Mississippi State). That’s the bottom line.” 

 

Unlike games earlier this season that got of hand late, this one was never close. On just the third play of the game, LSU senior defensive back Ron Brooks intercepted junior quarterback Zack Stoudt and returned the ball 46 yards for a touchdown, the first of two defensive touchdowns for the Tigers.

“You can’t start the game the way we started it, especially playing a team like that – the number one team in the nation.” Nutt said. “We can’t give them gifts. One thing we didn’t want to do is turn the ball over, especially then so they can get seven points right off the bat. That’s the worst thing that can happen.”

LSU extended its lead to 14-0 on their first offensive possession of the game when freshman running back Kenny Hilliard scored on a one-yard touchdown run to cap a nine-play, 86-yard drive.

On the next Ole Miss possession, Brooks sacked Stoudt and recovered his own forced fumbled at the Rebels’ 26-yard line. Two plays later, senior quarterback Jordan Jefferson, who was a perfect 7-for-7 passing for 88 yards, threw a 22-yard strike to junior wide receiver Russell Shepard to give LSU a 21-0 first quarter lead.

And that first quarter tells the tale of the remaining three quarters.

Early in the second quarter, sophomore quarterback Barry Brunetti fumbled a reverse handoff to sophomore wide receiver Philander Moore, and LSU sophomore linebacker Kevin Minter recovered the ball in the end zone for the Tigers’ second defensive touchdown.

LSU sophomore running back Spencer Ware got in on the action as he found a hole in the Rebels’ 8-man front and ran untouched for a 35-yard touchdown run to cap an 11-play, 95-yard drive to take the lead out to 35-0. 

Just before the half, Brunetti scrambled 47 yards through the LSU defense to set up a 39-yard field goal from junior Bryson Rose to put the Rebels on the board. In relief of Stoudt, Brunetti completed 5 of 10 passes for 30 yards, to go along with a team-leading 74 rushing yards on 15 carries.

“I just had to come in and help give the team a spark,” Brunetti said. “Our offensive line did a great job blocking when I came in, and our receivers did a great job, as well as our backs running the ball.”

On the second play of the second half, sophomore running back Alfred Blue took an option pitch and ran 57 yards down the sideline before being tackled from behind. Sophomore running back Michael Ford finished the drive when he took an option pitch of his own and ran for a 19-yard touchdown run.

The Tigers tacked on another score, when senior fullback James Stampley barreled in for a one-yard touchdown run on fourth-and-goal after running into senior quarterback Jarrett Lee on the handoff. Freshman running back Terrence McGee broke a 35-yard run up the middle to set up a 29-yard field goal from junior Drew Alleman to make it 52-3.

It was one of only four drives LSU didn’t score a touchdown in the game. The Tigers outgained the Rebels 458-195, including 353-148 on the ground. For LSU, nine different players carried the ball, five different players with at least 50 yards rushing and four different players found the end zone, while Jefferson and Lee were a perfect 8-for-8 passing for 105 yards and a touchdown. 

After LSU sophomore Zach Mettenberger was stopped just short of the end zone after a 25-yard bootleg run, head coach Les Miles called off the dogs and the Tigers took four consecutive knees with five minutes left on the clocks to turn the ball over on downs.

"That's the first time that's happened to me," Nutt said. "Les was just trying to be nice right there and I appreciate it. It doesn't make you feel good either way. Les is a good man. He understands."

Looking ahead to Saturday’s game at Mississippi State, Brunetti will get the starting nod at quarterback. It will also be Nutt’s last game as the Rebels’ head coach. At stake, of course, is the Egg Bowl, as well as bowl eligibility for the Bulldogs. Since a 45-0 win over Mississippi State (5-6, 1-6 SEC) in 2008, Ole Miss has lost back-to-back Egg Bowls, including a 31-23 loss this past season.

“You always want to come out at the end with a win, so we have to get back to the drawing board and correct some things and try to get the win,” defensive end Kentrell Lockett said. That’s the battle. It’s the only thing we have to play for, and we have to win. We have to leave something for next year, leave something for the younger guys.”

 

CUT: Sophomore Barry Brunetti rushes for 47 yards in the second quarter to help set up a junior Bryson Rose field goal before half time. Brunetti replaced junior Zack Stoudt at quarterback late in the first quarter. Brunetti had 15 carries for 74 along with  5 completions for 30 yards. The Rebels fall to 2-9 (0-7) with the 52-3 loss to LSU.