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LSU cashes in on final last-gasp chance

LSU running back Stevan Ridley crosses the goal line on a 1-yard plunge for the winning touchdown as time expires.

Associated Press

LSU running back Stevan Ridley crosses the goal line on a 1-yard plunge for the winning touchdown as time expires.

BATON ROUGE, La. — LSU made the types of mistakes that lose games and drive fans nuts.

Then one critical lapse by Tennessee in the frantic final seconds let the 12th-ranked Tigers off the hook.

LSU remained unbeaten Saturday, knocking off UT 16-14 after a Volunteers penalty for too many players on the field rescued the Tigers from a botched play as time ran out.

Stevan Ridley then bulled his way into the end zone from 1 yard, and fans who only moments earlier had begun to file out of Tiger Stadium in disgust were suddenly jumping for joy in the aisles.

"It went from a cry, to a frown, to a smile, to a realization of how you really won the game," said linebacker Kelvin Sheppard, adding that he'd called a players-only meeting for today.

LSU was confused on third and goal from the 1 and allowed the clock to run nearly to zero before a mishandled snap seemingly ended the game and sent Tennessee players streaming onto the field in jubilation.

The celebration was halted when officials ruled the Volunteers had 13 defensive players on the field at the snap.

Suddenly, LSU players were fetching helmets they'd thrown on the ground in frustration. Handshakes between opponents were cut short. LSU coach Les Miles already had tossed his headset aside, cutting him off from communication with offensive coordinator Gary Crowton, as he sought out an official on the field to see what the flag was for.

"I had to call a play because I had nobody to talk to," Miles said.

He called the right play in the end, but said that did not absolve the coaching staff or players from a mistake-filled performance.

"I don't know that we could play any sloppier. I don't know that we could have planned it any more poorly," Miles said. "We're a very talented team. I don't think we played near to our capacity. The series of downs on the back end of that game was embarrassing to me."

Meanwhile, Vols coach Derek Dooley wondered whether his team was cheated out of its rightful opportunity to substitute defensive players in response to LSU's numerous personnel changes when officials threw the flag that extended the game.

"Things happened fast and guys didn't run off the field. The ball was snapped pretty quickly, and so we lose the game," Dooley said. "The rule is, when they run guys out on the field, we have to have adequate time to run guys off."

Dooley said an appeal would probably be futile.

Outside the LSU locker room, Ridley had ice on his left arm, a result of his bruising 123 yards rushing and second-effort TD.

"That was one of the craziest games I've ever been a part of," he said. "That's a win I'll never forget."

MISSISSIPPI 42, KENTUCKY 35: Quarterback Jeremiah Masoli wasn't amazing for the host Rebels, but thanks to some help from his defense, he was opportunistic. That was good enough.

Masoli accounted for four touchdowns despite otherwise pedestrian stats. He completed 9 of 17 passes for 90 yards and three touchdowns and rushed for 43 yards and a touchdown.

"I was just playing my role — whatever the offense needed me to do at the time," Masoli said. "I think I'm capable of a lot more. We really haven't tapped into our full potential."

The Wildcats outgained the Rebels 424-301, but Ole Miss scored all three of its first-half touchdowns on drives right after Kentucky turnovers.

COLORADO 29, GEORGIA 27: Linebacker Jon Major recovered Caleb King's fumble as Georgia was setting up for the go-ahead field goal in the closing minutes as the host Buffaloes handed the Bulldogs their fourth straight loss. This is Georgia's longest skid since it lost the last four games in 1990.

Not even the spectacular return of Georgia wide receiver A.J. Green from a four-game suspension could halt the slide.

The Bulldogs had first and 10 at the Colorado 27 when B.J. Beatty got into the backfield and forced the fumble that Major smothered with 1:55 left.

Green had seven catches for 119 yards and two scores.

NO. 10 AUBURN 52, LA.-MONROE 3: Cam Newton's 94-yard touchdown pass to Emory Blake was the longest play from scrimmage in school history, highlighting a rout for the host Tigers. Newton, a transfer from Florida, completed 14 of 19 for 245 yards with three touchdowns before sitting out most of the second half for Auburn, which finally got a stress-free win after three straight close ones. The SEC's top rusher coming in, Newton didn't have a carry other than a sack.

Miss. st. 49, ALCORN ST. 16: Vick Ballard rushed for 119 yards and three touchdowns for the host Bulldogs. Mississippi State dominated its Division I-AA opponent from the start, opening with an eight-play touchdown drive. Still, Bulldogs coach Dan Mullen thought his team was a little flat after last week's emotional victory over Georgia. "We have to get a lot cleaner," he said.

No. 12 LSU 16

Tennessee 14

LSU cashes in on final last-gasp chance 10/02/10 [Last modified: Sunday, October 3, 2010 12:05am]
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