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LSU vs the Mannings 4: 2002


Despite two disappointing conference losses going into Game 11 vs the Ole Miss Rebels, LSU (7-3) still controlled its own destiny if they were to defend their SEC championship from 2001.

  • Auburn belted the Tigers 31-7 on the Plains. Then the Bengals survived a visit to Kentucky thanks to the Bluegrass Miracle.
  • Despite Coach Nick Saban's constant urging all week to "move on," the Tigers were no match for #10 Alabama in Tiger Stadium the next week. The Tide embarrassed the the home team 31-0.
  • Yet LSU, ranked #21, still led the SEC West by one game with a 4-2 conference record.
  • The Tigers had suffered a major setback when junior QB Matt Mauck suffered a season-ending injury against Florida in Game 6.
  • Sophomore Marcus Randall started the next four games, completing 41-of-81 (50.6%) with 4 INTs and only 3 TDs.
  • After scoring at least 31 points in each of Mauck's last five games as a starter, the Tigers had been held to 7 by Auburn and shut out by Bama.

The Rebels (5-5) had lost four in a row as they came to Baton Rouge for the second year in a row thanks to a change in the SEC scheduling algorithm.

  • Ole Miss needed one more win to become bowl eligible.
  • The visitors from Oxford were hoping to record their fourth straight victory in Tiger Stadium, including the 35-24 comeback win the year before.
  • Junior QB Eli Manning was having an outstanding season: 219-for-317 (69.1%) for 2,663y with 17 TDs and 11 INTs.
  • However, the Rebels had the SEC's worst ground game- just 102.3ypg.

91,603 gathered on a chilly evening to watch another humdinger between the ancient rivals.

Quarter 1

  • LSU QB Rick Clausen, making the first start of his career, had his second pass intercepted by S Von Hutchins to give Ole Miss the ball on the Tiger 40. The Rebels made a first down on the first play, a pass from Eli Manning to WR Taye Biddle for 12y. But the defense stiffened. So Jonathan Nichols booted a 36y FG. Ole Miss 3 LSU 0 (8:22)
    Later in the period, Manning completed three straight passes for 27y. But when he tried to go up top to Chris Collins, the ball landed in the hands of CB Corey Webster, who had inside position on the receiver.
    Ole Miss 3 LSU 0

L-R: Rick Clausen, Corey Webster, Marcus randall, LaBrandon Toefield, Jimbo Fisher
Quarter 2
  • With Clauson struggling (2-for-6 for 9y with 1 INT and 0 TDs), Marcus Randall relieved him. He led the Tigers deep into Ole Miss territory before RB LaBrandon Toefield fumbled the ball away on the 14.
    Manning then led a relentless drive deep into LSU territory. On 3rd-and-3 from the 20, Eli hit WR Mike Espy for a first down, but Espy broke tackles by CB Demetrius Hookfin and MLB Bradie James to continue to the end zone. Ole Miss 10 LSU 0 (1:02)
    With Offensive Coordinator Jimbo Fisher calling for the no-huddle, spread attack, the LSU offense, dormant for the whole half, roared downfield for a touchdown. Randall slipped but regained his footing and hit WR Jerel Myers on a down and out for 17y to the 41. On third-and-six, Marcus found TB Domanick Davis for 8y to the Rebel 47. Staying hot, Randall connected with WR Michael Clayton over the middle for 15, then with Davis for 13 more to the19. With time running out, Randall rolled right and fired to WR Devery Henderson in the corner of the end zone with a scant 2.3 seconds on the clock.
    Ole Miss
    10 LSU 7
    "I like the fast pace of the no-huddle," Randall said. "It kind of keeps me focused. Between the plays, you don't have such a big break, and you keep moving."
    Henderson, who caught the Bluegrass Miracle game winner two weeks earlier, broke his arm on the touchdown play and was lost for the season.

Quarter 3

  • The defenses dominated the period. The only score was set up when Travis Johnson recovered Davis's fumble on the LSU 16. When the Rebs could gain only 3y on three plays, Nichols sent a 39y field goal through the uprights. Ole Miss 13 LSU 7 (9:08)
    Ole Miss's prospects of taking a two-score lead seemed bright when they reached the eight - easily within field goal range. But then came another of the strange plays that often beset opponents in Tiger Stadium. Manning lofted a short pass to RB Tremaine Turner near the five. But Turner never saw the ball and CB Demetrius Hookfin did. The aerial bounced off the back of Turner's helmet and into the waiting hands of a trailing Hookfin who returned the ball 45y out of harm's way.
    Ole Miss 13 LSU 7
    Hookfin was one of LSU's 22 seniors playing their final home game.

Quarter 4

  • The Tigers finally cranked up a 74y, 10-play drive. Randall started by hitting Clayton for 13y to the 39. Facing fourth and one from the Ole Miss 35, Randall sneaked for 2y. Three plays later from the 27, Clayton snared a button hook pass at the 21, turned, and ran untouched to the end zone. John Corbello's PAT gave the Tigers their first lead of the evening. LSU 14 Ole Miss 13 (6:34)
    Watch a video of the touchdown ...
    "It was a whip route," explained Clayton. "I faked a slant, and when the defender slipped, I just sat down. Marcus saw me when I was wide open."
    After an exchange of punts, three completions moved the Rebels to their 48 only to have Manning underthrow Chris Collins on a deep pass. The ball landed in the hands of CB Corey Webster.
    "I saw the tailback, and I thought he was open, but I didn't see the guy behind him," Eli said afterward. "It was a bad decision for us at that point. It was a situation where we needed a field goal ... It was a bad play by me. I didn't see the guy. I should have kept going and made sure there was a guy open."
    "That's just kind of how our season's gone," lamented Coach Cutcliffe. "Whatever could possibly go wrong does go wrong." Another interception, Webster's second, sealed the victory with 1:51 left.
    The Tigers held Manning to just eight completions in 21 attempts in the second half. It was revealed after the game that Eli suffered an elbow injury in the third quarter.

LSU Postgame

  • Coach Saban on his quarterbacks: "We were going to play both of them. I think not starting took the edge off Marcus. That's the best he's played since the South Carolina game. I told him, 'All you need to do is play average.'" Nick praised the fans for the way they sent off the seniors. "It was certainly a great atmosphere out there for them to finish their careers. The crowd did a fantastic job of helping us win this game. We needed the emotion that we played with in the end to overcome a lot of adversity which Ole Miss had a lot to do with. ... We have a great bunch of seniors, guys that have been here for three years and have had a lot to do with turning the program around."
  • Marcus Randall: "I wouldn't say not starting made me more at ease, but I got to see what the defense was doing. I knew I would get my chance, and when I did, I had to take advantage."

Ole Miss Postgame

  • Coach Cutcliffe: "We made a lot of plays that allowed us to maintain the lead for a big part of the game. But give LSU credit. They made the plays when they needed to make them. They did a good job of keeping the pressure on Eli all night long. He got beat up pretty good."
  • Manning completed 19-of-38 passes for 218y. "There are fumbles and interceptions ... and it's just not making plays when we needed to. They gave us the opportunities. They turned the ball over a bunch and gave us good field position. We just didn't score enough points and do enough offensively to win the game."

Next: LSU vs Eli Manning 2003

Matt Mauck

Eli Manning

LaBrandon Toefield

Mike Espy scores the first TD of the game

Jerel Myers

Domanick Davis

Michael Clayton

Devery Henderson

Demetrius Hookfin

John Corbello

Return to Football Magazine

Tiger Den Archives – I

First LSU Football Game
One-Game Sensation
Tigers Invade Ebbets Field
Dazzling Debut: Tommy Hodson
Streak Buster: LSU vs Alabama 1993
Dazzling Debut: Cecil Collins
Tiger First: Notre Dame Game
Memorable Game: Alabama 1945
Tiger First: UAB Game

Tiger Den Archives – II

Origin of the Chinese Bandits
Leave Coach Dietzel Alone!
Six Straight TD Catches
How Addai Ended Up at LSU
LSU AD on His Coaches
Pro Football Hall of Famers
Streak Buster: UNC 1949
Streak Buster: Alabama 1982

Tiger Den Archives – III

First College Replay
Memorable Game: Tulane 1949
Profile: Robert Dugas
First Big Ten Opponent
Profile: Michael Mahtook
Memorable Game: Tulane 1965
Profile: Alvin Roy
Memorable Game: Ole Miss 1959
Interesting Story: Andre Lafleur

Tiger Den Archives – IV

Firsts: Victory, Home Victory, Winning Season
You Can't Keep a Good Man Down
First NFL Draftee
It's a Miracle!
Dazzling Debut: Alvin Dark
Dazzling Debut: Charlie McClendon
Memorable Game: Tulane 1972
Memorable Game: Tennessee 2000
Dynamic Duo

Tiger Den Archives – V

LSU Lost a Game and a Coach
The Night Big Ben Came to Tiger Stadium
Profile: Tommy Casanova
Profile: Richard Dickson
Memorable Game: Oregon 1932
Buckeyes First LA Invasion
From Braces to All-America
Memorable Game: Georgia 1935
"The Year of the Extra Point"
Brodhead Takes Over

Tiger Den Archives – VI

First Southern Team to Fly to a Game
Memorable Game: Florida State 1991
7-0 in 1973
Profile: John Ed Bradley
Super Bowl Bengals
Recruiting Tales
Memorable Game: Tulane 1937
Scoreless String
Profile: Dub Jones

Tiger Den Archives – VII

Dietzel Returns
Profile: Bert Jones
Largest Crowd in SEC History
Win One for the Bear
Profile: Ken Kavanaugh
Why Didn't He Go to Florida?
No Married Players

Tiger Den Archives – VIII

First Appearance of Mascot Mike
Faust Fever
Profile: Alvin Dark
"LSU is not a class team"
Saban's First Rematch
But Did He Beat Tulane?

Tiger Den Archives – IX

"Give Them My Regards in Baton Rouge"
"Football Is Strictly an Afternoon Game"
When Washington Came to Baton Rouge
Tigers vs Badgers I & II | Profile: Y.A. Tittle

Tiger Den Archives – X

Streak Buster: LSU @ Auburn 1970
Dazzling Debut: Coach Jerry Stovall
Profile: Leonard Fournette
Terry Bradshaw: "I know how it all got started."
Profile: Young Bussey I-VI

Tiger Den Archives – XI

Commodore Surprise
Dietzel and McClendon 1, 2
Incredible Five Quarters
First Bluegrass Miracle

Tiger Den Archives – XII

Season in Time: 2005

LSU Bowl Games

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