LSU Pivotal Football Moments
pivotal college football moment: A decision by a coach or athletic director that changes the momentum of a program or an action by a player that changes the momentum of a game.
1995 Auburn: Twilley Saves the Magic
When Gerry DiNardo became LSU Head Coach in 1995 after Tiger fans had suffered through six seasons without a bowl game, he enunciated the main goal of his staff. "It's my responsibility and our responsibility to bring the magic back to Tiger Stadium."
DiNardo executed part of his plan during the summer when he lobbied the NCAA to change its 12-year-old rule requiring the home team to wear the dark jerseys for each game. The rules committee agreed to amend the rule to say home teams may wear white if the visiting team agrees to wear its dark color jerseys.
The Tigers began the season with two road games, losing to Texas A&M 33-17 and beating Mississippi State 34-16. That cleared the decks for DiNardo's first home game.
Preparing for #5 Auburn brought back unhappy memories to the LSU players who had made the trip to The Plains the year before - and to senior QB Jamie Howard in particular. The visiting Tigers led 23-9 early in the fourth quarter. Then Auburn's defense scored touchdowns on an NCAA-record three pick sixes off Howard to win 30-26.
80,559, the second largest crowd in Tiger Stadium history to that point - plus 1500 stu­dents watching on large screens in the Maravich Assembly Center - saw a low-scoring game that wasn't decided until the last play.
Howard turned in a solid effort: 19 of 30 for 220y with one touchdown and one inter­ception. The fired-up Bengal Tigers forged a 12-3 lead in the first quarter. Included was a safety that occurred when Auburn QB Patrick Nix, standing in his end zone in the first quarter, thought he heard a whistle and stopped, allowing LSU to sack him. Auburn man­aged a field goal in the third period to cut the lead to 12-6.

Jamie Howard tries to escape an Auburn tackler.
That remained the score when Terry Bowden's club started its final drive at its 26 with 2:19 remaining. QB Patrick Nix drove his Tigers to LSU's 28 with a 13y completion to Tyrone Goodson on 4th-and-six. You couldn't blame LSU fans, fatalistic after six losing seasons, for wondering, "Here we go again." After sandwiching completions of 10 and 7y around an incompletion to put the ball on the 11, Nix grounded a third-down pass to stop the clock with four seconds left. The outcome would come down to a final pass into the end zone.
The play called for Goodson to go down and out to the right back corner of the end zone. LCB Troy Twillie, a sophomore from Slidell, had broken up a pass on the same pattern four plays earlier.
With everyone in the stadium on their feet holding their breath, Nix lofted the ball toward Goodson. But Twillie leaped high in front of the receiver and intercepted the pass as time ran out. The Tigers were 2-1 for the first time since 1990!
L: Troy Twillie intercepts the pass on the last play of the game.
R: Jamie is carried off the field by his teammates.
The Tigers carried Howard off the field. The senior quarterback was ecstatic. "This is the step that we've been needing each year. We learned how to win the big game. It's contagious, and maybe the magic will be back."
Howard had considered quitting LSU after the 1994 season to pursue a pro baseball career. With the coaching change, he decided to concentrate on football during the spring. Months after the season ended, Howard recalled being carried off the field after the Auburn game. "I didn't realize what it meant to me until now. I started to cry. I couldn't take it."
Still clutching the game ball during the postgame interviews, Twillie compared his two pass breakups in the last minute. "The first one I just tipped away. I knew I had to get that last one. When the ball was thrown in the air, I just said I was going to get it."
DiNardo: "I thought that our kids showed tremendous character at the end. Our defense at the end was fabulous." He added: "How could you write a script better than that to win at home on the last play?"
The Tigers jumped into the AP poll at #18. Incredibly, it was the first time they had been in the Top 25 since the third week of the 1989 season.
The '95 LSU Tigers finished 6-4-1 to end their bowl drought. They defeated Nick Saban's Michigan State Spartans in the Independence Bowl 45-26.