LSU's comeback bid falls short

No. 8 LSU put itself in too big a hole Saturday, as a late rally was too little, too late. The Tigers fell to Mississippi State, 34-29, their first loss to the Bulldogs since 1999.

The final score between No. 10 LSU and Mississippi State did not properly represent what happened in Tiger Stadium on Saturday.

The Tigers may have only lost by five — 34-29 — but it took 19 unanswered points in the fourth quarter just to bring the Tigers within a fighting chance. Despite giving up 570 yards of offense, LSU actually came within a Hail Mary of pulling off a miraculous comeback.

But Brandon Harris’ desperation heave landed in the hands of a MSU DB Will Redmond and cemented what seemed inevitable all along.

The Tigers suffered their first loss to Mississippi State since 1999, their first at home since 1991. Now LSU faces an 0-1 start to the SEC slate.

“We will look at this film and be miserable,” said LSU coach Les Miles. “There won’t be anyone smiling for a while.”

Mississippi State took a 34-10 lead early in the fourth quarter. The once filled-to-capacity Tiger Stadium emptied in a hurry, most fans leaving the Tigers for dead.

The Tigers did show a little bit of life though. Kenny Hilliard carried in a one-yard touchdown, capping off a 67-yard drive that took only 2:09 off the clock. An LSU defense that struggled all night forced a rare three-and-out, and the Tigers took over from their own five.

In came Brandon Harris, who led LSU on a 95-yard touchdown drive resulting in a 31-yard strike to Malachi Dupre. MSU handed the ball back to LSU on the next possession as a snap sailed over the head of Dak Prescott and Dwayne Thomas came up with the recovery.

The Tigers took over at the MSU 30. Two plays later, Harris found Dupre once again for a 30-yard score, cutting the deficit to five.

The ensuing onside attempt failed, but the Tiger defense forced another three-and-out. That provided LSU with 20 seconds to pull off a miracle. Harris got LSU close enough for a Hail Mary, but the comeback bid ended there.

“If we would’ve got a couple more yards and had a couple more seconds, I don’t know that we wouldn’t have won that game,” Miles said. “But maybe that’s just a coach being optimistic.”

That near comeback provided a distraction from what was nearly one of the Tigers’ most lopsided defeats in recent history.

MSU wasted little time getting ahead of an LSU defense that hadn’t surrendered a point in almost 10 full quarters. After an LSU three-and-out to start the game, the Bulldogs took their opening possession for a 51-yard touchdown drive, capped off by a nine-yard catch by De’Runnya Wilson.

MSU tacked it on two possessions later with a 98-yard scoring drive on only four plays. Prescott completed a 26-yard pass to Wilson from the four. Josh Robinson followed that with a 23-yard run, and Prescott found Wilson once more for a 44-yard touchdown.

The Bulldogs got a field goal on their next possession for a 17-0 lead less than six minutes into the second quarter.

“We just got off to the wrong start,” said DT Christian Lacouture. “We left some things on the table, and we have to come back and fix that.”

Meanwhile, the LSU offense could muster just three points in the first half. The Tigers only semblance of success came on a 44-yard halfback pass from Terrence Magee to Dupre. The Tigers eventually reached the MSU two-yard line, but four consecutive runs produced only a turnover on downs.

“We started off real slow,” said WR Travin Dural. “We weren’t on the same page for the first half. We kind of got it together in the second half, but it was too late.”

Tiger Stadium received a jolt of hope on the first play of the second half. The defense stood up Prescott on a designed run, Kwon Alexander stripped him and Danielle Hunter scooped it and reached the endzone. That cut the deficit to only seven points, but that optimism wouldn’t last long.

The Bulldogs answered with consecutive touchdown drives totaling 75 and 77 yards. The first came on a 56-yard touchdown run by Prescott, the second on a 74-yard pass on what seemed like a broken play. Jameon Lewis got behind safety Ronald Martin though and had nothing stopping him from going the distance.

One more MSU field goal put the Bulldogs up 24, which ultimately proved to be an insurmountable lead.

“It happens when you play a good team,” Miles said. “When you don’t execute when you have your chances, you finish second. That’s what we did today.”

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