LSU battles for SEC supremacy - tops Dawgs 17-10

Again Corey Webster was clutch when his team needed him. <br><br> Like in a 14-13 win over Ole Miss a year, Webster's last second interception halted a potential game winning drive by Georgia as the Tigers upset the 7th-ranked Bulldogs 17-10.<br><br> It was Eli Manning's pass in 2002, this time it was Heisman hopeful David Greene whose pass inevitably ended up in the arms of the all-SEC cornerback.

Paired up on Georgia's Reggie Brown, Webster utilized excellent positioning then tipped the ball to himself for the game-clinching pick. In the aftermath, a Tiger Stadium record crowd of 92,251 shook Death Valley to its roots in a rowdy celebration.


"Well, you know, basically the defense helped put pressure on the quarterback," Webster said. "It makes it easier when the front seven puts pressure on the quarterback. I just happened to be in the right place at the right time."


While Wesbter's interception ended Georgia's desperation surge to the end zone, it was Skyler Green's 34-yard touchdown catch from quarterback Matt Mauck that put LSU in front for good. The reception, which was the result of a broken play, came just six plays after the Bulldogs had tied the score at 10 with a 93-yard Tyson Browning touchdown catch and run.


"Well you can't really say about enough about both football teams the way they competed out there," LSU head coach Nick Saban said. "(It was) a heavy weight fight - a real street fight. Both teams competed their heart out.

It was about a physical a football game as I've seen in a long time and I'm proud of the way our players competed in the game.


The win for LSU was the first over a top 10 team since the Tigers trampled No. 7 Illinois in the 2002 Nokia Sugar Bowl. For Georgia, it was first loss on an opponent's field in 10 trips and the first road loss by a Mark Richt coached team.


"I have to first of all give a lot of credit to coach (Nick) Saban and LSU. I thought those guys had a great plan without question and had the athletes to pull it off," Richt said. "In the final analysis, big games like this usually comes down to whose going to make the most plays and they did that."


The Tigers definitely made the plays when they had to.


LSU picked up just two first downs in the first quarter and did not record their third until a 6-play, 85-yard touchdown drive with 3:10 remaining in the first half.


"I don't know if we were a little bit anxious in the beginning of the game," Saban said. "We were a little out of sorts at the start then in the second quarter we started to come around."


Georgia outgained the Tigers 225-143 in total yards in the first half. Despite LSU's offensive woes in the opening two quarters, Shyrone Carey's 21-yard touchdown run late in the second quarter was good enough for a 7-3 halftime advantage.


"I think their defense did a lot of different things that made it difficult for us to have success but I think a lot of the times, I think myself I was trying too hard to make some plays," Mauck said. "I realized that if I could just relax then maybe we get some touchdowns."


A fumble and three missed field goals in the first half left Georgia frustrated after two quarters in which the Bulldogs dominated. The usually automatic Billy Bennett missed field goals of 43, 42 and watched as his 36-yard offering hit the left upright with just seconds left in the first half.


"We certainly didn't execute as well as I would have liked us to execute," Richt said. "The problem was that it just came down to us not making the plays that they made."


Those nine points could have made a world of difference in the outcome of the game.


LSU defensive tackle Chad Lavalais drags Georgia backup

quarterback D.J. Shockley to the ground when the entered

the game for injured David Greene in the third quarter. (LSU)


"They missed three field goals, you know, that's nine points right there," LSU defensive tackle Chad Lavalais said. "That could have helped them as the game went on. But we were just lining up and thinking that we should just get after them, you know maybe we could just block a kick, put pressure on the kicks, you know, affect the kicks in some way."


A frenzied Tiger Stadium crowd seemed to energize a Tiger defense that seemed to take command of the contest in the second half. The momentum started to swing in LSU's favor in the third quarter as the Tiger defense reduced Georgia's high powered assault to just 35 yards and sent Greene to the bench with a knee injury.


"I want to say thank you to the fans because it was such a lift for us," LSU defensive end Marcus Spears said. "We could feel the vibrations running through our bodies when they started hollering. We couldn't hear anything. We couldn't even get our defensive calls out there, so I know they had a problem with running their offense. It was just a great showing for us, and we thank them a lot."


In a game dominated by defense, which featured several shifts in momentum, the fourth quarter featured a flurry of offensive yards culminating in a toe-to-toe street fight.


It looked as LSU could put the game on ice when Mauck fumbled at the Georgia 15 giving the Bulldogs new life. Two plays later, Georgia tied the score on Browning's winding touchdown catch and run.


"Our offense had not been clicking all night, but finally we made a big play," Browning said. "I thought that our defense had played a great game all day."


But LSU's offense countered Georgia's 1-2 punch with an upper cut to the chin. Devery Henderson returned the ensuing kickoff 48 yards to the 50-yard line setting up Mauck's game-winning touchdown pass to Green in the end zone.


"He (Green) had some drops earlier, I had some fumbles, but we just connected at the end so I guess it was a little bit of a makeup for both of us for early in the game," Mauck said.


On a play designed to go to Michael Clayton, Green ran the wrong route but broke into the clear. Mauck, fighting off a blitz, heaved a perfectly placed ball off his back foot across his body, which Green cradled in his arms for the game-clinching touchdown catch.


""I was looking at Matt (Mauck) and Matt came up to the line of scrimmage like he was going to run and he bit for it," Green said. "When he bit back I just looked at Matt the whole way and just laid it up there."


Green had a case of the drops earlier in the game, bobbling three sure receptions in the first half.


"I came over a lot of adversity in this game, dropped a couple of passes, couldn't give up," Green said. "The team needed a big play, so we had to come through, we had to get over a lot of things. The dropped passes I had at the beginning, I had to get over that and come through just this one time and make a play."


Both teams moved the ball well in their first offensive possessions but were stopped just out of field goal range.

Georgia's Damien Gary, one of the best kick-returners in the country, set up the opening scoring drive of the game with a 19-yard punt return putting the Bulldogs in Tiger territory. Gary hauled in a 13-yard pass three plays later to set up a 33-yard Bennett field goal with 6:20 left to play in the first quarter.


The Bulldogs appeared primed for another score after intercepting a Mauck pass at the LSU 40-yard line. Georgia drove the ball easily on the ground Greene fumbled at the LSU eight-yard line on the fourth play of the drive after being chased out of the pocket.


Mauck finished the game with 14-of-29 passes complete for 180 yards a touchdown and an interception. Greene countered with 20-of-44 passes complete for 314 yards one touchdown and two interceptions.


Tigers couldn't capitalize on the Georgia gaff and punted the ball away after just three plays later setting up another Bulldog drive in LSU territory. The drive ended with Bennett seemingly connecting on his second field goal of the quarter but offsetting penalties nullified the down. The second attempt sailed wide right and the quarter ended with the Bulldogs leading, 3-0.


Georgia stayed in LSU territory for its first drive of the second quarter after the Tigers failed again to move the ball on offense. Again, Bennett was called upon as the drive stalled at the LSU 25, and again he missed wide right leaving the score at 3-0 with 11:25 left in the first half.


The Tigers anemic first-half offense finally received an infusion late in the second quarter as Mauck led his team down the heart of the Georgia defense with the help of Green and Carey. Mauck connected with Green for a 31-yard pass down the middle of the field on the fourth play of the drive and Carey capped the drive with a 21-yard touchdown run giving the Tigers their first score. The PAT made it 7-3 Tigers with 3:10 to play in the first half.


Carey finished the contest with 73 yards on the ground on 18 carries and the touchdown. Green ended the game with 78 receiving yards on four catches and his game-winning touchdown.


The Tiger drive awakened the Bulldog offense as well as Green connected on five out of eight passes setting up another Bennett field goal attempt. But Bennett failed for the third time in the first half, this time hitting the left upright from 36 yards out.


LSU stopped the Bulldogs short of the 50-yard line on the first drive of the second half and used the momentum from the end of the first half to go on a 10-play, 51-yard drive culminating in a 47-yard Ryan Gaudet field goal. Gaudet's career-long effort gave the Tigers a 10-7 lead with 6:23 left in the third.


On the ensuing drive the Tiger defense knocked Greene out of the game on a near sack and then knocked the Bulldogs back to their 2-yard line when back-up quarterback D.J. Shockley was called for intentional grounding on third down.


The LSU offense took over at the Georgia 49 but was stopped after three plays. Shockley felt the LSU wrath again as he was sacked by tackle Chad Lavalais on the first play of the next drive for a loss of eight yards forcing the Bulldogs to again punt from their own endzone.


LSU punted the ball back to Georgia with Greene back at quarterback but the Bulldog starting signal caller turned it back to the Tigers when linebacker Lionel Turner picked off a deflected pass at the Bulldog 40. Turner's pick broke Greene's streak of 176 consecutive pass attempts without an interception, tying a Georgia record.


The Tigers failed to convert on their chance to extend the lead however, as a 48-yard field goal attempt by Gaudet was blocked.


Georgia attempted a fake punt at mid-field after its next drive stalled but the Tigers dragged upback Joe Tereshinski off his feet one yard shy of the first down marker. LSU drove the ball down to the Georgia 15-yard line but Mauck took his turn to turn over the ball, fumbling after picking up a first down on a quarterback draw.


- LSU Sports Information contributed to this report

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