Jackson‘s clutch field goals give LSU edge

LSU football tradition has a long history of disappointing field goal kickers.

For years, Tiger Stadium would hold its collective breaths during any field goal attempt. In other words, there were no guarantees.

 

But LSU place kicker Chris Jackson has bucked the trend and emerged as a key offensive weapon. His late fourth quarter field goal knotted the score at 17 and gave Tiger fans their second overtime game in Death Valley this season. After a failed opening drive in the extra frame, Jackson again responded with a lead grabbing field goal to give the Tigers the eventual victory.

 

"I was glad to see Jackson come in and kick the winner," said head coach Les Miles. "I wanted overtime because it is our stadium and I thought we were going to win."

 

Jackson scored the final six points for LSU in the contest.

 

Miles confidence in his team's ability to win was not as evident earlier in the game. After a Skyler Green punt return for touchdown, the Tiger offense stayed in first gear. They were unable to move the ball and punted three times and had one missed field goal at halftime.

 

But in LSU's third drive in the second half, Jamarcus Russell connected with Dwayne Bowe for an 18 yard touchdown pass. This gave the Tigers a 14-10 lead.

 

From there, it was all legs.

 

"It feels great," said Jackson. "It was one of those SEC type games that we always have against Auburn. It is always a battle."

 

A fourth quarter touchdown completion to Anthony Mix gave Auburn a three point lead.

 

With 4:47 seconds remaining in regulation, LSU began their drive. Starting on their own 25 yard line, they marched down the field on the strength of Joseph Addai carries and two Bowe catches, one for 31 yards. With a little less that two minutes to play, it was fourth and five from the Auburn 27.

 

Jackson came on to attempt a 44 yard field goal and nailed it.

 

"I was just trying to stay focused and wipe the slate clean from my miss earlier," said Jackson. "I was just hoping to go out there and do my best."

 

He atoned for the earlier miss and collected a legion of new fans as his game tying field goal breathed new life into a stagnant team and stadium.

 

Even thought the crowd was behind him, the players were still giving him a hard time.

 

"I was looking for chest bumps," said Jackson. "But, I did not get any. They just told me to go kickoff."

 

The new insurgence carried the team into overtime where LSU had possession first. The Tigers were on the 13 yard line when Early Doucet dropped a touchdown pass. The gasps were palpable, but the unassuming Jackson trotted onto the field, and positioned himself for the go-ahead. His 30 yard kick split the uprights and gave LSU the lead. A John Vaughn miss in Auburn' possession sealed the victory for the home Tigers.

 

"I was trying to block the crowd out and block everything else and just worry about keeping it straight." said Jackson. "The fans are insane."

 

What makes Jackson's performance even more impressive is the comparison between him and Auburn kicker John Vaughn. At the beginning of the second quarter, Vaughn got Auburn on the board with a 26 yard field goal. After that, he managed to miss five straight field goal attempts. Jackson, a member of that elite kicking fraternity, knows the feeling.

 

"Sometimes, it just happens," said Jackson. "He knows he is a great kicker, and I know that he wanted to come back and keep trying."

 

The players might have been giving Jackson the usual kicker treatment after his game tying field goal. But in post game, they recognized his importance.

 

"You can't say enough about Chris Jackson," said Kyle Williams. "He has done a fabulous job for use this year."

 

Jackson also plays baseball and is normally positioned at the hot corner at third base. So going out there in a pressurized situation was commonplace. When asked how to compare the feeling, he said- "it is kind of like two outs in the bottom of the ninth."

 

If only he could figure out how to get on the bottom of team pileups on the football field.


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