Doucet has career game in 4th quarter

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. - It wasn't nice. It wasn't pretty.

It probably wasn't even their best road game of the season. But on Saturday evening in front of 106,333 fans in Knoxville, No. 13 LSU (7-2, 3-2 SEC) produced enough to defeat No. 9 Tennessee (7-1, 3-2 SEC), 28-24.


The Tigers walked away from Rocky Top with their biggest and only road win of the season, but they never could have done it without the trusted hands of Early Doucet. The junior receiver from St. Martinville had a career game against the Volunteers and did so in one of the toughest college football settings in the country.


Doucet shined throughout the evening, but his heroics didn't mount until the Tigers found themselves driving down the field from their own 20-yard line down 24-21 with 7:23 to go. During the final drive of the game, Doucet grabbed five catches for 40 yards including a 1-yard run, a fourth-down reception for 8 yards and the game-winning touchdown with nine seconds left.


"JaMarcus (Russell) threw a ball in my direction, and I made the catch," Doucet said. "It was real intense. (Russell) just said that we've got to come together, and we'll score. That was our whole objective to get six on that drive, and we made some plays, he made some plays, and we got the score."


According to Russell and senior receiver Dwayne Bowe, Doucet's game-winning catch was not intended for him, but instead intended for Bowe who stood just steps behind Doucet in the back of the endzone. Bowe said the ball was intended for him, and the play was the same game-winning play called at Alabama just a year ago.


With Doucet's fifth touchdown reception on the season, he clinched the win for LSU and revived their conference championship hopes with three contests remaining on the season. 


"Our mindset was really just to go out there and execute," Doucet said. "If you execute the plays that are called, with our offense and the players that we have on our team, I don't think there's any defense that can stop us. I thought we executed on fourth-down (earlier in the drive), and we got the play that we needed and just kept the drive going."


On the day, Doucet led Tiger receivers by finishing with eight catches for 73 yards and one touchdown. His eight receptions marked a career high single-game total, with his previous best total being five catches which he had recorded on five separate occasions. 

Doucet's big performance came on a night when LSU likely needed it the most. The Tigers were playing uncharacteristically throughout the night, both on offense and defense.


"We wanted to come out here and show everybody we are a team capable of winning on the road," Doucet said. "It was a tough atmosphere. The crowd was hostile. We had some miscues earlier, but we overcame them and came out victorious."


Junior JaMarcus Russell was off Saturday evening, throwing for 247 yards and three touchdowns. But that was his good stats. The Mobile native also threw three critical interceptions, including a pick-six for a touchdown to begin the second half down 17-7.


"Our football team has character," LSU head coach Les Miles said. "Our football team will play until the last minute, ‘til the last second. Our football team is strong and lithe."

The LSU offense was so uncharacteristic that Russell also led the team in rushing, gaining 81 yards on the ground with a career high 34-yard gain.


"Before we came out, coach Fisher told us that whatever happens, make no excuses," Russell said. "Empty your pockets. Leave your excuses at home. We just went out there and played tough no matter what the situation was."


On the other side of the ball, the defensive line played superbly against the Volunteers, but it was the Tigers year long dominating defensive backfield that was not playing up to par. LSU's defense allowed two of the three longest scoring plays of the season (37-yard pass and a 54-yard pass, but the Tigers still did not allow 250 yards of total offense--Tennessee finished at 248.


On the night LSU had four turnovers and did almost everything to give Tennessee the game.


"Four turnovers will usually win you a game, and it gave us a chance to win," Tennessee head coach Philip Fulmer said. "The kids laid it on the line, and the coaches did a great job preparing. We just didn't quite get it done."


Doucet helped the Tigers end Tennessee's five-game winning streak, but the junior still has more work ahead with home stands against Alabama and Ole Miss approaching as well as one more road trip to Little Rock to face the Razorbacks of Arkansas.


If Doucet and the usual suspects of Russell, Bowe and Craig "Buster" Davis can continue to produce wins and finish out the season, the Tigers could find themselves in Atlanta for the Southeastern Conference Championship with a little help from their SEC friends.

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