October 20, 2013 2:01:55 AM
OXFORD -- Ole Miss senior kicker Andrew Ritter said his game-winning, 41-yard field goal felt good off his foot. Then he watched with dread as it started drifting right. By the time it reached the uprights, it was dangerously close.
He held his breath. So did the rest of Vaught-Hemingway Stadium.
It sailed through with about a foot to spare. The crowd exploded. It was the finishing touch on Ole Miss' 27-24 upset victory over No. 6 LSU on Saturday night.
"Can you believe it?" Ritter asked.
It was a happy ending for Ole Miss (4-3, 2-3 Southeastern Conference) after the Rebels let a 17-point lead slip away when LSU's Zach Mettenberger hit Jarvis Landry for a 4-yard touchdown to tie it at 24 with 3:19 remaining.
But the Rebels responded with a methodical, 14-play drive that ended in Ritter's field goal with two seconds remaining.
"This is the biggest win of my life," Ole Miss defensive end Cameron Whigham said. "I'm just so proud to be a part of the Ole Miss family and be able to compete with my brothers each Saturday."
It capped a remarkable day of upsets across the league. LSU joined Georgia, Texas A&M, Florida and South Carolina as ranked SEC teams to lose Saturday.
It was another thrilling game for the Rebels, who lost last week against Texas A&M on a last-second field goal.
"What (the team) went through this week, with the outside world having their opinions, you can imagine how proud I am," Ole Miss coach Hugh Freeze said.
Bo Wallace was 30 of 39 for 346 yards and Jaylen Walton rushed for a career-high 105 yards and two touchdowns for the Rebels, who snapped a three-game losing streak.
Ole Miss finished with 525 total yards. LSU had 388.
LSU (6-2, 3-2) nearly pulled off the comeback, but couldn't overcome a rough game by Mettenberger, who threw three crucial interceptions.
"We didn't do some of the things that we needed to come in here and do," LSU coach Les Miles said. "I really thought we were going to throw those balls and complete them and I thought they were great calls."
The winning field goal was redemption for Ritter, who had a 29-yard attempt blocked earlier in the fourth quarter.
LSU moved the ball fairly well in the first half, especially on the ground, but Mettenberger's bad decisions and poor throws cost the Tigers dearly.
The 6-foot-5, 235-pound senior came into the game leading the SEC with 1,890 yards, 15 touchdowns and just two interceptions. But he had a brutal first half, throwing three interceptions, including two in the end zone.
All three were thrown into tight coverage. Mettenberger finished 19-of-33 passing for 274 yards and a touchdown.
While Mettenberger was struggling, Wallace started hot, completing 16 of 23 passes for 200 yards in the first half. Ritter kicked a 28-yard field goal in the first quarter to put Ole Miss ahead 3-0 and Barry Brunetti's 3-yard touchdown pass to Nick Parker gave the Rebels a 10-0 halftime lead.
The Rebels' defense was surprisingly stout. They were missing five starters, including linebacker Serderius Bryant, the team's leading tackler.
But Ole Miss used a no-name bunch to stop LSU consistently. Chief Brown, Cody Prewitt and Charles Sawyer had the three interceptions.
"I'm really not surprised at all that we won this game," Prewitt said. "I feel like it's the first time this season we played for 60 true minutes."
Ole Miss announced a crowd of 61,160, which is the ninth-largest in school history. And the place was rocking by the time Walton broke through for a 2-yard touchdown in the third quarter to give the Rebels a 17-0 lead.
But the LSU offense finally came alive in the third quarter, scoring touchdowns on short runs by Kenny Hilliard and Jeremy Hill to pull within 17-14.
Ole Miss yanked the momentum right back with a seven-play, 76-yard drive, capped by Walton's spectacular 26-yard touchdown dash through the teeth of LSU's defense.
The Rebels had a 24-14 lead and all the momentum early in the fourth quarter, but Korvic Neat dropped a punt and LSU recovered on Ole Miss 13. The defense managed to hold, but LSU's Colby Delahoussaye hit a 41-yard field goal to pull the Tigers within 24-17.
Ole Miss squandered another opportunity a few minutes later when Ritter's 29-yard field goal was blocked by Ego Ferguson.
1. Ole Miss will be ready for Memphis COLLEGE SPORTS
2. Hill, Gholar fuel Falcons' flight HIGH SCHOOL SPORTS
3. Stricklin expected to take Florida AD job today COLLEGE SPORTS
4. Alabama's running game continues to roll COLLEGE SPORTS
5. Heritage Academy excited about big win HIGH SCHOOL SPORTS