Last Modified: Saturday, September 28, 2013 9:48 PM
ATHENS, Ga. — LSU’s Les Miles, frankly, thought he had Georgia right where he wanted it.
“I thought they’d scored too early in my mind,” he said of Aaron Murray’s winning touchdown with 1:47 to play Saturday.
It wasn’t another whacky Les-ism. It sounded perfectly logical.
But on a nutty Southeastern Conference day when it was seemingly impossible to score too much or too often, the Bulldogs timed Murray’s 21-yard scoring pass to J. Scott-Wesley just right and escaped with a 44-41 victory over the sixth ranked Tigers.
“Ooooh … aagh!” a frustrated Miles said with a Miles phrase that just about summed up the day for the Tigers, who did in fact score way too early themselves when Jeremy Hill waltzed in from 8 yards out for a 41-37 LSU lead with 4:14 to play.
“I figured we had enough time, plenty of time,” Miles said of the last-gasp effort for yet another march down the field.
Instead, after LSU quarterback Zach Mettenberger completed an 18-yard pass to Odell Beckham, the Georgia defense forced four consecutive incompletions.
“In the moment of truth, we took care of business,” Georgia coach Mark Richt said. “That had to be fun for America to watch.”
Only for the offensive-minded.
Georgia’s final stop was about the only defensive highlight on a day that produced 943 yards of offense and a game that was tied at 14, 17, 27 and 34, with never more than a touchdown’s difference between the two despite points bouncing off all corners of Sanford Stadium.
“It was crazy,” said LSU wide receiver Jarvis Landry, who caught 10 balls for 156 yards and touchdown. “This is one of those games you’ll remember forever.”
In the second half, LSU managed to occasionally slow down the Georgia running game that gashed the Tigers for 143 yards rushing in the first half, but Murray strafed a confused Tigers secondary, eventually throwing for 298 yards and four scores.
“This is a tough loss,” LSU defensive captain Lamin Barrow said. “Not many teams have put up that many points on this defense.
“We had some trouble getting the calls in and called the wrong calls sometimes. Just a little bit of communication problem.”
The winning touchdown pass was typically wide open, with three defensive backs looking at each other in astonishment as Scott-Wesley hauled in the winner.
“Yeah,” Miles said when asked if it was a busted coverage. “There were a lot of coverage busts.
“It’s got to work.”
Mettenberger’s homecoming was ruined despite lighting up Athens with a career-high 372 yards — the most by an LSU quarterback in a dozen years — with three touchdowns and a host a crucial throws that allowed the Tigers to convert 10 of 15 third-down opportunities.
“Was he perfect?” Miles asked. “No. But he was (darn) good.”
Mettenberger completed 23 of 37, including touchdowns of 48 and 4 yards to Boone and 39 yards to Landry, and he threw a threaded-rope 25-yard completion to Beckham on third-and-22 that set up the Tigers’ final touchdown.
“Unfortunately, we weren’t able to connect on a few more passes there at the end,” said Mettenberger, who insisted he had total confidence the Tigers had one more scoring drive in them. “It was just like every other drive, go down there and score.”
It was simple enough most of the day — for both teams.
But while never managing a sack, Georgia did get to Mettenberger four times, including at the start of the final drive.
“We didn’t always get what we wanted with (blitz calls),” Miles said. “We’ve got to do better than that.”
Georgia, despite losing star running back Todd Gurley in the second quarter, finished with 196 yards rushing and 494 yards of offense.
LSU almost matched it.
“We did not get the rushing yards that we would have liked,” Miles said. “Defensively we have to play better. The secondary cannot give up those big plays, and we have to rush the passer.”
LSU added 77 yards rushing to Mettenberger’s gaudy throwing stats and finished with 449 yards offense.
“We were a mistake or two away from winning that game,” Miles said curtly.
Beckham’s six catches for 118 yards gave LSU two receivers with more than 100 yards, and Kadron Boone became the first receiver other Beckham and Landry to catch a touchdown pass.
But Beckham made a crucial mistake when he fumbled a punt at the LSU 20-yard and the Bulldogs recovered.
“I know he’d like to get that muffed punt back,” Miles said. “That said, when you play a quality team on the road you can’t afford to give them anything like that.”
Posted By: kcabby On: 9/29/2013
Title: it wasnt about one player
both teams fought hard and it was back and forth. With the game being played the way it was, I dont see gurly making that much more of an impact. The beckham fumble was a big break late for dawgs but ulimately they put more pressure on teh qb and this was the major differnece in a shoot out and one hell of a game...
Posted By: conie On: 9/29/2013
Title: georgia played majority of gamewithout best player
Georgia played majority of game without its best player who is the running back gurley. Still LSU could not win. Perhaps if they did not have any of their best players then LSU could have won. LSu should not make any excuses as Miles usually does with his foolish talk to try to be cute. again , the dAWGS played 3 quarters without the best player on roster and still won the game. go figure...........