LSU wins shootout against Ole Miss, 53-48; Johnson, Boutte set records

LSU Football
LSU Tigers during a game against the Ole Miss Rebels at Tiger Stadium on 12 19, 2020 in Baton...
LSU Tigers during a game against the Ole Miss Rebels at Tiger Stadium on 12 19, 2020 in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.(Brandon Gallego | Brandon Gallego)
Updated: Dec. 20, 2020 at 4:01 AM CST
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BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - It’s a lot later in the season than usual but LSU and Ole Miss continue their annual rivalry known as the Magnolia Bowl and after a shootout of a game, the Tigers were the ones to hoist the trophy for the fifth straight year.

LSU (5-5) beat Ole Miss (4-5), 53-48, in a soggy Tiger Stadium.

True freshman quarterback Max Johnson was 27-of-51 for 435 yards (LSU freshman record) and three touchdowns. He threw one interception. He also ran the ball 14 times for 45 yards and two touchdowns.

LSU quarterback Max Johnson (14) throws a pass during a game against the Ole Miss Rebels at...
LSU quarterback Max Johnson (14) throws a pass during a game against the Ole Miss Rebels at Tiger Stadium on 12 19, 2020 in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.(MG Miller | MG Miller)

True freshman wide receiver Kayshon Boutte finished with 14 catches for 308 yards and three touchdowns. He set a new SEC record for receiving yards in a single game.

LSU was trailing Ole Miss, 48-46, with about 2:00 left in the game when Johnson connected with Boutte, who was able to break a tackle, out run a few defenders, and then muscle his way into the end zone of a 45-yard touchdown to give LSU the 53-48 lead with 1:34 remaining.

With Ole Miss driving and less than a minute left, Ali Gaye tackled Rebel quarterback Matt Corral, forcing the ball to pop out of his hands and JaCoby Stevens recovered to secure the win and help LSU extend its streak of avoiding a losing season to 22 years. The fumble recovery was one of six turnovers the LSU defense forced on the day. Gaye had one of five interceptions for the Tigers. Jay Ward had two, including a pick-six. Jabril Cox and Todd Harris Jr. had the other two.

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After the LSU offense went three-and-out on the first possession of the game, the defense suffered a coverage bust that resulted in a pass play that gained 57 yards. Three plays later, Corral connected with wide receiver Braylon Sanders for a 20-yard touchdown to give Ole Miss the 7-0 lead on a 6-play, 85-yard drive that took just a little more than 2:00.

Later, LSU was able to get on the board behind a 34-yard field goal by Cade York to make it 7-3 with 5:37 remaining in the first quarter. On the next possession by Ole Miss, Ward read Corral and jumped a route for a 31-yard pick-six to give LSU the 10-7 lead with 5:26 left in the first quarter.

Then, Plaquemine’s Todd Harris Jr. intercepted another Corral pass for LSU. Micah Baskerville was called for unnecessary roughness on the play but LSU kept the ball. A 9-play, 86-yard drive was capped off by a 1-yard touchdown run by Johnson to extend LSU’s lead to 17-7 with 12:17 remaining in the second quarter.

The Rebels responded instantly. On the kickoff, Jerrion Ealy returned it 100 yards, which was more like 107 yards, for a touchdown to cut LSU’s lead to 17-14 with 12:03 left in the second quarter.

Later in the quarter, with Ole Miss driving, Gaye made an incredible play. He sack-stripped Corral and then caught the ball before it hit the ground to record an interception. Four plays later, Johnson found Boutte for a 32-yard touchdown to put LSU up, 24-14, with 4:50 to go in the half.

After Ole Miss scored on a 1-yard touchdown run to make it 34-21, the Johnson-Boutte connection found the end zone again. The 18-yard pitch and catch on a fourth-and-2 made it 31-21 with just under 1:00 remaining before halftime.

With Ole Miss driving to try to score before the break, Cox picked off a pass by Corral and four plays later, York nailed a 34-yard field goal to extend the lead to 34-21. LSU added a 23-yard field goal in the third quarter to go up, 37-21. Then, the Rebels got rolling. They scored on a 10-yard run to make it 37-27 and on a 5-yard pass that pulled them back within three points at 37-34 with just over 4:00 left in the third quarter. But York was able to give the Tigers a little more cushion on a 50-yard field goal to make it 40-34 with 2:16 remaining in the third quarter. York is 6-of-7 on field goals of 50 or more yards this year and 10-of-12 for his career.

The Rebels came right back again. First, a 25-yard touchdown pass to Sanders gave them a 41-40 lead and they extended that on a 2-yard touchdown run by Corral to go up 48-40 with 8:43 left in the game. The Tigers then responded with another 1-yard plunge by Johnson and the 45-yard touchdown pass to Boutte to make it 53-48.

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