A league of his own - Fournette smashes Ole Miss

BATON ROUGE — The Cubs are back in the World Series for the first time in 1945.

Leonard Fournette is back in the Heisman Trophy race for the first time since 2015.

And LSU interim coach Ed Orgeron got back at Ole Miss, which fired him in 2007, in a wild, 38-21 victory in front of about 88,000 at Tiger Stadium Saturday night.

"I've never been a part of a player like Leonard," Orgeron said after Fournette gained 284 yards on 16 carries to break LSU's single game rushing record of 250 yards. "He's dynamic. I believe he's the best player in America."

Fournette, playing in his first game since the loss at Auburn on Sept. 24 because of an injured ankle, broke Heisman highlight reel touchdown runs of 59, 76 and 78 yards in front of a prime-time national television audience on ESPN. A year ago at this time, he was leading by a landslide in virtually all Heisman polls before a late season slide knocked him out of the race. Fournette had 172 yards in the first half on just six carries with the 59- and 76-yard touchdown runs and broke the rushing record early in the third quarter.

The junior from New Orleans busted the 78-yard touchdown run on LSU’s first play of the third quarter to give the Tigers a 28-21 lead and put his total at 249 yards for the game — just one short of Lafayette native Alley Broussard’s school record of 250 set in a 27-24 win over Ole Miss here in 2004. Fournette broke it on his next carry — a 4-yard gain that gave him 253 at the time. He also caught three passes for 25 yards to give him 309 all-purpose yards.

"It was great to have Leonard back obviously," Orgeron said. "I think he's the best player in America. I'm glad he's on our team."

Colby Delahoussaye’s 44-yard field goal with 8:27 to play in the third quarter gave LSU a 31-21 lead. Fournette finished the third period with 254 yards on 12 carries.

The Tigers (5-2, 3-1 Southeastern Conference) moved 70 yards in 11 plays to put the game away on a 6-yard run by backup tailback Derrius Guice for a 38-21 lead with 7:26 to play in the game. Guice finished 57 yards on 16 carries.

Fournette and the No. 23 Tigers started slow, spotting Ole Miss (3-4, 1-3 SEC) a 10-0 lead in the first quarter, but then No. 7 took over. With a freeing block by fullback Bry’Kiethon Mouton of Lafayette, Fournette bolted 59 yards for a touchdown to cut Ole Miss’ lead to 10-7 with 3:26 to play in the first quarter. Fournette finished the first quarter with 64 yards on three carries.

"He looked awfully good," Orgeron said. "The offensive line blocked tremendously well."

After quarterback Danny Etling found wide receiver D.J. Chark all alone for a 40-yard touchdown to give LSU a 14-10 lead early in the second quarter and Ole Miss’ Gary Wunderlich cut that to 14-13 on a 22-yard field goal, Fournette struck again from 76 yards for a 21-13 lead with 6:11 to go in the second quarter.

But LSU blew a chance to take over the game as Ole Miss’ defensive end Marquis Haynes sacked Etling and forced a fumble that cornerback Jaylon Jones recovered at the LSU 9-yard line with 1:03 to go before halftime. Etling was attempting a first-down pass at his own 17-yard line. On third and goal from the LSU 3-yard line, tailback Akeem Judd scored, and quarterback Chad Kelly ran in for the two-point conversion and 21-21 halftime tie.

The victory improved Orgeron and his audition for the permanent job to 3-0 as he defeated the school that fired him in 2007 after three losing seasons as head coach.

"Whatever happened there was a long time ago," Orgeron said.

It looked like it might be a long night for Orgeron early on. Ole Miss took the opening kickoff 77 yards in six plays as Kelly dismantled LSU’s pass defense with a 50-yard completion to Damore’ea Stringfellow and a 15-yard touchdown to wide receiver Van Jefferson for a 7-0 lead with 10:52 to go in the first quarter.

After LSU’s second straight three-and-out and two more completions by Kelly, the Rebels took a 10-0 lead on a 46-yard field goal by Wunderlich.

LSU's defense settled down as first-year defensive coordinator Dave Aranda figured out Ole Miss' fast-paced offense and shut it down for the most part for the rest of the game.

"Dave Aranda's pretty sharp," Orgeron said. "He makes adjustments. He doesn't change the defense, but he changes leverage. They'd change a play at the line, and he would change." 

LSU will be open next weekend before hosting No. 1 Alabama (8-0, 5-0 SEC) on Nov. 5 in Tiger Stadium. The Crimson Tide defeated No. 6 Texas A&M, 33-14, Saturday.

"After watching the tape, I might not be as excited," Orgeron said when asked about playing Alabama. "I'm just joking."   


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