Russell to Doucet passes help rally LSU
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. -- LSU's JaMarcus Russell and Early Doucet were connecting in the final 7½ minutes against Tennessee even when the receiver was not the target.
The Tigers' quarterback completed five passes to Doucet in the final drive, but the game-winning catch was actually a pass intended for another receiver. Doucet grabbed it anyway, and LSU rallied to win 28-24 Saturday night.
The win was LSU's first on the road this season. The Tigers (7-2, 3-2 Southeastern Conference) moved up one place to 12th in the AP Top 25 released Sunday. The Volunteers (7-2, 3-2), whose loss clinched the East division title for Florida, dropped from No. 8 to No. 13.
Tennessee was close to pulling off its own comeback with a redshirt freshman quarterback playing in place of the injured starter, but the Vols' defense couldn't stop the top-scoring offense in the SEC.
Trailing 24-21 after Jonathan Crompton completed a 54-yarder to Robert Meachem, LSU got the ball back with 7:29 remaining and drained all but 9 seconds on the clock with a 15-play, 80-yard drive.
"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," Doucet said.
On the final drive, he was right.
On third-and-goal, Russell threw the ball to the middle of the end zone and Doucet came down with the 4-yard pass for the touchdown with 9 seconds left.
"The touchdown was going to Dwayne (Bowe), but Early came and jumped in and took the pass from him," Russell said.
Doucet said: "I didn't see (Bowe). I just saw the play and tried to make the play."
Aside from the touchdown, one of the biggest plays of the drive was on fourth down. On fourth-and-3 at the Tennessee 37, LSU was called for a false start. Pushed back another 5 yards, Russell found Doucet for an 8-yard gain and first down.
"That was a tough one," Doucet said. "The (Tennessee player) actually had his hand on the ball, and I kinda just ripped it away from him."
Then Doucet caught an 11-yarder for another first down. Once inside the Vols 10, LSU just needed three plays to score.
Russell finished 24-of-36 for 247 yards and touchdown completions to Doucet, Bowe and Buster Davis. Russell overcame three interceptions, including one returned for a touchdown that put the Vols ahead 17-7 in the beginning of the third quarter.
Doucet led LSU with eight catches for 73 yards, and Russell had a team-high 71 yards rushing on seven carries.
The Tigers rushed for a total of 231 yards, the second-most given up by Tennessee this season.
LSU proved why its defense is ranked the best in the country. The Tigers held the Vols to 62 yards on the ground and 186 yards passing.
"LSU came out as a great two-loss team, and we couldn't finish at the end," Tennessee offensive tackle Arron Sears said.
Erik Ainge, the Vols' starting QB, sprained his right ankle in the previous week's game at South Carolina. He started the LSU game but only played the first quarter.
"He got tackled, and he not only re-injured that ankle a bit, but I think he hurt the other one a bit as well," Tennessee coach Phillip Fulmer said.
Crompton, a redshirt freshman who played sparingly before this game, took over for Ainge. He completed 11 of 24 passes for 183 yards and two touchdowns, both to Meachem. He was intercepted once and sacked once.
"Jonathan's going to be a heck of a quarterback," Fulmer said. "He'll be a really fine football player with more time and experience."
The Vols travel to Arkansas this week, and it was unclear which quarterback would start.
LSU hosts Alabama.
"They got up on us for a little while," LSU defensive end Chase Pittman said. "There's no quit in this team and no quit in this coaching staff."
Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press
This story is from ESPN.com's automated news wire. Wire index
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