ATLANTA -- LSU offensive coordinator Steve Ensminger helped lead the Tigers past Oklahoma in a College Football Playoff semifinal on Saturday hours after learning his daughter-in-law, Carley McCord, was one of five people killed when a private plane crashed in Lafayette, Louisiana.
After the game, Tigers coach Ed Orgeron and members of the team had nothing but praise for Ensminger's perseverance.
"I was the one that had to tell [Ensminger], and ... here's what he said: 'Coach, we're gonna get through this,'" Orgeron said after the 63-28 win over the Sooners in the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl. "And obviously he was distraught, but he called a great game today. So, just goes to show you the integrity and the grit and the character of the men on our football team."
McCord, a sideline reporter and sports talk radio host covering the New Orleans Pelicans, Saints and other sports, was traveling on a private plane to Atlanta to attend the game. Her husband, Steve Ensminger Jr., told The Associated Press he was unable to go to the game and was at work when the crash happened.
While quarterback Joe Burrow and some teammates said they didn't learn of the crash until after the game, LSU defensive lineman Breiden Fehoko was among a group of players who said they found out in the locker room before kickoff.
"It was tough. To just lose a loved one like that, I think we all kind of took that one to the heart," said Fehoko, who marveled at the team's offensive performance. "It's so tough, especially for Coach E, to come out and coach a game like he did tonight. Offense hung 63 points, they could've put up 75 if they wanted to. All the credit goes to him."
Burrow, who backed up his Heisman Trophy with a record-setting day that included seven touchdown passes and a rushing score, said he learned of the crash when reporters asked him about it after the game.
"That's a tough one. I'll have to go see Coach for that one," Burrow said. "Obviously he's a great man, great family, so I hope the world is praying for him."
Tight end Thaddeus Moss saw the news on his phone before the game.
"[Coaching this game] says a lot about him," Moss said. "It shows how much he cares about the team, how much he cares about us. ... He went out there and called a hell of a game, and we played a hell of a game. It just says a lot about him."
McCord, 30, was an alumna of LSU. She previously worked as a sports reporter in Cleveland before returning to her hometown of Baton Rouge, Louisiana. She and Ensminger would have celebrated their second wedding anniversary on Jan. 26.
WDSU-TV in New Orleans, which employed McCord as a sideline reporter, issued a statement on McCord's death.
"We are devastated by the loss of such an amazing talent and valued member of our WDSU family," station president and general manager Joel Vilmenay said. "Carley's passion for sports journalism and her deep knowledge of Louisiana sports, from high school to the professional ranks, made her an exceptional journalist. As we reflect on her impressive body of work, we offer our deepest condolences to her family."
The Pelicans and Saints also issued a joint statement on McCord's death, and the Pelicans held a moment of silence for McCord ahead of Saturday night's game against the Indiana Pacers.
"He's getting the game ball tonight," Orgeron told ESPN's Holly Rowe on the field after the game.
Ensminger Jr. said he and his wife had the same birthday, and he shared a photo of the two celebrating at a restaurant, a dessert with a candle between them. His Instagram account shows photos of the couple and their families at various sporting events and celebrations. He updated the account Saturday to say: "I'll never be the same with out you, Carley! You are, and will forever be my world."
The eight-passenger plane crashed into the parking lot of a post office about a mile from the Lafayette Regional Airport, Federal Aviation Administration spokesman Tony Molinaro said.
In addition to McCord, four others aboard the plane died, including 51-year-old pilot Ian E. Biggs. The other passengers who died were Robert Vaughn Crisp II, 59; Gretchen D. Vincent, 51; and Michael Walker Vincent, 15.
Four people were brought to the hospital: one from the plane identified as Stephen Wade Berzas, 37, and one on the ground and two post office employees who were brought in for evaluation, Lafayette Fire Department spokesman Alton Trahan said. Berzas was in critical condition, Trahan said.
Eyewitnesses told KLFY-TV that the plane hit a car as it fell, and that someone could be heard screaming inside the vehicle. A blackened car sat in the post office parking lot, which was carpeted with scattered tree limbs.
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.