No. 1 ranked Tigers prove their worth in 28-24 win
New Orleans Saints in unprecedented meltdown losing to Panthers
The Tigers erased a 10-point fourth quarter deficit for a 28-24 win over the Florida Gators and arguably one of the best football players to ever grace Tiger Stadium in Gator quarterback Tim Tebow.
The other, one day later in the Superdome, the football breakdown of the Cinderella story of 2006 continued to strike midnight for the New Orleans Saints.
After dominating play for most of the game, the Saints had a blocked field goal and a missed field goal by Olindo Mare, along with a late interception that led the injury-riddled Carolina Panthers to a 16-13 win over the Saints.
The Saints had repeated chances to pull out their first victory of the 2007 season, but a season of futility continued as the team went through a series of penalties, dropped passes, turnovers and missed field goals.
The Saints football team we all saw in 2006 has vanished in front of our very eyes and they are playing the game with no confidence or spirit.
With a game on the road against the Seattle Seahawks next on the schedule, the Saints seem to be in a football freefall with no net to stop them from hitting rock-bottom.
On the other hand the LSU Tigers showed a fighting resolve to keep hold of their No. 1 ranking and they did it.
There has never been an underclassman to quarterback a team to a victory against a top-five LSU team in Baton Rouge, but Tebow came within a heartbeat of erasing that record.
The former prep All-American and soon to be college All-American quarterback rushed for 75 yards on 16 carries and 1 score, along with completing 12 of his 26 passes for 158 yards and 2 scores against the top-ranked defense in the country.
And as the fourth quarter started the young Gator football team had a 24-14 lead against LSU, but the veteran Tiger football team came to life.
First off, Tiger Stadium went ballistic when the official announcement came over the loudspeaker that the USC Trojans had been upset by the Stanford Cardinals 24-23.
Then former East St. John High School star defensive end Kirston Pittman yanked a deflected pass out of the thick-bayou air for an interception, and five plays later quarterback Matt Flynn hit wide receiver Demetrius Byrd for a 4-yard touchdown pass on fourth down to cut the Gator lead to 24-21.
The tough Tiger defense who had trouble all night stopping Tebow and company on offense had a three-play and out series and a forced punt to set up the late night heroics.
But it was the 15 play, 60-yard LSU drive late that showed the toughness and attitude of a championship-type team.
Led by running back Jacob Hester, who rushed for career-high 106 yards on 23 carries, the Tigers made one after another third and fourth down conversion situations to set up Hesterís 2-yard touchdown plunge with 1:09 left in the contest.
Give Tiger head coach Les Miles full credit for playing with house money because on five different fourth down situations he went for the winning play and opened himself up for plenty of second-guessing.
But the plays and players got it done out on the field and it showed the heart of a champion.
Believe me, if you were there in Tiger Stadium or watching it on television or listening to the contest on the radio you wonít easily forget the moment.
Old Tiger Stadium has seen many great moments and contests, but Saturday night was a moment etched all by itself in LSU history.
The only bad part of this story is that the Tigers will have to face Tim Tebow at least two more times during his college career.
And for the Saints, last seasonís magical carriage ride to the NFL mountain is now almost a distant memory.
Email Mike Detillier at email@example.com.
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