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November 17, 2007
OXFORD, Miss. — Trindon Holliday returned a kickoff 98 yards for a touchdown, LSU forced two turnovers during goal-line stands and the top-ranked Tigers slipped past Mississippi 41-24 on Saturday.
The Tigers (10-1, 6-1) didn't play especially well on offense, but Craig Steltz and the nation's top-ranked defense helped them earn their first outright Southeastern Conference Western Division title. LSU set a school record with three consecutive seasons of 10 wins or more.
It was LSU's fourth straight win and the sixth straight against Ole Miss (3-8, 0-7), which is in danger of a winless conference season for the first time since 1982. The Rebels are now 0-6 against top-ranked teams.
Steltz had rally ending interceptions late in each half, and Jacob Hester and Charles Scott each rushed for touchdowns after failed Ole Miss onside kicks in the fourth quarter to ensure the win. Colt David added second-half field goals of 48 and 43 yards as well.
Ole Miss coaches pulled starting quarterback Seth Adams in the first quarter after several incompletions. His backup, Brent Schaeffer, added some juice to the offense, hitting several long passes and cutting LSU's lead to 10 with a serpentine 38-yard scoring run midway through the fourth.
Steltz picked off Schaeffer's errant pass on Ole Miss' next drive with 5:05, however. And Hester punched it in from 2-yards out to secure the win, though Schaeffer would hit Shay Hodge with a 33-yard touchdown pass with 2:54 left to make it 34-24.
Rebels tailback BenJarvus Green-Ellis earned his second-straight 1,000-yard season, with 54 yards rushing for a total of 1,020 with a game to go. But his fumble on LSU's 1-yard line in the first quarter was his most memorable play.
Ole Miss drove 57 yards to the LSU 2 on its second drive. But as Green-Ellis started to stretch the ball across the goal line on the next play, backup middle linebacker Jacob Cutrera, making the start for injured Darry Beckwith, caused the fumble at the 1 with his helmet.
Ole Miss forced LSU to punt after three plays and Marshay Green broke three tackles on the way to a 44-yard punt return to tie the score at 7.
LSU answered 14 seconds later when Holliday broke a tackle around the 30 and returned the ensuing kickoff 98 yards for a touchdown that put the Tigers back on top 14-7 with 3:04 left in the first quarter.
Ole Miss threatened to tie the game going into halftime after driving to LSU's 4.
But coaches yanked Schaeffer after the Rebels were called for delay of game.
Adams was nearly picked off by LSU on the next play when Ali Highsmith bobbled and dropped an interception.
LSU got it right on the next play when Steltz intercepted a pass by Adams in the back of the end zone. There were no Ole Miss players near the ball.
Schaeffer started the second half, and finished with a career-high 208 yards passing. He also rushed for 94 yards on eight carries.
Matt Flynn and Keiland Williams scored rushing touchdowns in the first half and Scott led the Tigers with 66 yards rushing on three carries, including his 29-yard touchdown run.
LSU' 98-yard scoring drive to open the game was its longest of the season, but Ole Miss held the Tigers to their fourth-lowest offensive output of the season with 396 yards.