BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) -- Demetrius Byrd waved up at the press
box, hoping LSU offensive coordinator Gary Crowton had seen what he
With time expiring on LSU's national title hopes, Byrd wanted a
chance to beat the lone defender on his side of the field.
"Then I got in the huddle and that was the play call, and I
knew I just had to go out there and make a play on it," Byrd said.
With a second to spare, Byrd hauled in Matt Flynn's 22-yard fade
to the back of the end zone, lifting fifth-ranked LSU to a 30-24
victory over No. 18 Auburn on Saturday night.
Just another chapter in a long history of tight, thrilling
contests between these two teams, with big hits, controversial
calls and dramatic endings.
A week after losing in triple overtime to Kentucky and giving up
the No. 1 ranking, LSU (No. 4 BCS) couldn't afford a second straight loss.
Now with South Florida losing earlier in the week, LSU (7-1, 4-1
Southeastern Conference) is certain to move up to at least third in
the BCS standings, behind only undefeated Ohio State, which also
won, and possibly Boston College, which was idle this weekend.
The victory also puts LSU on the inside track to win the SEC
West, as the winner of the Auburn-LSU rivalry has done in five of
the past seven years.
Flynn finished with 319 yards passing and three touchdowns, the
last on what seemed to be a risky play called by a coach who's
shown he's not afraid to gamble.
Les Miles had converted five fourth downs in a dramatic 28-24
victory over Florida the last time LSU was at home. This time, he
let Flynn take one last shot at the end zone with the clock winding
down, when the safer play would have been to set up for a potential
game-winning field goal attempt.
LSU had a timeout left, but the Tigers cut it awfully close on
their final play.
"If we tip the ball in the end zone, the game's over," Auburn
defensive coordinator Will Muschamp said. "They made the play."
Miles said those calls come from being confident in his players,
who had come back from a 17-7 halftime deficit.
"They showed great character and great resolve and want -- the
way they played in the second half," Miles said.
Auburn's Brandon Cox turned in a gutty performance, passing for
199 yards and a pair of touchdowns despite taking numerous big
His last scoring pass, a 3-yard strike to Rodgeriqus Smith, gave
Auburn a 24-23 lead with 3:21 to go.
It completed an 83-yard drive, which Auburn had the benefit of
engineering without LSU standout defensive tackle Glenn Dorsey on
the field. Dorsey left the game in the third quarter with an
injured right leg after he was caught awkwardly in a pile at the
line of scrimmage.
But Auburn (5-3, 3-2), following a game-long pattern of keeping
the ball away from LSU returner Trindon Holliday, squibbed the
kickoff, giving LSU the ball on its 42.
"We just weren't going to kick it to their returner," Auburn
coach Tommy Tuberville said. "We still felt good about it. We
didn't make the plays."
Flynn scrambled for 19 yards during the final drive, then took
one more shot at the end zone instead of getting the ball in the
middle of the field to set a field goal attempt. He floated a pass
perfectly to the back of the end zone, where Byrd emerged from
behind defensive back Jarraud Powers and made a sliding catch,
sending Tiger Stadium into a frenzy.
"They made a great call and a great catch," Powers said. "I
had him covered."
LSU extended its winning streak in Death Valley to 18 games.
Auburn came in on a three-game winning streak that included
impressive road wins over No. 14 Florida and Arkansas.
Jacob Hester gave LSU a 20-17 lead, diving for the pylon early
in the fourth quarter after catching a swing-pass on third-and-goal
from the 5. He also led a patient rushing attack that amassed 169
yards, all but 40 in the second half.
A flag was thrown on Hester's touchdown for LSU having not
enough players line up on the line of scrimmage. But officials
wanted to see a replay of the play to confirm that Hester had in
fact got the pylon for a score. In doing so, they decided LSU was
in fact lined up properly and picked up the flag.
Tuberville was furious and argued with officials for several
minutes before the ensuing kickoff.
"That's obviously got to be looked at," Tuberville said.
"There's a flag on the field. You've got to work that out before
you start looking at [the replay]. Unfortunately they did it the
way you're not supposed to."
LSU's lone touchdown of the first half came when Keiland
Williams turned a swing pass into a 46-yard touchdown.
Flynn led LSU back with help from his best receiver, Early Doucet, back from a groin injury that had caused him to miss most
of the last five games. Doucet made several clutch catches,
finishing with seven receptions for 93 yards.
"The return with Early
Doucet on the offensive side helped us a
ton and we look forward to having him the rest of the way," Miles