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Randall fires two TD passes in relief

11/24/2002

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) -- Marcus Randall didn't get the start, but
he was around to get the victory.

Randall, who stepped in for injured Matt Mauck five games ago,
came off the bench and threw two touchdown passes as LSU (No. 20 ESPN/USA Today, No. 21 AP) rallied to beat Mississippi 14-13 Saturday night.

"I knew when I went in that I had to play like how I know how
to, so I could stay in,'' Randall said. "By starting late, I got
to see what the defense was doing.''

LSU (8-3, 5-2 SEC) needed the victory to stay on top in the
Western Division race. The winner of next Friday's game between LSU
and Arkansas will play in the SEC title game against Georgia on
Dec. 7.

"We've been saying it's a one-game season for a long time,''
LSU coach Nick Saban said. "Now everybody knows it is.''

Mississippi (5-6, 2-5) lost its fifth straight, but the Rebels
had won four of the last five games in the series, including the
last three in Baton Rouge.

"It was a tough loss for us,'' said Ole Miss coach David
Cutcliffe. "The players played extremely hard, and we made a lot
of plays that allowed us to maintain the lead for a big part of the
game.''

Rick Clausen started the game in place of Randall. The Tigers
were 2-2 with Randall as the starter, but he struggled in the last
three games, including big losses to Auburn and Alabama.

Clausen, a left-handed redshirt freshman who had not played with
a game on the line since high school, completed two of six passes for 9
yards. He was intercepted once and fumbled twice. He recovered both
but lost 17 yards.

Randall started the second quarter and completed 13 of 20 passes
for 179 yards and two touchdowns. He was sacked once and ran for 31
yards, and his 27-yard TD pass to Michael Clayton with 6:34
remaining erased a six-point deficit and put the Tigers ahead for
good.

LSU outgained Mississippi 322-279 but fumbled five times and
lost three. The Tigers held the football 32:58 to Mississippi's
27:02, but converted only 6 of 17 third downs.

While the LSU offense struggled, the Tigers' defense was tough.
They limited Mississippi to 61 yards rushing, sacked Eli Manning
twice, intercepted him twice and held them to five of 16 third-down
conversions.

"At one point in the game, he'd been right too many times,''
LSU linebacker Bradie James said of Manning. "We had to throw a
monkey wrench into his game. The pride of this team is defense.''

Manning completed 19 of 38 passes for 218 yards and a touchdown.

Mississippi was driving when LSU cornerback Corey Webster
intercepted Eli Manning's pass at the LSU 22 with 1:51 left in the
game, ending Mississippi's hopes of winning the game.

Jonathan Nichols' 36-yard field goal gave Ole Miss a 3-0 lead in
the first quarter. Manning added to the lead as he drove the Rebels
43 yards on four plays, capping the drive with a 20-yard touchdown
pass to Mike Espy just before halftime to make it 10-0.

The Tigers came back on a 76-yard drive. Randall hit Devery
Henderson for a 19-yard touchdown to cut the Mississippi lead to
10-7 at the half. It was LSU's first touchdown in six quarters.
Henderson had to be helped off the field after the score. He has a
broken left arm and was scheduled to have surgery Sunday.

Travis Johnson recovered a fumble by Domanick Davis to set up a
39-yard field goal by Nichols that made it 13-7 in third quarter.

LSU faked a 51-yard field goal, only to have Blain Bech's pass
fall incomplete. Mississippi took over at its 34 but couldn't take
advantage as Manning was sacked for a 13-yard loss.

LeBrandon Toefield fumbled on LSU's first possession of the
fourth quarter, giving Ole Miss the ball at the LSU 31. Mississippi
drove to the LSU 8, then Manning's pass bounced off Tremaine
Turner's helmet and into the hands of Demetrius Hookfin. Hookfin
returned the ball to the LSU 48, but LSU could not advance past
midfield.