BATON ROUGE, La. - No. 12 LSU remained unbeaten with a 16-14 victory Saturday after a Tennessee penalty for too many players on the field rescued the Tigers from a botched play as time ran out.
Stevan Ridley then bulled his way into the end zone from a yard out, and fans who only moments earlier had begun to file out of Tiger Stadium in disgust were suddenly jumping for joy in the aisles.
Quarterback Jordan Jefferson came up just short when he kept the ball on an option on second-and-goal from the 1. There were 28 seconds still remaining, but suddenly LSU's offense appeared to have no idea what to do. With the Tiger Stadium crowd screaming frantically to run a play, Jefferson wandered about before finally hustling to the line of scrimmage in the shotgun formation.
Seeing the final seconds melting off the clock, T-Bob Hebert snapped the ball, saying he did not want a repeat of last-second blunders that cost LSU in a loss at Mississippi last season. Jefferson was unable to handle the snap and dived on the ball as Tennessee players piled on him and fans groaned at what had to look to them like a bad case of deja vu.
But officials ruled the Vols (2-3, 0-2 SEC) had 13 defensive players on the field when the ball was snapped. LSU is 5-0, 3-0.
"I don't know that we could play any sloppier. I don't know that we could have planned it any more poorly," LSU coach Les Miles said. "The series of downs on the back end of that game was embarrassing to me."
Vols coach Derek Dooley said: "Things happened fast and guys didn't run off the field. The ball was snapped pretty quickly, and so we lose the game. The rule is, when they run guys out on the field, we have to have adequate time to run guys off."
Dooley said an appeal would probably be futile.
Outside the LSU locker room, Ridley had ice wrapped on his left arm, a result of his bruising 123 yards rushing and second-effort TD. "That was one of the craziest games I've ever been a part of," he said.
Quarterback Jordan Jefferson had an 83-yard TD run on LSU's first offensive play, but his game went downhill after that. He finished 3-for-10 for 30 yards and two interceptions.