Leonard. Fournette. Leonard Fournette. Leonard f’n Fournete.
I mean, what else can you say? Boy, have we missed that guy. Fournette, who played the first month of the season at half strength, just seemed like a shell of himself as he fell out of the Heisman race. Ed Orgeron forced him to sit out two games to rest that ankle, and he finally came out with the kind of performance we had come to take for granted.
I want all of y’all to remember this night. Burn into your memory when everything is still fresh. Leonard Fournette is the greatest running back, and probably the greatest football player, that has ever worn the purple and gold. We were lucky to have him, and we should cherish the few short games we have left with him.
Lost in the party of the second half is that this game started about as poorly as it could have. LSU went three and out on its first two possessions, and Ole Miss scored on both of its first two. In what has become a disturbing trend, Aranda’s defense allowed a huge drive to kick off the game before settling in and delivering another top tier performance.
Still, he made us sweat at first, wondering if that great defense would ever show up. Ole Miss jumped out to an early 10-0 lead, and a rollicking Tiger Stadium crowd went suddenly silent. It looked like we were in for a long night, but then Fournette showed up and delivered us to the promised land.
With that spark, the fire ignited in the rest of the team. LSU took the lead for the first time at 14-10 on a 40-yad reception by DJ Chark. The defense stiffened up, Fournette scored another touchdown, and it looked like LSU was going to cruise into the half with an eight-point lead.
Then, Orgeron got a bit greedy. After holding Ole Miss to a punt with about 1:15 left in the half, LSU got the ball back on its own 15. Instead of enjoying their good fortune and going into the half on a high, the coaches dialed up the big place play. It went poorly, and Etling fumbled the ball after getting hit on the blindside. Ole Miss recovered and punched in a touchdown with seconds left in the half. A two-point conversion made it a tie game, and all of that wind fell out of LSU’s sails.
Then came the second half. LSU’s defense would earn a three and out on the first possession of the half, and Fournette would score yet another touchdown. LSU took a lead that it would never relinquish early in the third. They weren’t going to squander their second round of good fortune.
Jamal Adams seemed to be everywhere for most of the game, and Arden Key provided a ton of pressure. He only ended up with one sack, but he made a huge impact by constantly getting pressure on the quarterback. Ole Miss kept trying to test Tre White, which just seems like a bad idea, even in retrospect.
The defense shut the door in the second half. Ole Miss couldn’t get anything together, and as the Tigers got stronger in the second half, the Rebels seemed to wilt. Fournette was the obvious star tonight, but the defense played about as well as a defense could in a game in which it surrendered 21 points. This game was tied at the half, and Ole Miss barely even threatened in the second half. They killed it.
But not as much as Leonard Fournette, who now owns the LSU record for the greatest single-game rushing performance in LSU history. He showed us the way to victory, and the team followed him there.