No. 14 Louisiana St. 20, South Carolina 20
COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) _ Sheddrick Wilson walked on crutches afterward, his knee heavily wrapped and his ankle severely sprained as he held back a grimace with every step toward the LSU team bus.
It seemed ridiculous to think that moments earlier, Wilson sped past South Carolina safety Chris Abrams for a 19-yard touchdown with 1:06 to go as the 14th-ranked Tigers salvaged a 20-20 tie against the Gamecocks on Saturday.
``Right now, my pain is mostly mental,″ said Wilson, who went full speed on an injury that would lay some up for weeks. ``I don’t think we took care of business the way we came to.″
Andre Lafleur, who had field goals of 46 and 41 yards, immediately came in to make the extra point for the Tigers (3-1-1, 2-0-1 Southeastern Conference).
Wilson injured himself just before halftime, planting his foot making a catch and spraining his right knee. He later sprained the ankle running a deep route.
``I knew I was going to be limited as to what I could do,″ said Wilson, who finished with six catches. ``But I also know I have a high pain tolerance and it was going to take more than a sprained knee or ankle to keep me out of a game.″
Kendall Cleveland ran for his sixth touchdown of the year for LSU.
South Carolina (1-3-1, 0-3-1), the league’s worst defense, had six sacks and, except for the Tigers’ final scoring drive, continually pressured Jamie Howard into mistakes and overthrows.
Howard completed only 10 of 24 passes in the second half and twice South Carolina linebacker Hank Campbell stopped LSU runners _ first Kevin Faulk, then Cleveland _ a foot from the end zone to end a third-quarter series.
It looked like Howard’s end was midway through the final quarter, when Maynard Caldwell tackled him for South Carolina’s sixth sack _ triple the amount LSU had given up its first four games.
But Howard, who suffered a slight concussion on Caldwell’s hit, steadied himself and his teammates with 3:59 left for LSU’s last drive. He hit passes of 16 and 9 yards to Eddie Kennison and 7 yards to Wilson before the TD.
``There was no panic in the guys heading into that last series,″ said Kennison, who caught nine passes for 129 yards. ``We knew we hadn’t been doing too much and we had to do something to win the game.″
But first-year LSU coach Gerry DiNardo quickly ended any thoughts of a miracle finish by going for one.
``I didn’t hesitate at all. I knew what I was going to do,″ he said. ``I thought our defense was going to get the ball back.″
They did, after South Carolina freshman Steve Florio missed a 53-yard field goal with 25 seconds to go. But LSU could not advance.
Duce Staley ran for 140 yards, 88 on South Carolina’s fourth-quarter scoring drive that ended on Reed Morton’s second field goal and put the Gamecocks up 20-13.
Steve Taneyhill, the conference’s leader in total offense, threw a 5-yard TD pass to Monty Means and South Carolina’s Stanley Pritchett ran for a 1-yard score, set up by Joe Troupe’s punt block.
LSU fumbled twice, was called for 10 penalties and managed just 90 yards rushing after gaining 154 yards a game coming in. The Tigers also left battered and bruised.
Besides Wilson’s injuries, Howard was groggy and in a neck brace afterward and Cleveland was on crutches with a sprained right thigh.
``We know we’re a good defense,″ said Caldwell, who had 2 1/2 sacks. ``Everybody was putting us down. All we had to do was come together. We went out there today and proved it to them.″
The Tigers defense, which was third in the league entering the game, also proved stronger in the second half. Linebacker Chuck Wiley had four of LSU’s seven sacks and South Carolina was held to 181 yards.
Taneyhill threw his SEC leading 13th TD pass to give South Carolina a 7-3 lead.