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Jefferson’s LSU career ends with tough night

BCS championship

POSTED January 10, 2012 12:14 a.m.

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Boos rained down from a corner of the Superdome dominated by purple-and-gold clad fans as LSU quarterback Jordan Jefferson trotted onto the field for a crucial third-quarter drive.
One more victory in the final game of his career could have made Jefferson the toast of Baton Rouge and completed a stirring story of personal vindication after an early season defined by trouble with the law and a four-game suspension.
Instead, his most memorable play was an unfathomable interception in a 21-0 loss to Alabama (12-1) in Monday night’s BCS title game, marking the first time LSU (13-1) had been held scoreless since the Tide did it to them in 2002.
LSU’s offense was even more inept than it had been in 9-6 overtime victory in Tuscaloosa. Every first down — all five of them — seemed like an epic struggle. Series after series ended with Jefferson taking a frustrated walk to the sidelined while punter Brad Wing trotted past in the other direction to send the ball back to the Crimson Tide.
LSU was outgained 384-92. The Tigers’ running game, which consists in part of Jefferson’s option runs, managed a meager 39 yards.
The quarterback had to beat Bama with his arm, but struggled to find open receivers down field.
He finished 11 of 17 for 53 yards and one interception that could have been far more costly than it was. Yet the play seemed to symbolize Jefferson’s night.
Unable to find a receiver, he began to scramble, then changed his mind, flipping the ball forward toward Spencer Ware just as the running back had turned to block. There might have been room to run if Jefferson had kept the ball tucked away and followed Ware. Instead, the ball floated right over the head of the unsuspecting Ware and into the waiting arms of linebacker C.J. Mosley. Jefferson immediately made the tackle, which left Mosley injured and also gave the Tide the ball on the LSU 27-yard line.
Only a missed field goal try prevented even more damage. Yet that only allowed LSU maintain a slim chance of a comeback — which was gone once Jefferson was sacked and fumbled on a critical fourth-and-long with a little over 6 minutes left and the Tide leading 15-0.
After that play, while the crimson colored sections of the stands went wild, the fans who had booed Jefferson quietly began to file out and many more were following after Trent Richardson’s 34-yard touchdown run a few plays later.
Jefferson was suspended because of his alleged involvement in a bar fight in late August. He was initially arrested on a charge of second-degree battery and suspended a little more than a week before the season was set to begin.
He was reinstated when a grand jury reduced the charge to a misdemeanor, but did not start until the 10th game of the season.
He continued to struggle intermittently, but with LSU winning the Southeastern Conference title behind a dominant defense and running game, Jefferson was never forced to beat anyone throwing.
When LSU was 13-0 and ranked No. 1, Jefferson’s 684 yards and six touchdowns looked more like the product of efficient and fittingly conservative quarterback play on a team that did not really need to throw much to win.
But when LSU’s running game got bogged down in the biggest test of the season, there was no answer in the passing game.
Jefferson had said just days earlier that if the Tigers beat Alabama on Monday, that his team would have to be considered the greatest ever fielded by LSU.
Instead, the Tigers’ pursuit of perfection ended in a shutout.


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