ATHENS, Ga. —For most of the day, it was a defensive struggle. Then, with the clock winding down, LSU and Georgia started trading touchdowns as though the defenses weren't even on the field.
The Southeastern Conference rivals combined for three TDs in the final three minutes, but Charles Scott scored the one that mattered most on a 33-yard run with 46 seconds remaining to give No. 4 LSU a wild 20-13 victory over 18th-ranked Georgia on Saturday.
"Our football team, if you turn your back on them, they will beat you up," LSU coach Les Miles said. "We have competitive men, and they like to play. I am so proud of them."
Next up: a showdown with top-ranked Florida in Baton Rouge next Saturday night.
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Scott appeared stopped at the line, hemmed in by at least three Georgia tacklers. But he stumbled out of the pack, putting down a hand to stay up, and didn't stop running until he got to the end zone.
"I played mad, with controlled rage," said Scott, who rushed for 95 yards on 19 carries after struggling in LSU's first four games.
Neither team reached the end zone through the first three quarters, but they sure made up for it in the fourth.
In the end, LSU (5-0, 3-0 SEC) benefited from an excessive-celebration penalty after A.J. Green came down with a brilliant catch to put Georgia ahead with 1:09 left. The Tigers got good field position on the ensuing kickoff and won it on Scott's hard-nosed run, which would have been a pass if those on the sideline had their way.
Quarterback Jordan Jefferson persuaded the coaches to let him hand off to Scott instead of putting the ball in the air. They were sure glad he did.
"I would rather give it to Charles and let him pound it in there," said Jefferson, who was 18 of 27 for 212 yards. "Charles is a big power back. I didn't want to pass it. That situation required a running play. I saw the hole, and once he hit it, I knew it was a TD."
Georgia (3-2, 2-1) will surely bemoan letting this one get away. The Bulldogs weathered the storm in the first half, trailing just 6-0 despite getting outgained 236-49 and managing only one first down.
LSU squandered two scoring chances from the Georgia 9 — one when Jefferson was picked off in the end zone, another when the Tigers were stuffed on fourth-and-inches.
Georgia took control in the third quarter, sparked by a hard-rushing defense that sacked Jefferson six times and the hard running of freshman Washaun Ealey, who gained 33 yards on eight carries in his first college appearance. The Bulldogs finally scored in the opening minute of the fourth quarter when Joe Cox tossed a 1-yard touchdown pass to Shaun Chapas on fourth-and-goal.
"I thought," Richt said, "they were also well within their celebratory rights."