BATON ROUGE, La. – Tyrion Davis-Price rushed for an LSU-record 287 yards and three touchdowns, and the Tigers’ banged-up defense came up with four interceptions in a 49-42 victory over No. 20 Florida on Saturday.
The stirring performance produced thunderous roars from a Death Valley crowd that came in with low expectations after unranked LSU (4-3, 2-2 Southeastern Conference) had dropped its previous two games against Auburn and Kentucky, fueling speculation coach Ed Orgeron's hold on his job was tenuous at best.
After Damone Clark's interception of Florida quarterback Anthony Richardson, Davis-Price literally and fittingly ran out the final 1:59 on Florida (4-3, 2-3). Price ran for two more first downs and broke the previous LSU single-game rushing record of 285 yards by Derrius Guice.
Max Johnson passed for 133 yards and three touchdowns — all to Jaray Jenkins. The last one came on fourth and goal with 3:30 left.
The highlight-filled game, replete with big plays, wild momentum swings and even a converted Hail Mary pass by Florida at the end of the first half, was just the latest chapter in a rivalry that has produced high drama and unpredictable outcomes.
Last season, LSU pulled out a late and unlikely victory on Cade York's 57-yard field goal through fog at the Swamp after a Florida defender helped extend the winning drive with a penalty for throwing an LSU player's shoe. The Gators spent the past week talking about how they were focused on not beating themselves again this time, but they hurt their own cause again with turnovers.
Emory Jones threw two interceptions, including one returned by Dwight McGlothern 37 yards for a touchdown on the Gators' first series of the second half. Earlier, Jones' deflected pass was intercepted by linebacker Micah Baskerville and returned 54 yards to the Florida 28, setting up Johnson's first scoring pass to Jenkins.
Richardson was intercepted by Ward on the first play of Florida's next series, leading to Johnson's 5-yard TD pass to Jenkins to make it 21-6.
Florida appeared to be regaining momentum on the final play of the first half, when Jones heaved a Hail Mary pass from 42 yards out that was caught by Justin Shorter between three Tigers defensive backs to cut LSU's lead to 21-13.
But McGlothern provided a measure of redemption with his pick-six on the opening series of the third quarter. That was the first of four TDs scored in a span of 6:13, including Richardson's 5-yard run, followed by his run for a 2-point conversion, David-Price's 40-yard run and Richardson's 5-yard pass to Shorter.
Florida then tied it at 35 on Richardson's 11-yard pass to Dameon Pierce with 3:45 left in the third.
After Davis-Price's 25-yard scoring run and Richardson's pinpoint, 33-yard scoring pass to Jacob Copeland, the score was tied again at 42 with most of the fourth quarter still remaining.
Florida: The Gators came in favored by 11 1/2 points by FanDual SportsBook. But four turnovers and a surprising inability to defend LSU's running game not only led them to their third conference loss but also likely knocks them out of the AP Top 25.
LSU: The Tigers have made significant strides running the ball. After rushing for a season-best 147 yards in a loss at Kentucky on Oct. 9, LSU still ranked 125th nationally with 83.3 yards per game. The Tigers rushed for 321 yards against a Florida defense that came in allowing 108.5 yards rushing per game. LSU's defense also had its interceptions and two sacks without their top two cornerbacks (Derek Stingley Jr. and Eli Ricks) and two of its better pass rushers (Ali Gaye and Andre Anthony).
Florida gets next weekend off before meeting Georgia in Jacksonville on Oct. 30.
LSU visits No. 13 Mississippi on Oct. 16.
More AP college football: https://apnews.com/hub/college-football and https://twitter.com/AP_Top25 Sign up for the AP’s college football newsletter: https://apnews.com/cfbtop25