Zach Von Rosenberg ran out on the football field to celebrate LSU’s 36-16 win last year over No. 2 Georgia and shake hands with some of his teammates and opposing players.
Then the punter turned around and saw 20,000 fans streaming down bleachers, jumping over fences near the student section and onto the field by the north end zone. It was the first time Von Rosenberg had ever seen fans storm the field and been a part of a mob of crazed fans celebrating one of LSU’s biggest wins in recent years.
“I saw a bunch of people fall,” he said, remembering the sight of students struggling to make it over the waist-high fence separating the stands from the field. Eventually, a LSU official called for gates to the field to be opened to prevent any injuries.
As the celebration ended, players went to the locker room and fans walked out the tunnel with items such as grass from the field, end zone pylons and even the down marker.
Prior to the post-game festivities, Georgia entered as a 7.5-point favorite over LSU, who had just lost its first game of the season the week before to Florida. Quarterback Joe Burrow threw two interceptions in the fourth quarter and the Tigers fell 27-19 in the Swamp.
LSU’s first drive against the Bulldogs was a three-and-out, but the Tigers scored first with a Cole Tracy field goal on their next possession to take a 3-0 lead in the first quarter.
Georgia responded. Running backs DeAndre Swift and Elijah Holyfield combined for nine carries and 67 yards on the ensuing drive.
“Physical. Most physical game I’ve ever played in,” said senior defensive end Rashard Lawrence, who finished with five tackles and a sack. “Best offensive line, they don’t quit regardless of the scoreboard, well coached, and personally, I think they’re the best offensive line we’ll face this year.”
Once in the red zone, LSU’s defense held and forced a field goal which became the game’s turning point. Georgia ran a fake field goal that failed. Grant Delpit chased down Rodrigo Blankenship and forced a fumble which was recovered by Devin White.
“They tried to run our fake against us, which is kind of a slap in the face,” said Von Rosenberg, who is LSU’s field goal holder. “It didn’t work, and then we scored and all it takes a little bit of confidence and a little bit of belief.
“I don’t think we ever doubted our ability, but the huge momentum shift it was for them to have no points really changed the mentality of the game. We thought we could do something special, this could be a huge upset and honestly, we never looked back after that.”
LSU drove the field after the stop, and Burrow scored a 1-yard touchdown run on fourth-and-goal. LSU’s defense forced three consecutive three-and-outs and allowed one first down in the second quarter. The Tigers led 16-0 going into halftime.
LSU continued to build on its lead in the second half, forcing two turnovers deep in Georgia territory which led to Tracy field goals. Both Burrow and running back Nick Brossette added rushing touchdowns. Defensively, LSU held Swift and Holyfied to 13 carries and 61 yards after their earlier success.
The win didn’t come without a loss though. Defensive lineman Breiden Fehoko tore his bicep late in the second quarter against Georgia and missed the following game against Mississippi State. He tried to play through his injury against Alabama, but he eventually decided to have surgery and miss the rest of the season.
Now Fehoko gets another shot at Georgia in the Southeastern Conference Championship game in Atlanta on Saturday.
“I know we’re going to get a big boy matchup this week,” Fehoko said. “I’m looking forward to it in a different venue, I know Georgia fans come full throttle. They had the uppers [in Tiger Stadium] all red, I know this week in the Dome it’s kind of like a home game for them. I’m interested to see how we play this week.
Georgia returns four starters who played on the offensive line against LSU last season. The unit is led by left tackle Andrew Thomas, who is a projected top-10 pick in the 2020 NFL draft. Quarterback Jake Fromm and Swift return as well.
“I think the reason we won that game last year is because offense, defense and special teams, we threw the first punch and we threw the last punch,” Fehoko said. “And that’s how it has to be this Saturday.”