ATHENS - An old-fashioned SEC defensive slugfest most of the game, Saturday's clash between No. 18 Georgia and fourth-ranked LSU turned into an offensive shootout in the last 4 minutes.
With the two teams combining for just 13 points until that point, they erupted for 20 in the final 3:54, and unfortunately for the host Bulldogs, the visiting Tigers posted 14 of them.
Included in those points was Charles Scott's 33-yard touchdown run with 46 seconds remaining, allowing LSU to escape with a 20-13 win before a sellout crowd of 92,746 at Sanford Stadium.
"It was a little fast and furious there at the end," Georgia coach Mark Richt said after the Bulldogs fell to 3-2 overall and 2-1 in the SEC. "The bottom line is, we didn't do enough to win it. We always believe we can win, even to the bitter end, but it just didn't happen."
It looked like it might happen, even after LSU (5-0, 3-0) finally found the end zone after struggling all day in the red zone on Scott's 2-yard dive to gain a 12-7 lead with 2:53 to play.
But Georgia quickly answered. A 46-yard completion from Joe Cox to Tavarres King for a third-down conversion set up Cox's 16-yard scoring strike to A.J. Green, which vaulted the Bulldogs back on top 13-12 with 1:09 left.
However, Green, who finished with five catches for 99 yards, was penalized 15 yards for excessive celebration after making a gesture to the crowd following the team celebration, according to a statement released by the SEC following the game.
And after Georgia missed the two-point conversion, it was forced to kickoff from its own 15-yard line.
Trindon Holliday took full advantage, returning the kick 40 yards to the Georgia 43-yard line, and an illegal formation penalty tacked on to the end of the play set up LSU at the 38 with just 1:02 left.
"(The officials) didn't say specifically what happened," Richt said of the call.
"They just said it was an (excessive) celebration penalty. They gave LSU the option of taking the penalty on the conversion or on the kick, and, of course, they took it on the kick - which was wise because field position was crucial at that point."
The Tigers capitalized on that field position. Not content to try to set up for a possible game-winning field goal, Scott - who had 99 yards on 19 carries for the day - broke two tackles and burst free for the winning score.
Georgia had one last chance after LSU was also flagged for excessive celebration, but linebacker Perry Riley ended that chance by intercepting a Cox pass at the Bulldogs' 44 with 21 seconds left to seal the win for the Tigers.
It was a disappointing end to what had been an otherwise solid day for the Georgia's much maligned defense, particularly in its own red zone.
Five times in the first half, LSU had penetrated Georgia territory - four of which ended up inside the 20.
And the Bulldogs gave up plenty of yardage in the first half - 236 of them, to be exact, compared to just 49 by its own offense.
However, they allowed only a pair of Josh Jasper field goals.
And when the half finally ran out with LSU inside Georgia territory for the fifth straight possession, the lead was still a mere six points despite the Tigers' lopsided advantage in yardage, first downs (12-1) and time of possession (20:42 to 9:18).
"We definitely had some positives we can build on," said Georgia linebacker and Brookwood grad Rennie Curran, who set a career high with a team-high 16 tackles Saturday. "I feel like we're growing as a defense. We're becoming better at executing, but we've got to do it every single play - every single down. It only takes one play to beat you, as you saw (Saturday)."
Still, thanks in part to the defensive effort in the first half, Georgia came out inspired in the second half.
Two sacks - one by Kade Weston and another combined by Jeff Owens and Justin Houston - led to LSU's first three-and-out of the day.
"I did feel a lot of momentum shift," said Houston, who had six total tackles and two sacks on the day. "Then the offense went out and did something."
The Bulldogs did do something on a drive that started late in the third quarter, and got a boost from the debut of running back Washaun Ealey.
The true freshman picked up 13 yards on the first three carries of his career, and Georgia picked up four critical third-down conversions to drive down to the LSU 2.
It looked like the 17-play, 60-yard drive would stall after Michael Moore was stopped on the 1 after a third-and-goal completion. Richt then rolled the dice and came up with a 7 as Cox faked a handoff and hit a swing pass to Shaun Chapas in the end zone, and after Blair Walsh's extra point, Georgia had its first lead of the game at 7-6 just 45 seconds into the fourth quarter.
But the lead didn't last, thanks to the wild finish.
"It was a game where a lot of good things happened that (were) good," Richt said. "But there were not enough good things that happened."