The Tigers had 24 seconds to regain the lead after a 20-yard runback of the kickoff and a holding penalty called on the Trojans spotted the ball on the LSU 42. A 28-yard pass from Ensminger to Robert Delee got the Tigers to the Trojan 30, but Safety Dennis Smith broke up two Ensminger passes in the end zone—and the LSU rooters' hearts.
The defeat was an especially trying one for LSU Coach Charlie McClendon, who at the end of this season—his 18th at Baton Rouge—is being fired as head coach, despite having won 70% of his games. In fact, it was only the return of Dietzel to LSU in the summer of 1978 that enabled McClendon to coach this year. The Board of Supervisors had given him the gate, but Dietzel worked out a plan to give his old friend one more season. Last year the signs around campus read "Help Mac Pack." But last week, what with the Tigers' start in which they had averaged 45.5 points a game, the sloganeers were testing a new one: "Bring Mac Back."
It was a finish that left everyone emotionally drained. It also left White in awe—again—of his offensive linemen. "I love 'em all," he said. "Everything seems to depend on them." Added Van Home, "When Charlie gets 185 yards, I know I had a good day." Which is not the same thing as a good night for the denizens of Tiger Stadium.