Eventual first-overall pick, JaMarcus Russell, would be introduced to the college football world in Baton Rouge on Sept. 4, 2004 as Oregon State paid visit to LSU for the 2004 season opener. When all was said and done however, it would be a kicker who made headlines and for all the wrong reasons in a 22-21 LSU victory.
Oregon State kicker Alexis Serna had missed two extra points on the night, but as the contest went late into the fourth quarter, it didn’t appear as though it would matter. The Beavers led the defending national champion Tigers, 15-7, with less than two minutes to play in the fourth quarter.
Russell had taken over for an ineffective Marcus Randall and the crowd at the place known as Death Valley was counting on a redshirt freshman to rally the Tigers who began their final drive of regulation at their own 36-yard-line. Despite a rough night, Russell was money when he had to be, leading LSU into the end zone in just four plays, capped with a 38-yard scoring strike to Dwayne Bowe. Russell was able to tie the game at 15 on a keeper for the 2-point conversion with 1:20 to play.
Russell would get injured in overtime and No. 4 LSU turned back to Randall, who gave the Tigers their first lead with a 5-yard touchdown scamper. Oregon State however, was not done.
Down to one play, the Beavers faced 4th-and-4 on their overtime possession. Quarterback Derek Anderson stood confidently in the pocket and delivered a 19-yard touchdown strike to Joe Newton that had seemingly forced a second overtime.
That was not to be.
Serna’s extra point attempt sailed wide right for his third PAT miss of the night and LSU prevailed. Anderson passed for 231 yards and three touchdowns in the loss. In his collegiate debut, Russell passed for 145 yards and two touchdowns. Bowe led LSU and all receivers with 103 yards on five catches.
Fortunately for Serna, then a redshirt freshman, his career would have a happy ending. With inspiration from a 12-year-old boy battling bone cancer named Austin Pierce, Serna would never miss another extra point.
When all was said and done, Serna finished his career with 80 made field goals in 104 tries. Serna would make four All-Pac-10 teams, including the first team twice and in 2005, became Oregon State’s only Lou Groza Award winner. The worst night of his college career came on this day 15 years ago.
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