LSU Tops Pesky State, 34-24
The Tigers take care of business against Mississippi State, but not in dominating fashion.
by Matt Reynolds
Tiger Rag Assistant Editor
(At left, Keiland Williams (Photo by Steve Franz/LSU)
In a week where several of college football’s top teams were dropping like the value of the U.S. currency , LSU was able to sleepwalk through a 34-24 victory over Mississippi State in front of a packed house at Tiger Stadium on Saturday night.
As No. 1 Southern California fell the way of the little man on Thursday night and Florida and Georgia were toppled in SEC slugfest earlier in the day, LSU may find itself around the top of the national polls when they are released tomorrow.
LSU (4-0, 2-0 SEC) was led offensively by the ever dependable rushing attack of Charles Scott, who continues to make his case for as the best running back in the SEC.
Scott pounded the ball 27 times for 142 yards and a pair of touchdowns. The juniors performance put him over the 1,000 yard mark for his career. Scott leads the SEC with 540 yards rushing to go along with his six trips to paydirt this season.
“In a week where a lot of college football suffers loss, we played to win,” LSU head coach Les Miles said.
While the Tigers came away with the win, Miles agreed that his team played a far from perfect game against a scrappy Bulldog squad.
Mississippi State forced two turnovers, an interception and a fumble recovery, on defense and accumulated 285 total yards against the Tiger defense.
“We would have liked to play better that we did, but I like what we did,” Miles said. “We were able to get our new quarterback (Jarrett Lee) alot more playing time and our veteran running back (Scott) had a good night.”
Lee, a redshirt freshman who blossomed during the second half of LSU’s comeback at Auburn a week ago, continued to look solid.
The quarterback was 18-of-24 for 261 passing yards and tossed a pair of touchdowns while throwing one interception.
LSU wide receiver Brandon LaFell was leading the SEC in receiving and turned out another pivotal performance. The redshirt junior caught seven balls for 100 yards on the evening.
Mississippi State opted to start junior Tyson Lee over sophomore Wesley Carroll, and the mobile Lee did a good job keeping the LSU secondary on their heels for the some of the contest.
Mississippi State’s Lee went 17-of-26 for 176 yards and a touchdown.
“Tyson had excellent practices all week and we thought he gave us the best chance,” MSU coach Sylvester Croom said. “But it’s obvious why they (LSU) are so highly ranked. They are an outstanding football team.”
LSU kicker Colt David had ten points (two field goals and four PAT’s) in the game, giving him 307 total career points. David surpassed former LSU running back Dalton Hilliard who was sitting at 302 points. The senior kicker from Grapevine, Texas is now second on LSU all-time scoring list, trailing only former running back Kevin Faulk, who is at 318.
Mississippi State started out quickly with a 58-yard return by senior Derek Pegues on the opening kickoff. Starting on the LSU 32, the Bulldogs were unable to gain a first down but took the early lead on a 42-yard Adam Carlson field goal.
On LSU’s first possession LaFell caught a long pass from Lee setup a 38-yard field goal by David to tie the game at 3-3.
On LSU’s next possession, a 20-yard sack and fumble by Lee moved the Tigers out of MSU territory. However, he overcame the second-and-30 situation with consecutive connections with LaFell of 18 and 14 yards.
With the Tigers facing a second-and-9 from the 20-yard line, LSU tight end Richard Dickson found an opening in the middle of the field and stretched toward the endzone but came up a yard short. Scott then bulldozed his way in for the 1-yard touchdown, giving LSU a 10-3 lead.
On LSU’s third offensive possession of the game, Lee’s found sophomore Terrance Toliver over the middle for a 31-yard strike for the talented sophomore’s first reception of the season and to setup four-straight plays by running back Keiland Williams that gained 30 yards to the 1-yard line.
On third-and-goal from the three-yard-line, true freshman quarterback Jordan Jefferson had his number called on a quarterback keeper but the swift freshman fell just short of the goal line. Scott then punched in his second 1-yard touchdown run of the evening, to put the Tigers up 17-3 midway through the second quarter.
LSU’s next two drives ended with two turnovers. Lee threw an interception and a rare carry by fullback Quinn Johnson resulted in a fumble that MSU recovered. Johnson’s fumble led to a Mississippi State touchdown. MSU runningback Christian Ducre scored from 5 yards out to cut the LSU lead to 17-10 with 2:20 to play in the half.
LSU scored on the first two possessions after halftime.
Scott put the Tigers in control of the game, pounding two 20-yard runs to the Bulldogs’ 11-yard line. On third-and-8 from the MSU 7, Lee found LaFell coming across the field and reached toward the goal line. The ball was jarred out of LaFell’s hand at the 1-yard line by Pegues but recovered in the back of the endzone by Dickson for a touchdown.
LSU led 24-10 with 9:39 to play in the third quarter.
Around the five minute mark in the third quarter, Mississippi State drove the length of the field on the LSU defense, scoring on a third try from the 1-yard line on a dive to the left by Anthony Dixon, which cut the Tiger lead to 27-17. The Bulldog drive was an 18-play, 74 yard clock eater that chewed up just over nine minutes.
In the fourth quarter, Lee hit Byrd streaking across the field for a 43-yard-touchdown grab that pushed the lead back to 17, 34-17, with 4:54 to play.
MSU added a meaningless touchdown after that when MSU’s Lee hit Ducre for an 11-yard-touchdown pass.
“Defensively, we made some mistakes,” Miles said. “These things are things we can fix. We’ll have some time to do that. Certainly, the spirit of this team is set to go into a two-week phase where we’re going to improve. We’re going to work on some things. We’re a very capable team from this point forward, but we have to play better than that, and that will be the push.”
LSU will have a week off, before traveling to “The Swamp” to do battle with Florida on October 11.