On a High Note
Freshman quarterback, defense dish out strong performance to fuel LSU thumping of Georgia Tech.
by Matt Moscona
Special to Tiger Rag
(At left, LSU freshman Jordan Jefferson shined in the spotlight Wednesday night. (Photo by Steve Franz)
ATLANTA, Ga. — With freshman quarterback Jordan Jefferson pacing a balanced offensive attack and a ferocious defense that has been M.I.A. all season finally showing it’s face, the LSU Tigers bid farewell to 2008 by dismantling No. 14 Georgia Tech 38-3 in the Georgia Dome and extending its record in the Chick-Fil-A Bowl to 5-0.
LSU opened the game looking more like the defending national champions and less like the 7-5 team the stumbled into the Georgia Dome losers of three of its final four games. Jefferson led LSU on a 60 yards march on the game’s opening drive to get on the board first. Jefferson was a perfect three-for-three on the drive, earning first down yardage with each pass.
“It was very exciting,” Jefferson said. “My adrenaline was pumping. I just wanted to put points up on the board.”
Charles Scott capped the drive by barreling into the endzone from two yards out, silencing a partisan Georgia Tech crowd and earning the Tigers an early 7-0 lead.
It looked like Tech would answer quickly. The nation’s third-leading rushing offense went to the air on first down when Josh Nesbitt found Jonathan Dwyer for a 40 yard catch and run. Tech went to the air again on the next play when Demaryius Thomas appeared to haul in the equalizing score when Tiger safety Chad Jones recovered to knock the ball to the turf. That would prove to be a major play as the Tiger defense would stiffen, forcing a Tech punt.
After a Tiger three-and-out, Tech would answer with a 13 play drive that netted a 24 yard Blair Field Goal to pull Tech within 7-3.
On the other sideline, Les Miles found his lucky rabbit’s foot while Jordan Jefferson and Charles Scott found their swagger.
After two penalties against Tech to open the second quarter moved the ball into Yellow Jacket territory, the Tigers needed just six plays to find the endzone again. Charles Scott barreled in from four yards giving LSU a 14-3 lead with 12:08 to play in the first half.
But the LSU offense was just getting started.
Miles would reach into his bag of tricks calling for an onside kick on the ensuing kick off, catching Tech by surprise. LSU’s Stefoin Francois pounced on the ball, giving the Tigers possession at their own 45.
After failing to move the ball, the Tigers would catch a break on the next play. Tech’s Andrew Smith fumbled Brady Dalfrey’s punt at the Tech 19 where Ron Brooks was waiting to fall on it. Tech coach Paul Johnson later called the fumbled punt the turning point in the game.
Charles Scott tied a Chick-Fil-A Bowl record with his third rushing touchdown of the game when he walked into the endzone behind the left side of the offensive line from one yard out. LSU led a stunned Georgia Tech 21-3 with 8:27 to play – plenty of time for the Tigers to build their lead.
Jefferson connected with Richard Dickson for his fourth reception of the first half and a 25 yard score. Keiland Williams would add the final score of the half, blowing through a paper machete Tech defense for 17 yards and a 35-3 LSU lead.
Chris Hawkins thwarted Tech’s last-gasp scoring opportunity when he intercepted Nesbitt’s pass inside the LSU 15. Tech was held to a meager 70 yards rushing on 16 attempts in the first half.
Linebacker Perry Riley earned defensive MVP honors after finishing with a team high 11 tackles. “We came out here fired up and ready to play. We played with an energy that we haven’t played with all season.”
The only scoring in the 3rd quarter came on Colt David’s 53 yard field goal – the longest in Chick-Fil-A Bowl history – which moved LSU ahead 38-3.
What few Tech fans remained in the Georgia Dome were given an opportunity to get off their hands when LSU faked a punt near midfield with Dalfrey finding Chad Jones for a 21 yard gain. Boos rained down from the rafters along with several hundred paper airplanes as Tech fans expressed their displeasure with the decision to fake a punt late in a blowout.
Tech’s players noticed as well. “The team was mad,” said defensive end Michael Johnson. “I just thought it was classless.” Johnson quipped, “Nice fake. What comes around goes around, usually.” Miles said after the game that it was the last game of the season and he had the “itch” to call it.
While Jefferson shined for LSU in his second career start, the night belonged to the LSU defense. The vaunted Yellow Jacket triple option rushing attack failed to reach the 100 yard rushing mark until the six minute mark of the 4th quarter. Tech finished with only 164 yards rushing on 40 carries.