Nov. 14, 2009
BATON ROUGE, La. - An injury-riddled Louisiana Tech team silenced the more than 90,000 fans at Tiger Stadium for the majority of the game, but in the end the 9th ranked LSU Tigers simply had a little more in the tank as they defeated the Bulldogs 24-16 Saturday night.
LA Tech (3-7, 2-4 WAC), which entered the game with 18 freshmen and sophomores on their two-deep due to a plague of injuries to key starters, played toe-to-toe with LSU until a Keiland Williams nine-yard touchdown run with 7:01 to play gave the Tigers some breathing room.
"If we had only played 30 minutes," said Tech head coach Derek Dooley. "I am obviously proud of how we came out. We played toe to toe with a great football team and a great program.
"We played with effort and played with toughness. We weren't affected by the environment and we didn't play in awe like two years ago. At the end of the day, they have a better team. They have more guys, and we ran out of guys and it got tough."
However, it wasn't easy for Les Miles and Co. against a Tech team which entered the game having lost three straight games by a total of 13 points, including a 10-point loss to 5th ranked Boise State last week.
In fact, the Bulldogs used some last second heroics in the opening half to send LSU into the halftime locker room trailing 13-10 under a chorus of boos from the homecoming faithful.
After driving more than 80 yards in over four minutes, Tech found itself faced with a fourth down and goal from the LSU one-yard line with only :02 to play in the second quarter. However, Dooley opted to roll the dice sending his offensive unit back onto the field.
With a three tight end set, quarterback Ross Jenkins started walking down the offensive line appearing to change the play. However, center Lon Roberts snapped the ball directly to running back Daniel Porter who ran up the middle before pulling up at the two-yard line and completing a Tim Tebow-esque jump pass over the mass of humanity at the goal line to tight end Dennis Morris who pulled down his eighth touchdown of the year.
"It's called `jump'," Dooley said. "It's a jump pass. It was a direct snap to Daniel and it looks like he is going to run it down the middle and then he jumps up and throws it. Dennis Morris made a great catch. It's something we've worked on all year and it seemed like the right time to run it."
The play capped a 13-play, 83-yard drive and gave Tech a 13-10 lead, the first lead by a Bulldog team over LSU since 1904.
"Went into halftime with the lead and we knew it wouldn't be easy in the second half," Dooley said. "We had an array of penalties in the third and fourth quarters that hurt us. It got tough. We ran out of guys. Porter was hurt. Livas was hurt. LSU did a great job of stopping the run in the second half. I'm proud of our effort but at the end of the day we didn't get the job done in the fourth quarter. I do think this gives us a lot to build on for the program."
Offensively, Tech dominated the opening 30 minutes racking up 14 first downs to LSU's six and outgaining the Tigers 229 yards to 138. The Bulldogs also ran 45 offensive plays to LSU's 20 while holding onto the football for almost 21 minutes.
However, the Tigers defense stiffened in the second half, holding Tech without any points until a Matt Nelson 36-yard field goal with :25 to play in the game cut the LSU lead to 24-16. The ensuing onside kick was unsuccessful as LSU escaped with the win.
LSU jumped out to an early 3-0 lead on a 35-yard field goal by Josh Jasper with 9:08 to play in the opening quarter, capping a nine play, 47-yard drive that was aided by a defensive pass interference penalty called on Josh Victorian on a third down and 20-play.
The Bulldogs wasted little time in responding as LA Tech kept to the ground, grinding out a 10-play, 45-yard drive that resulted in a 30-yard field goal by Nelson. The first eight plays during the scoring drive were rushes as freshman Tyrone Duplessis totaled 25 yards on four carries.
LSU answered, driving 79 yards on six plays and taking a 10-3 lead on a 38-yard pass play from Jarrett Lee to Brandon LeFell with 1:55 to play in the opening quarter. LeFell caught a short slant and raced untouched to the endzone.
After a nice stand by the Bulldog defense that forced LSU to punt inside their own 15-yard line, LA Tech marched 43-yards on 10 plays as Nelson added a 33-yard field goal with 5:39 to play in the second quarter, cutting the Tiger lead to 10-6. On the drive, Daniel Porter converted a fourth down and two with a power run off left tackle that kept the drive alive.
After another three and out by the Bulldog defense, Porter and Co. took over on their own 17-yard line and promptly drove down to the LSU one-yard line with :02 to play in the half. Instead of kicking a chip-shot field goal to cut the lead to one at the half, Dooley dug deep into the playbook and put his offense back out on the field as Porter tossed his first career touchdown pass.
After neither team was able to move the ball on their first possession of the second half, LSU drove 59 yards on nine plays and took a 17-13 lead on a three-yard run by Keiland Williams with6:59 to play in the third quarter.
The Bulldog defense was its own worst enemy on the Tigers scoring drive, allowing a successful third-and-18 pass play, getting a 15-yard personal foul penalty for a late hit, and being flagged for offsides after stopping an LSU ball carrier for negative yardage.
LSU took its biggest lead of the game with 7:01 to play as Williams recorded his second touchdown of the game, this one coming from nine yards out and giving the Tigers a 24-13 lead. The run capped an eight-play, 56-yard drive that was once again aided by a defensive pass interference penalty on the Bulldogs on a third down and long play.
"This was best in state team we've played," said LSU head coach Les Miles. "In fact LA Tech may be better than a year ago (when they won a bowl); they just don't have record to prove it. If they showed up in a bowl game, they would win it. It doesn't matter if you tell the guys that, they don't listen until you get into the game. We looked more like ourselves in the second half.
"I think LA Tech played a very strong game. They did exactly what they could do with their talent. Derek prepared his team well and he should be congratulated. Our guys gained a new respect for a lot of their guys. I give credit to them. I thought they played extremely well."
Freshman Tyrone Duplessis led Tech with 65 yards on 17 carries while Porter added 64 yards on 13 carries. Jenkins completed 16-of-31 passes for 143 yards and no interceptions while Myke Compton recorded five catches for 38 yards and Dustin Mitchell added five grabs for 37 yards.
Tech outgained LSU 322 to 246 while recording 23 first downs to the Tigers 15. However, 10 penalties for 100 yards were too much for the Bulldogs to overcome.
The 16 points scored by the Bulldogs were the most ever in the 19-game history of the series. It was also the most points LSU has given up at home this year, including games against top-ranked Florida and Auburn.
The Bulldogs return to action Saturday when they travel to face Fresno State, who lost 52-14 at Nevada.