BATON ROUGE -- Second-ranked LSU ran for five touchdowns, passed for two more and held Football Championship Subdivision opponent Northwestern State to minus-4 yards rushing en route to a 49-3 victory on Saturday night in Tiger Stadium.
LSU (2-0), which ran for 175 yards and threw for 225, built a 28-3 lead at halftime with a 30-second drive in the final minute and never looked back.
The Tigers next face Mississippi State (1-1) on Thursday at 7 p.m. CT in Starkville, Miss., on ESPN. Northwestern State fell to 1-1 and 0-11 all-time against LSU.
Starting quarterback Jarrett Lee played the first half and was nearly perfect, completing 9-of-10 passes for 133 yards and a touchdown. Sophomore transfer Zach Mettenberger saw his first action at LSU, as he played the entire second half and was almost as impressive statistically. Mettenberger was 8-of-11 passing for 92 yards with a touchdown.
Wide receiver Rueben Randle had his second-career 100-yard game, as the junior caught five passes for 121 yards including a 43-yarder from Lee on the Tigers' first play from scrimmage. Odell Beckham Jr. added five catches for 40 yards, while Kadron Boone caught his first touchdown at LSU.
However, it was LSU's ground game which did most of the damage around the goal line. Michael Ford rushed for 72 yards on 13 carries with two touchdowns, while Alfred Blue added 53 yards and a score. Spencer Ware was used only six times, including touchdown runs of 1 and 6 yards in a span of 77 seconds during the second quarter.
Northwestern State struggled against the speedy LSU defense. The Demons totaled only 95 net yards, with 25 of those coming on a successful fake punt.
For the first time since Oct. 30, 1982, LSU held an opponent to negative yards rushing. Northwestern State had 27 attempts for minus-4 yards. LSU registered nine tackles for losses including one sack.
Starting quarterback Brad Henderson finished 16-of-26 passing for 74 yards and an interception. His backup, Don Canyon, had 25 yards passing on the fake punt. Wide receiver Justin Aldredge had a game-high seven catches for 58 yards.
The Demons won the coin toss and elected to take the ball to start the game. With first-time starter DJ Howard taking kickoff and punt duties for the Tigers, Northwestern State started its first drive from its 24-yard line.
The Demons gained six yards on third-and-5 for a first down, but went no further and punted to LSU's Tyrann Mathieu.
On the Tigers' first play from scrimmage, Lee connected with Randle along the left sideline for 43 yards to the Demons 24. After four-straight runs by Ford netted 20 yards, Lee found Peterson in the right corner of the endzone for a 6-yard touchdown. After Drew Alleman's successful PAT, LSU led 7-0 with 8:03 left in the opening quarter.
A 17-yard run and catch by Northwestern State wide receiver T.C. Henry put the Demons in LSU territory for the first time at the 38. The Tigers defense again stiffened, pushing the Demons two yards back before forcing another punt.
An 11-yard sack on Lee led to a quick three-and-out for LSU, and had Howard punting from the back of his endzone. The senior barely eluded the rush to get off a 36-yard punt that was downed at the LSU 40.
Henderson connected with Trevor Eickman for nine yards to the LSU 31, allowing Northwestern State to earn a first down on the next play. After three plays went nowhere, Northwestern State scored its first points in its 11-game history at Tiger Stadium. Jo Shaughnessy banked a 44-yard field goal off the left upright and through the goal posts, cutting the lead to 7-3 with 14:00 left in the half.
After a short kickoff designed to prevent a return, LSU quickly answered the score. Ford rolled off runs of 12 and 26 yards to the Demons 25 to open the drive. A 15-yard catch and run by Randle went to the 11 when his fumbled rolled harmlessly out of bounds near the goal line. On second-and-goal from the 1, Ware scored his third career rushing touchdown.
With 9:50 remaining in the half, LSU led 14-3.
Just as it did in the opening win against No. 3 Oregon, LSU's defense put the Tigers in position for a quick score. On third-and-11 at the NSU 19, LSU cornerback Morris Claiborne pressured Henderson, who tried to toss the ball to safety. However, LSU defensive tackle Michael Brockers laid out for the interception at the 15.
Two plays later, Ware walked into the endzone for his second TD in 77 seconds. LSU led 21-3 with 8:33 left in the half.
Another three-and-out drive by the Demons ended with a 37-yard punt by NSU's Nick Russo. With two players deep to receive, freshman Jarvis Landry caught the punt at the LSU 44 and returned 31 yards to the NSU 25. Mathieu was flagged for a dead-ball personal after the return, pushing the Tigers back to the 40. A 50-yard field goal attempt by Alleman was missed to the left.
The Demons went into their back of tricks after a sack by Mathieu and defensive end Sam Montgomery gave NSU fourth-and-9 at their 33. A pass from punt formation resulted in the longest play of the game for the Demons, a 25-yard catch by Aldredge from Canyon to the LSU 42. Once again, LSU's defense forced a turnover on downs with 50 seconds remaining in the half.
Starting from his 48, Lee led a furious drive to another touchdown before the half. An 11-yard pass to Beckham Jr. started the drive, followed by 10 yards to Ware and 27 yards to Randle to the 3-yard line. Ford finished its off with his sixth rushing touchdown, this from 3 yards.
With 20 seconds remaining in the half, LSU led 28-3.
Mettenberger saw his first action as a Tiger to start the second half, and the 6-foot-5 quarterback took little time to find his groove. He went 4-for-4 for 44 yards on the drive, including a 24-yard catch by Randle. Mettenberger setup a 7-yard touchdown run by Ford with an 11-yard pass to Beckham Jr., and LSU extended its lead to 35-3 with 12:39 left in the third quarter.
Later in the third quarter, LSU took over at its 43 and drove 57 yards in 10 plays for another rushing touchdown. Alfred Blue finished off the five with a 4-yard score to push the Tigers advantage to 42-3 with 2:36 left in the quarter.
The Tigers tacked on another score after a 15-play, 68-yard drive which took 8:20 off the clock. Mettenberger connected with Kadron Boone for a 19-yard touchdown, the first in each of the Tigers' short careers.
Attendance for the home opener was 92,405.
LSU vs. Northwestern State
Sept. 10, 2011
LSU HEAD COACH LES MILES
Opening Statement ...
"I liked the way our team played this game. I felt that we came out and played with intensity in all three phases. I thought the defense played like they're supposed to. No matter who came into the game, they played the same way. Offensively, I felt that we were more efficient than in the past at times. We threw the ball efficiently and caught it well. We had control of the situations and were able to run the clock out. We were able to do what we needed to do. I like how it went. I have to give credit to Bradley Dale Peveto because they are well coached. I think they are going to be a very good football team. They have a good defense. I felt their special teams did a good job. I knew that their special teams was going to run a fake on us. I told our team to keep an eye on it. I know this guy, and shoot I coached with him. Well Brendan Farrell did it to us. You talk about small victory; those guys had a small victory just so you know. I like their team. I like where we're at right now. It appeared to me that we did not come out with significant injury at all. In a short week, that is key. I told them at the end of this game that our challenge is really threefold. One, we play a talented conference opponent in a short time. The second challenge is the amount of time. We have to get a lot accomplished to be ready to play on Thursday. Three, we need to improve. That is where we're headed to do. Really that is our turn as we move to the next opponent. We did not play Brad Wing because he was a little nicked, and rather than have him play we decided to rest him. Ryan Baker sustained a penalty of play, and we withheld him from play today based on the rules violation. That is done."
On the offense ...
"I think Zach Mettenberger did good. He looked comfortable. He came in and made some nice throws. I felt like he handled the offense well. Jarrett Lee was eight-for-10 and Mettenberger was nine-for-11. We threw for about 200 and rushed for about 200. It was the right thing. If we were in any game that we needed to win, Lee could have played in the second half. It was always the plan for us, should we get the opportunity to give Mettenberger significant snaps to play him, and that is what we did."
On keeping the first offensive line in the second half ...
"It was meant to protect Mettenberger and so that he could be consistent. We wanted him to be as we expected to be."
LSU OFFENSIVE PLAYER QUOTES
On the offense ...
"Coach Miles stressed throughout the week that we have to play well on man-to-man coverage. I think we did a great job getting open and catching the ball."
On the short week leading to Mississippi State ...
"It's important that we go out and get this win. Knowing there is a short week, we still have to prepare like it's any other week. Just go out and play great football."
RB Michael Ford
On the switch between quarterbacks ...
"It was definitely comfortable. We practiced that. We practice like it's a game so when we go out there and play it's just like a game to us at practice."
QB ZACH METTENBERGER
On the game ...
"It was a great experience, being my first collegiate playing time. I threw a touchdown pass. I'm glad Coach called that pass for that situation. It went up big. You don't really expect to throw a touchdown pass, but it was a great experience and I'm looking forward to a lot more here."
On connection with receivers ...
"Me and Odell (Beckham, Jr.), Kadron (Boone), James (Wright), Jarvis (Landry) and basically all the young receivers, we have a thing because we run with the two offense. I think we just have a connection and we trust each other. If I threw the ball out there, I think that anyone of those guys could go get it."
LSU DEFENSIVE PLAYER QUOTES
On his interception ...
"I saw how soft the quarterback threw the ball, and I was able to get out of my block and reach out and grab it. I didn't want it to fall out of my hands so I just curled up. I didn't want to let it hit the ground."
On the team's mindset coming into the game ...
"We just wanted to dominate. We didn't want to take a day off. We played well last week and we wanted to come out and play even better and that was our mindset."
On the Mississippi State Game ...
"We have to turn it up one more notch. We have to keep turning it up each week. We have to just keep getting better on the field."
On Zach Mettenberger's performance ...
"I think he played really well. He came in when we needed him and he didn't let us down. When he came in for Jarrett Lee, Zach didn't miss a beat and that's how it is supposed to be."
On what they need to do to prepare for Mississippi State ...
"We need to get the game plan ready so guys can prepare and know what to do. There are certain things that Mississippi State does and we have to make sure we are ready for them."
On playing without Ryan Baker ...
"We worked together as team. Ryan couldn't make the calls on defense tonight, so we had to come together as a team and make sure everybody got the call."
NORTHWESTERN STATE HEAD COACH BRADLEY DALE PEVETO
Opening statement ...
"That is definitely the number one team in the country. They are a great football team. Class act. They have a great coach. Not a better place to play in the country than Tiger Stadium. I thought our team played hard. That is a heck of a football team. I'm proud of our guys for fighting to the end. They played extremely hard. Again, I would like to give a lot of credit to Louisiana State University because that is a great football team. There is no doubt about it. They showed it tonight."
On being a competitive football team ...
"There are a lot of times that you would watch us play and we feel like we belonged out there. And then there were other times that we did not. When you play a team with the quality of players of LSU you have to play flawless football in all three phases. They have a lot of weapons. They are very physical. They are a very fast football team. If there is a faster more physical football team in the country I would like to see it. I thought we had a great plan, a great week of work. Coming in here tonight I thought our guys were sky high, and I though we played as hard as we could play. Again, I will give a lot of credit to Les Miles, his staff, and their players. They were class acts, and they played extremely hard. They are a good football team."
On LSU's team ...
"They were pretty impressive on television and they are even more impressive in person. The speed is what you cannot really tell on video and on television. That is a fast, fast football team. They get edges that you do not think they are going to get. They are very talented, very fast, very physical. They are as physical a football team as I have watched in a long time. I was in this league for four years and I do not remember seeing a team that physical. They were physical; they are physical, and they play physical at all three phases. They are very good, very well coached and my hat goes off to them."
On what he takes from this game ...
"Every player on our football team can say they had a Saturday night in Tiger Stadium with their pads on. That is a real honor. I'll say the fact that I coached here, there is not a better football team in the world. It does not get any better than this. Our team got to come in here and experience Tiger Stadium, experience the crowd, the adrenaline, and big time Southeastern Conference football. That is quite an honor. I told our team no one gave us this. They earned this. We just did not wake up and show up in Tiger Stadium. They have earned this from what they have done their whole life preparing to be a football player, then going to college making their grades and working hard. This was an earned opportunity. It was not given to them. That is how we approached it. We wanted to come in here and call the game aggressive, play aggressive, and lay it all on the line."
NORTHWESTERN STATE OFFENSIVE AND SPECIALIST QUOTES
QB Brad Henderson
On playing LSU ...
"I had fun; I think we all had fun. We came in with a positive attitude. We came in to win. I give credit to the LSU defense tonight. I think we should've made a lot more plays on our end to keep them off the field."
On playing LSU ...
"You play a great team like that, and most guys don't make it out of there healthy. I just think we played pretty good, we played solid, and we kept the turnovers to a minimum. LSU just has a great defense."
TE Justin Aldredge
On playing LSU ...
"You can't take anything away from those guys; they're good, and you find that out when you're on the other side of the ball."
Attitudes of LSU players with their win over NSU ...
"They're just really classy guys; they handled it well. It can get pretty ugly when they beat you like that, but they were really classy about it. They are a good group of guys."
K/P John Shaughnessy
On his field goal ...
"To come back here and play where I've dreamed of playing my whole life and actually score is incredible. It's special also because I broke a bad tradition of not scoring in the stadium."
On playing LSU ...
"We played our hearts out. Everybody came to this game expecting and wanting to win. There's nothing in thinking we didn't have the opportunity to win. Our coaches called aggressive; we played aggressive."
NORTHWESTERN STATE DEFENSIVE PLAYER QUOTES
LB Yaser Elqutub
Opening statement ...
"First I would like to give credit; we all give credit to LSU. They are a great team, and they are who we expected them to be. We didn't come in here expecting to lose; we came in with a good game plan. The thing that we're going to see when we look back on film is that a lot of the times, if not all of the times, we hurt ourselves whenever something went wrong. That's something we're going to correct and take in for the rest of the season. The thing is if you're going to shoot yourself in the foot with a team like that they're going to capitalize, and they did 49 points later. Do I feel like we're a better team? Of course. Did we play hard? Yes, but it's a good learning experience for everybody, even for the young guys. They got some playing time. We're going to go from there and just take it as a learning experience and just build on it."
On LSU's Offense ...
"You couldn't tell the difference between their starters and their backups. In our conference you can tell. There is a great player, but every one of them were great and it wasn't overwhelming. We hung with them, and we know we did. They're just a solid team, big guys, very physical, very fast. So you had to be playing your perfect game, and if not you were going to get hurt."
MLB Derek Rose
On playing against LSU ...
"We all looked forward to it, playing against LSU. This is something everyone dreamed about, playing against the number two team in the nation. A well-coached team who has won national championships, this is what everyone dreamed of."