ATLANTA -- Playing in what's become its dome away from home, the LSU football team lived up to its defending national champion moniker. The Tigers dominated No. 14 Georgia Tech with the school's largest first-half output in bowl history to win, 38-3, on Wednesday at the Georgia Dome.
LSU (8-5), which lost 5-of-8 games to end the 2008 regular season, played a complete game and showed the nation what they're made of against the overmatched Yellow Jackets.
The Tigers improved to 5-0 in the Chick-fil-A Bowl and have not allowed a touchdown its past two appearances. Four of those wins came in the Georgia Dome, while LSU has a 3-1 record in the SEC Championship game also played in the arena.
It was the 700th win in the history of LSU football.
LSU took a 7-3 lead into the second quarter and added 28 points before the half. The game was all but over when the Tigers went to the lockerroom leading 35-3. The school's previous best half in a bowl was 34 points against Illinois in the 2002 Sugar Bowl.
Special teams plays and the again-redeemed Tigers' defense were key, as Georgia Tech (9-4) fumbled twice, threw an interception, and turned the ball over on downs four times as its run-oriented couldn't overcome the LSU advantage on the scoreboard throughout the game.
Falling behind, the Yellow Jackets had no choice but to attempt six fourth-down conversions, converting only two.
Starting for second time, LSU freshman quarterback and Offensive Most Outstanding Player Jordan Jefferson was nearly flawless in the first 30 minutes. After starting 11-of-12, he finished 16-of-25 passing for 142 yards including a 25-yard touchdown to tight end Richard Dickson that gave LSU a 28-3 lead late in the second quarter and sealed Georgia Tech's fate.
LSU’s rushing attack also lived up to its billing, as the Tigers’ All-SEC running back Charles Scott scored his team's first three touchdowns (2, 4 and 1-yard) and moved into second place in the school’s single-season rushing TD list with 18. Scott finished with 15 carries for 65 yards. The Tigers netted 161 yards on 35 carries.
Running back Keiland Williams added five runs for 42 yards and a 17-yard touchdown, while Jefferson had nine carries for 33 yards.
Dickson was Jefferson’s favorite target with five catches for 50 yards and a touchdown. Wide receiver Brandon LaFell had two catches for 26 yards, and had an 86-yard score called back in the fourth quarter.
LSU's defense also answered its critics, bottling the Yellow Jackets' potent attack. The three points allowed was the fewest allowed to a ranked opponent since its 2005 Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl win over No. 9 Miami (40-3), and it was the fewest scored by Georgia Tech in its bowl history.
Linebacker Perry Riley was named the defensive Most Outstanding Player after recording 11 tackles.
"I think the turning point in the game was when we lined it up and kicked it off," said Georgia Tech coach Paul Johnson. "We got outplayed. We got outcoached. It was a good beating."
Georgia Tech, which entered the game with 282.3 rushing yards per game, was held to only 164.
Yellow Jackets starting quarterback Josh Nesbitt was unable to lead his team into the Tigers endzone. He completed only 8-of-24 passes for 150 yards with an interception, while rushing 16 times for 62 net yards.
Atlantic Coast Conference Player of the Year, running back Jonathan Dwyer, ran 10 times for 67 yards to lead his team. Thirty-nine of those yards came on a fourth-quarter meaningless run. Running back Roddy Jones added nine carries for 32 yards.
The Tigers lost the coin toss, electing to receive the opening kickoff. LSU took possession at the 40-yard line when Georgia Tech placekicker Scott Blair's kick rolled out of bounds at the 5. Scott ran over a pair of defenders on the first play from scrimmage for 13 yards, a sign of things to come for the Tigers offensive attack that struggled mightily toward the end of the season.
Jefferson completed passes of 10 and 11 yard to wide receivers Jared Mitchell and Terrance Toliver. A 13-yard catch by Dickson put the Tigers in a first-and-goal situation at the Yellow Jackets' 9. Two plays later, Scott scored the first of three first-half rushing touchdowns from seven yards out.
LSU led 7-0 with 11:58 to play in the first quarter.
Georgia Tech, known for its spread offense and its triple-option running attack, went to the air on three of its first four plays. A 40-yard pass from Nesbitt to Dwyer out on a wheel route out of the backfield moved Georgia Tech into LSU territory at the 40. However, they were stopped and forced to punt from the 43.
Georgia Tech defensive end Derrick Morgan went untouched to sack Jefferson on the next possession and LSU went three-and-out. Georgia Tech took over at its 33 with 8:08 to play in the first quarter, and drove to the LSU 7 before being stopped. A 19-yard option run by Jones allowed Georgia Tech to cross the midfield line, and Georgia Tech overcame a first-and-25 with three-straight 10-yard gains to the LSU 13.
The 7:05 drive ended with a 24-yard field goal by Blair with 1:03 left in the quarter. Tech trailed 7-3.
LSU took advantage of a roughing the passer personal foul to move into Georgia Tech territory. A third-down conversion by Scott setup a 20-yard catch by Brandon LaFell from Jefferson. Jefferson then eluded a sack and tossed underhand to Scott for a 12-yard gain that setup a 4-yard touchdown run by the bruising back.
LSU led 14-3 with 12:08 remaining in the half.
Then, Les Miles and the Tigers went to the bag of tricks, and made special teams plays that turned the game into a blowout.
An onside kick by Josh Jasper was recovered successfully by Stefoin Francois at the LSU 43. Though the Tigers went three-and-out, Georgia Tech's Andrew Smith fumbled punt when hit by LSU's Patrick Peterson. Ron Brooks recovered at the Yellow Jackets' 24. Six runs later -- five by Scott -- Scott scored for the third time, this time from the 1.
LSU led 21-3 with 8:27 to play in the half.
"We have some pretty nifty special teams guys," LSU coach Les Miles said. "We felt like we needed to maybe steal some possessions and keep the ball away from their offense."
Trailing and going nowhere offensively, Georgia Tech elected to fake a punt on fourth-and-8 at its 22. Yellow Jackets' defensive lineman Derrick Morgan took the snap from an up-back position but was cut down by Brooks after a 2-yard gain.
Two plays later, LSU overcame a holding penalty when Jefferson hit Dickson for a 25-yard touchdown and a 28-3 lead. Dickson's fifth touchdown of the season came with 5:21 left in the half.
Georgia Tech gained only four yards and punted back to the Tigers. With 3:12 to play, Jefferson and the Tigers took over at Georgia Tech 42-yard line after an 18-yard return by Trindon Holliday.
Williams scored four plays later on his second 17-yard run of the drive, giving LSU its largest bowl output in the first half in history.
Georgia Tech's drive into LSU territory was stalled when cornerback Chris Hawkins intercepted Nesbitt at the Tigers 8-yard line.
The Tigers led 35-3 at the half.
LSU had two opportunities to pad its lead in the third quarter, but only managed three points.
After Tech was unable to convert on fourth-and-5 from the LSU 46, the Tigers drove to the Georgia Tech 2-yard line but were stopped on three attempts.
Later, LSU started at the Georgia Tech 22-yard line but was penalized for a chop block. Colt David hit a career-long and bowl-record 53-yard field goal for the first points of the second half.
LSU led 38-3 with 1:56 to play in the third quarter.
Early in the fourth quarter, an 86-yard touchdown from Jefferson to LaFell called back after offsetting penalties.
LSU vs. Georgia Tech
2008 Chick-fil-A Bowl
Dec. 31, 2008 – Georgia Dome (Atlanta, Ga.)
1. LSU’s game captains were 6 Colt David, 93 Tyson Jackson, 79 Herman Johnson and 45 Quinn Johnson
2. Georgia Tech won the toss and deferred to the second half. LSU received the opening kickoff.
3. Tigers extending their notable consecutive starts streak tonight were: LT Ciron Black (40), DE Tyson Jackson (40), LG Herman Johnson (36) and C Brett Helms (29).
4. LSU recorded the 700th win in program history today in its 115th year of playing football. The Tigers became the 12th school to earn 700 wins in NCAA Division I-A history.
5. LSU has now won at least eight games in nine straight seasons with its victory in the 2008 Chick-fil-A Bowl.
6. The Tigers are now 7-1 all-time in games held at the Georgia Dome. LSU is a perfect 4-0 in Chick-fil-A Bowls and 3-1 in SEC Championship Games held at the site.
7. LSU improved its all-time bowl record to 21-18-1 in 40 appearances. The Tigers are also a perfect 4-0 in bowl games under head coach Les Miles.
8. The Tigers also picked up their 17th victory against a ranked opponent in four seasons under Miles.
9. With Charles Scott’s 2-yard TD run with 11:58 to play in the first quarter, it marked the first time LSU had scored a touchdown on its first possession since Nov. 1 against Tulane.
10. LSU has scored at least 21 points in 33 of its last 34 games. LSU’s streak of 31 straight games with at least 21 points was snapped against Ole Miss on Nov. 22. The last time before that the Tigers did not score at least 21 points in a game was at Florida on Oct. 7, 2006.
11. By scoring 35 points in the first half, LSU set a school record for points in a half in a bowl game, eclipsing the 34 points scored in the first half of the 2002 Sugar Bowl against Illinois.
12. By scoring 28 points in the second quarter, LSU tied a Chick-fil-A Bowl record for points in a quarter. That number is also a school record for points in a quarter in a bowl game.
13. LSU has outscored its opponents by a score of 157-44 in four bowl appearances under Les Miles.
14. LSU has now outscored its opponents 103-6 in the last 10 quarters at the Chick-fil-A Bowl.
15. LSU has now played 10 quarters at the Chick-fil-A Bowl without allowing an opponent to score a touchdown.
16. RB Charles Scott tied a Chick-fil-A Bowl record for rushing TDs in a game with three in the first half. His effort ties the mark last achieved by Trent Green of Indiana in 1990. Three rushing TDs in a game is also a career high.
a. Scott now has 18 rushing TDs this season and a total of 28 rushing TDs for his career.
b. Scott is now No. 2 on LSU’s all-time list for rushing TDs in a single season with 18, trailing only the 19 rushing TDs set by LaBrandon Toefield in 2001.
c. Scott is now in sole possession of sixth place on the school’s all-time list for career rushing TDs after entering the game ranked No. 9 in school history. He passed Gary James (27), Harvey Williams (27) and LaBrandon Toefield (26) on the all-time list with his three rushing touchdowns on the night.
d. By rushing for three TDs in the first half, Scott became the first LSU player to rush for three TDs in one half since Domanick Davis accomplished the feat in the first half of the 2002 Sugar Bowl against Illinois.
17. PK Colt David connected on a career long 53-yard field goal with 1:56 remaining in the third quarter, marking the fourth time in his career that he converted on a field goal attempt of 50 yards or more.
a. David has now made 16 field goals this season and 54 field goals in his LSU career.
b. David scored a total of eight points in the 2008 Chick-fil-A Bowl to move into sole possession of No. 3 on the SEC’s all-time scoring list with 369 points for his career, surpassing the 368 points scored by Florida’s Jeff Chandler from 1997-2001.
18. QB Jordan Jefferson became the first true freshman to start a bowl game at QB for LSU since Herb Tyler did so at the 1995 Independence Bowl in Shreveport, La.
a. Jefferson completed his first nine passes of the game.
b. Jefferson’s TD pass to Richard Dickson in the second quarter was his fourth of the season.
c. Jefferson set career highs in attempts (25) and completions (16).
d. Jefferson was named the games Offensive MVP.
19. WR Brandon LaFell has now caught a pass in 28 straight games dating back to the 2007 Sugar Bowl versus Notre Dame.
a. By making two catches in the game, LaFell finished the season with 63 receptions to rank No. 8 all-time for a single season at LSU.
b. He also finished the season with 929 yards receiving to rank No. 10 all-time for a single season.
20. With his TD reception in the second quarter, TE Richard Dickson tied former Tiger Brad Boyd (1972-74) for the LSU career record for TD receptions by a tight end with 10. It also marked his fifth TD reception this season.
21. WR Demetrius Byrd has now caught a pass in 23 straight games dating back to last year’s Tulane game on Sept. 29, 2007.
22. CB Chris Hawkins picked off a Josh Nesbitt pass in the final minute of the second quarter for the third interception of his career and first since intercepting two passes in LSU’s 26-21 win over Auburn back on Sept. 20.
23. P Brady Dalfrey completed a 21-yard pass to S Chad Jones on fourth-and-5 late in the fourth quarter, marking Dalfrey’s first career pass completion and Jones’ first career reception.
"I really enjoy this team. This football team has achieved through struggles throughout the year."
On Jordon Jefferson:
"There were several times in this season that were different for Jordon. When we lost a quarterback...he really responded. The best thing is he’s a cool customer."
(talking about quarterback) “He played like a veteran. He’s young, but he didn’t play like it. I think we found ourselves a quarterback.”
“Football is football. The coaches said ‘Don’t stop, just keep doing what you’re doing.’”
“At first we just concentrated on stopping the dive. Once we did that we just took it from
“It’s a wonderful feeling to knock off a good team like GA Tech. Now we’re just looking forward to next year.”
LSU Quarterback - Jefferson
“Georgia Tech is a really good team so as an offense we knew we were going to have to execute and put some points up on the board.”
“I felt more prepared to execute the offense. I’m proud of my performance and the team’s performance as well.”
(asked about 2nd start as quarterback) “I respect Coach Miles and the coordinators and their decisions. When my opportunity came I had to do what I could do.”
“It felt good that the players and coaches felt confident in me and that the team played well enough to win the way we did.”
“It was very exciting. My adrenaline was pumping. I just wanted to put points up on the board.”
LSU Richard Dickson
(about Jefferson) “I thought he played well in our last game against Arkansas too. I’m so proud of Jordan and the way he stepped up.”
“We know we can do it. We can beat anybody, we just had to come out and put it all together.”
“Things didn’t go the way we wanted this year and people didn’t respect us. We wanted to come back and earn their respect.”
Charles Scott, LSU
“We just came out and played LSU football and did what we had to do to get the win.”
(on defense) “They just pinned their ears back and went after them. We’ve practiced really hard on defending the option and they did a great job out there and put the offense in a great position whenever we got the ball.”
Kirston Pittman #49, LSU
“The coaches had a great game plan. We knew it was going to start up front with the defensive line. Everyone went out and did their job and we got it done.”
“That’s team ball. The offense executed and did their job and we executed and did what we needed to do to put them in position to score. When you play good defense you have a chance to put your offense in a good position.”
Jordon Jefferson, #9, LSU
(on starting the game 11-12) "It’s the role of the QB to be cool in the pocket. I trust my line to give them the time. And I trust my receivers to catch the ball
"From day one I had to become a leader in order to be on the field. Even though the guys are a lot older than me I had to find a way to become a leader.