BATON ROUGE -- LSU running back Charles Scott ran for touchdowns of 39 and 45 yards, and Trindon Holliday added a 92-yard punt return touchdown as the No. 7 LSU football rolled past North Texas, 41-3, on Saturday night in Tiger Stadium.
LSU (2-0), which had it's Sept. 6 game against Troy postponed due to Hurricane Gustav, returned to the field for the first time since Aug. 30. Tonight's game location and time was threatened throughout the week by Hurricane Ike, but remained unchanged after the storm looked to be headed toward the Texas coast.
Though slow-going offensively at times, the Tigers used the long touchdown runs to blow open a one-sided contest.
The Tigers' amassed 425 yards while holding the Mean Green to 199.
North Texas (0-3) averaged only 3.3 yards per play though it held the ball for more than 32 minutes. The Mean Green rushed for only 44 net yards on 18 carries, including a 17-yard run by leading rusher Cam Montgomery who finished with 33 yards.
Scott, who had 160 yards rushing and two TD's against Appalachian State two weeks ago, matched the scoring effort with a pair of first-half touchdowns. Scott carried the ball only seven times for 102 net yards, while backups Richard Murphy (36 yards) and Stevan Ridley (24 yards) earned most of their yards late in the game.
Starting quarterback Andrew Hatch finished 10-of-18 passing for 84 yards, but also rushed for a 7-yard touchdown. Fullback Quinn Johnson joined Hatch with his first career touchdown, a 5-yard run that capped the scoring late in the third quarter.
North Texas quarterback Giovanni Vizza tried not to spend a lot of time in the pocket against LSU's menacing front line, completing 22-of-40 passes for 149 yards. Wide receiver Casey Fitzgerald had a game-high 11 catches for 75 yards.
Two weeks worth of power outages -- and two category 2 hurricanes -- couldn't stop the Tigers from taking over the game early. However, the start was much slower than the Tigers hoped.
After a 39-yard yard touchdown run by Scott on LSU's first drive, the second drive looked to be a short-field touchdown after a Curtis Taylor interception and 37-yard return to the Mean Green 31-yard line.
Two incomplete passes by Hatch and an 8-yard completion to Scott left the Tigers in Colt David field goal range. The senior gave LSU a 10-0 lead with 7:55 left in the first quarter.
North Texas ran 22 plays in the first quarter to LSU's nine, and the Mean Green held the ball for 11:33 on the first 15 minutes.
On the first play of the second quarter, North Texas' 33-yard field goal cut the lead to 10-3.
Scott again electrified the football-starved crowd, breaking off a 43-yard touchdown run toward the north endzone. His second score of the game pushed the lead to 17-3 with 12:54 left in the first half.
North Texas earned a first down, but was forced to punt. A 59-yard punt by Truman Spencer was fielded by Holliday at the LSU 8-yard line. The world-class sprinter made one cut up the field and ran past the remaining defense for a 92-yard touchdown -- tying the second-longest in school history.
David added a 37-yard field goal as time expired to give the Tigers a 27-3 halftime lead.
Another long punt return by Holliday -- 59 yards this time -- setup Hatch's first career touchdown run from 7 yards out. LSU extended the lead to 34-3 with 7:17 to play in the third quarter.
LSU's longest drive of the night -- 10 plays, 75 yards -- ended with another first-career touchdown, this time by fullback Quinn Johnson who carried a North Texas defender over the goal line. The 5-yard touchdown gave LSU a 41-3 advantage with 1:46 left in the third quarter.
The Tigers return to action on Saturday, Sept. 20, when they travel to Auburn, Ala., to face the Tigers at 6:45 p.m. CDT. The game will be televised by ESPN.
LSU vs. North Texas
September 13, 2008
LSU Head Coach Les Miles
“I think our team will find that as we move forward, we’ll win games. I think the team we played will vie for their conference championship and will have an opportunity to do some things later in the year. I thought they played awfully hard. I give credit to Coach Dodge. I thought they were well prepared and well coached. They never gave up. They played hard from start to finish, and I saw that on film. Again, I think there is some credit due there.
“I like our team. We came in here, and we said that we were going to play for four quarters. We said that we were going to give opportunities to different guys to make plays and test us. I told our team that if I could have gotten a fifth quarter, I would have gotten a fifth quarter. We needed time. We needed to be out there. We needed our quarterbacks to have a two minute drive. We needed our quarterbacks to throw the ball on third down and medium. We needed to manage the game. We needed to get several different running backs carries. We needed to pressure and get our defense called against another spread opponent. We needed to get reps in two-deep. We needed to get Charles Alexander some snaps. I really think we got a lot accomplished in today’s game.
“I really enjoyed the different bits and pieces. Certainly, (RB) Charles Scott and the running game was pretty good in spurts. I like the fact we have balance. I know we can throw it and run it, and anytime you line up with an offense that can do that, it’s going to be much harder to defend. I think our defense is tough to move the ball against. I like our pressure package. I think we’re headed in the right direction there.
“Maybe the brightest spot was getting Trindon Holliday going in the punt. Let me tell you what he’s done. He’s worked awfully hard fielding balls, and he’s not only a better punt returner, but he’s a much better receiver. He has really acquired the skill of receptions, and I feel much more comfortable with him back in there. This was the big game for him, and it’s right in time. I look forward to him doing that again and again for us.
“That punter (Truman Spencer) that they had was a pretty gifted punter. He hit some deep balls. He made him catch some balls that frankly, one of which we wish he hadn’t caught. I told him, ‘Listen, I just want somebody to go back there and catch the balls.’ He went back there and caught it. I said, ‘No, I didn’t mean really inside the 10.’ I think that’s good. I think we’re better with him back there if we can continue that way. All and all, it was what we needed: improvement, a number of snaps and a victory.”
LSU Offensive Players
On finally getting to play in Tiger Stadium again...
“We stuck through the storm and had a tough week, but we stuck through it. We practiced hard and we came to play today.”
On rushing for over 100 yards...
“I feel the game is coming to me a little better and it is slowing down a little. The real test will be next week when we play Auburn. I hope to do just as well.”
On playing tonight for the first time in two weeks...
“It was great to finally get to play again. We have been playing against ourselves for a couple weeks and it was nice to play an opponent tonight.”
On returning punt for touchdown...
“It was a great feeling. Chad Jones was supposed to be returning the punt, but they told me to be ready to go. I saw the hole and I went for it”
QB Andrew Hatch
On how he feels the team is progressing...
“I think we had a great week in preparation. We did a lot of good things. We will continue to improve on what we did today. Our offensive line and running backs did a great job as well. The offense did great. We will continue improving.”
LSU DEFENSIVE PLAYER QUOTES
On another dominating performance in Tiger Stadium...
“It’s a dream come true. I’ve been waiting for a year to get back into Tiger Stadium. There were a lot of emotions running through me before the game. I shed tears of joy because of the past year. I’m ready to have a dominating performance in Auburn.”
On how he feels after the game...
“I feel pretty good we got North Texas over with and I’m ready to have a great performance against Auburn next week.”
On playing Auburn on the road...
“Since I’ve been at LSU we’ve come up short twice against Auburn. It’s one of my big goals this season to win for the state of Louisiana.”
On how it feels to play again...
“It feels good to play again in front of all the fans. I was nervous about hurricane Ike, but we got all the storms out the way and that’s a great relief.”
On the progression of the defense...
“I really like the progression of the team. We have seen two different offenses and have done well against both.”
On playing Auburn...
“I’ve been really looking forward to playing next week’s game. It’s my last chance to beat Auburn on their own turf. I think it’s going to be a really good fight.”
NORTH TEXAS HEAD COACH TODD DODGE QUOTES
On Hurricane Ike affecting Texas...
“About the time we might want to start feeling sorry for ourselves, we realize that LSU has been dealing with [Gustav’s effects] for three weeks. I’m sure that Coach Miles and his team have had to deal with a lot more than we have. I’m just praying for my home town of Port Arthur. I don’t know what it looks like right now. My sister lives in Houston. She is alright and rode the storm out last night. All of us were checking on family last night, staying up late and watching it.”
On if this was a typical offense or one prepared especially for LSU...
“It is our offense. We try to spread the ball to different people. Against a team like LSU and their great front, we had to get the ball out of our hands in a hurry. Our game plan was when we had favorable numbers in the box, try to run the ball. When we got clean completions in our no huddle offense, take them and don’t pass them up. We had a plan to do a few more jail break screens; we did that a little bit early. Quick passing game and those jail break screens, you use those as a run game, trying to get the sticks moving. At times we were able to do that. We got behind the chains with some penalties as the game went on. This is just a very talented bunch. They started bringing the heat the second half. It was really effective in our run game as much as it was in our pass game. Their defensive front is unbelievable. Those guys they roll in there are v very impressive.”
On playing LSU ...
“They really executed the coverage we saw them in against Appalachian and what we had on them from last year. I think their nice adjustment was in the second half to start bring No. 3 [Chad Jones] off the edge a little more. They spun down to a little more man free. We could have pitched and caught a little better at times. I thought my young quarterback was courageous tonight. I thought my offensive line. I thought my young quarterback [Giovanni Vizza] was courageous tonight. We threw it 43 times and didn’t give up a sack so that is encouraging, against that front.”
On the words of advice he gave to his team...
“The first thing you tell your team is that you are very proud to be their head coach. We are very proud of our young men and the way they came in. We tried to break this game into 17 play increments. The reason we do that is a typical Division I game is 70 snaps for each game. I had someone charting tonight. That’s what we have to do as a team whether against LSU or our confer4ence. At times in the first half we did a good job. The thing that really broke it open was LSU’s punt return. We have a guy that has a tremendous leg, but you talk about outkick your coverage. We just didn’t have anyone that could handle No 8 [Trindon Holliday]. The plan going in was to kick away from him. As the game went on we started executing that, but it was too little too late.”
North Texas Offensive Player Quotes
Giovanni Vizza, QB
On what he took away from this game ...
“We definitely got better as a team. We had a lot of drives where penalties hurt us, but all in all I think we improved.”
On if he ever felt the game was out of control ...
“I feel like the first half we were in control. We played well in the first half. We were able to keep the pressure off. I never felt that we were not in control.
On the LSU defense ...
“LSU definitely has a great defense. They’re the defending national champions, but I feel like we sill played well.”
On running quick pass routes against LSU’s secondary ...
“It was part of our offensive game plan, to get off the line and get ahead of the chains. We always, against any team we play, try to take what the defense gives us. LSU has great corners, but I think it was part of our game plan coming in and the coaches saw something they thought we could take advantage of so we did it.”
NORTH TEXAS PLAYER QUOTES
Junior Linebacker Tobe Nwigwe
On North Texas’s defensive mindset
“I feel like we have pretty good defensive backs, but we have some breakdowns of defense. A lot of times tonight we beat ourselves. Offense goes to LSU. LSU’s a good football team.”
On LSU quarterbacks...
“Their quarterbacks are young. They haven’t really gotten well acquainted the system of being able to look people off and things like that, but they’re a good football team.”
On keeping team optimism and moving forward...
“As a competitor, it hurts a little bit. You want to win every game, and every game has a lesson you learn. You have to keep moving. We want to win.”