BATON ROUGE -- Without four offensive starters, No. 9 LSU used running back Keiland Williams to the tune of 116 yards and two touchdowns as the Tigers defeated Louisiana Tech, 24-16, on Saturday night in Tiger Stadium.
LSU (8-2) came alive defensively in the second half, holding Louisiana Tech (3-7) to 93 yards of total offense after giving up 229 in the first half and trailing at halftime, 13-10.
Williams shouldered the load for LSU and handled the job well after running back Charles Scott's regular season ended last week with a collarbone fracture. Behind Williams in the Tigers backfield, Stevan Ridley added 26 yards on eight carries while freshman Russell Shepard ran four times for 24 yards.
Starting in place of injured Jordan Jefferson, LSU quarterback Jarrett Lee fnished 7-of-22 passing for 105 yards with a 38-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Brandon LaFell in the first quarter. LaFell had a team-high two catches for 54 yards, while tight end Richard Dickson missed his second-straight game. First-string center T-Bob Hebert also missed the game, and Patrick Lonergan started in his place.
Louisiana Tech starter Ross Jenkins completed 16-of-31 passes for 143 yards. Running back Daniel Porter tossed a 1-yard touchdown pass on the final play of the first half and added 64 yards rushing. Tyrone Duplessis led the Bulldogs with 65 yards on 17 carries. Myke Compton caught five passes for 38 yards, while Dustin Mitchell added five receptions for 37 yards.
Louisiana Tech outgained LSU, 322-246, while holding the ball for 36:20. However, the Bulldogs committed 10 penalties for 100 yards, were sacked five times and punted six times.
After forcing Tech to punt on the opening possession, the Tigers put points on the board after a nine-play, 47-yard drive. On third-and-20, the Bulldogs were called for pass interference even though LSU wide receiver R.J. Jackson caught an 18-yard pass from Lee. The automatic first down helped the Tigers move into the redzone, where the drive stalled on two imcomplete passes.
Josh Jasper made a 35-yard field goal with 9:08 left in the first quarter to give the Tigers a 3-0 lead.
Louisiana Tech answered with a field goal of their own on the ensuing drive, advancing to the LSU 13. Matt Nelson hit a 30-yard attempt to tie the game at 3-3 wioth 4:23 left in the quarter. Duplessis ran for 25 yards on the drive.
LSU regained the lead with a quick 79-yard drive that included a 14-yard catch by tight end Mitch Joseph and a 25-yard run by Williams. Lee finished the drive with a 38-yard catch and run by LaFell, who dived into the endzone from three yards out.
LSU led 10-3 with 1:55 left in the quarter.
In the second quarter, the teams traded punts before Louisiana Tech marched 43 yards in 11 plays to cut the lead to 10-6 with a 33-yard field goal by Nelson. Porter converted a fourth-and-2 at the LSU 39 and then caught a 16-yard pass from Jenkins to setup the attempt.
The Tigers offense went three-and-out for the second-straight time, and Louisiana Tech took over with 4:32 left.
The Bulldogs again worked their way into LSU territory with a variety of running plays. Catches of 11 and 16 yards by Morris and Dustin Mitchell gave Tech a first-and-goal at the 7. On fourth-and-2, from the 1-yard line, Porter shifted behind center, took the snap and stepped toward the line of scrimmage. He then pulled up and threw a jump pass to Morris for a touchdown as time expired in the half.
Tech's 13-10 halftime lead was believed to be the first time LSU has trailed the Bulldogs since 1904.
Williams opened the second half by giving the Tigers a 16-yard run to the LSU 46, but two incomplete passes by Lee forced Derek Helton to punt from the LSU 49. LSU's defense took the field and forced a quick three-and-out.
Starting at their 41, the Tigers overcame a personal foul by Lyle Hitt when Lee completed a 19-yard pass to wide receiver Chris Mitchell on third-and-18. Williams added runs of 12 and 4 yards, and 15 yards were added to the second run for a personal foul on Louisiana Tech. Lee again connected with LaFell for a 16-yard gain to the Bulldogs 3-yard line where Williams scored his first touchdown.
With 6:59 to play in the third quarter, LSU led 17-13.
Five-straight drives ended in punts as the game entered the fourth quarter.
Williams and Shepard then helped the Tigers put the game out of reach with the running game. Deep in Louisiana Tech territory, Shepard peeled of consecutive runs of 14 and 3 yards before Williams scored from the 9 by bouncing off the left end and beating the defenders to the goal line.
Jasper's PAT put LSU ahead 24-16 with 7:01 remaining.
A sack by LSU defensive tackle Al Woods on the ensuing possession forced the Bulldogs to attempt a fourth-and-6 from their 40. Jenkins' pass to Dustin Mitchell fell incomplete and the Tigers took over.
Ridley ran on three-straight plays and came up a yard short of the first down. Jasper came on to attempt a 49-yard field goal, however, Helton fumbled the short snap and was tackled behind the line of scrimmage. The Bulldogs took over with 3:18 left.
Louisiana Tech advanced to the LSU 10, but settled for a field goal when Jenkins was hit by LSU defensive end Rahim Alem and fumbled. Jenkins recovered at the 19, and Nelson entered to convert a 36-yard field goal attempt with 25 seconds to play.
The Bulldogs' onside kick rolled out of bounds near midfield and the Tigers ran out the clock.
LSU vs. Louisiana Tech
November 14, 2009
LSU HEAD COACH LES MILES
“I think we did not play sharp certainly. I didn’t like how the defense started the game. Offensively, we had some opportunities to make some big plays, and we didn’t. We started a new center (P.J. Lonergan), a second-team quarterback (Jarrett Lee), operated with new running backs and slugged through a victory. Certainly I enjoyed the finish and the numbers. I do not like how we played. I think we can play better. I think we hit some big passes and distanced ourselves from our opponent, but I’m happy Keiland Williams came to life. That’s what he’s supposed to do. One guy goes down, and the next guy steps up and plays big. He had 116 yards. We couldn’t get him the ball enough. I felt like P.J. Lonergan played pretty well at center. The guy steps in for our starter (T-Bob Hebert) at center and plays pretty well.
“Defensively, it looked like our defense in the second half. In the first half, we kind of felt like they felt like we weren’t going to be tested. I kept trying to tell them that this is the best in-state team that we’ve played. In fact, they may be better than they were a year ago. They just don’t have the record to prove it. If they showed up in a bowl game some place, they’d win a game in the bowl. As much as you tell them to get ready, they don’t quite understand it until they get into the game. In the second half, that defense looked like it was supposed to. It seemed like they were pressing and not playing well in the first half, but in the second half, they made tackles and looked like our defense that’s supposed to play.
“I hope we get some guys back healthy. I hope our tight end (Richard Dickson) returns to health and certainly our quarterback (Jordan Jefferson). I liked the participation by both Williams and (Stevan) Ridley. It looks like we built some depth in the offensive line. We aren’t perfect in any way. That’s something that I want to repeat, but there were some positives. We have to clean them up and get ready to go because this next one is going to be a little bit more difficult. We are going to have to play a much better football team. We are going to have to play better to win.”
On his grade for QB Jarrett Lee...
“Honestly, Jarrett Lee is a very talented thrower. He’s a very good passer, and if he potentially hits a couple more balls there, we score two more touchdowns. I think he expected more, but I think there were some positives in the fact that he managed the game a little bit better. It’s interesting. It was his first real play this year. What will always happen is he’ll reconcile some of the mistakes that were made and live to play again. I think he can play better.”
LSU OFFENSIVE PLAYER QUOTES
On the absence of Charles Scott in the backfield ...
“Throughout the week at practice we talked about what Charles (Scott) brought to this team, just his physical play, and that was something that Stevan Ridley and I wanted to do. We prepared for that all week and it showed. We could’ve been better at times, but I think we did a good job.”
On being a leader ...
“Last year we lost a close game and the season went downhill after that. That was something we talked about last week, how the leaders need to step up and not let things go south and realize we still have a lot to play for. That’s something that all the seniors and leaders on the team wanted to do.”
On next week’s game against Ole Miss ...
“Ole Miss always plays us hard. We know they are going to bring their ‘A’ game, so we have to come in and prepare well and get ready to play next week.”
On the running back performance without Charles Scott ...
“We came in ready to run the ball hard and get big runs. We still have a little bit of work to do going against an SEC opponent next week. I think the offensive line made a step in the right direction. There are some things we can work on, but I think we’re moving in the right way.”
On the play of Louisiana Tech ...
“Louisiana Tech was playing hard. They didn’t come in here and lay down, and we didn’t expect that from them. They played Boise State really close last week, and they came in here and really impressed us with how they played.”
LSU DEFENSIVE PLAYER QUOTES
DT Al Woods
On Louisiana Tech’s performance at tonight’s game...
“I think they played well. They came out with an excellent game plan. We play very aggressive up front on defense. They found ways to try to get us nervous or rattled and tried to get us out of our gaps. We came out for the second half and calmed down and played our ball. We executed like we were supposed to and came out with a great victory.”
On ability to adjust and stop the front...
“With every defense you have to learn to adjust on the run and take coaching as it comes. We have to go out there and execute and just play ball.”
On finishing the season strong...
“We’re going to come in on Monday and watch film and practice and get ready for Ole Miss. That’s our next opponent, so that’s what we will look forward to.”
On playing Ole Miss in Oxford next weekend...
“I’m looking forward to it. It’s going to be a rough crowd, but if we just get on them early and keep them down, it’s always going to be effective.”
On first quarter performance...
“We had missed tackles. We did a lot of arm tackling and expected people to go down, but that just didn’t happen. We made adjustments. Our team got more physical.”
On the ‘hangover’ from last week’s game against Alabama...
“We haven’t talked about it all week. It wasn’t a hangover game. We pushed it out of our minds. That game is done and over. We’re looking forward to our next opponent. We played Louisiana Tech today. We focused on them, and it turned out pretty good.”
LOUISIANA TECH HEAD COACH DEREK DOOLEY QUOTES
Opening statement ...
“I was proud of how we came out in the first half. We went toe-to-toe with a great football team. We ran the ball as well as you could run it against them. We hit a couple of throws and really had a masterful drive to end the half. We went into halftime with the lead. We came out for the third quarter and at the end of the day had an array of penalties late in the third and in the fourth that hurt us. The holding penalties, and a pass interference (call) on third and twelve, and then we missed a tackle that allowed LSU to pull away. It got tough. We ran out of guys. Daniel Porter and Phillip Livas were hurt, and it just got tough down the stretch. LSU did a good job of stopping the run in the second half. The more we can’t run, the more limited we got. I’m proud of the effort, but at the end of the day we didn’t get it done in the fourth quarter. There is a lot to build on for the program, but I hate for the seniors that the results are what they are. I believe there are a lot of encouraging signs for the program.”
On the scoring drive before the half ...
“It’s called jump, and it is a jump pass. It was a direct snap to Daniel that looks like we are going to run it down the middle, then we jump up and throw it. I’m not sure what kind of pass it was, but Dennis Morris made a great catch. It is just something we’d worked on all year, and it seemed like the right time to call it.”
On if he feels Louisiana Tech played its best ...
“It is hard to say we didn’t. We are going to watch the film, and I told the team we are going to look and kick ourselves for the number of mistakes we made, especially in the second half. We missed a couple of easy throws, had some balls batted, missed the tackle on the touchdown run, but our best was our effort. We played with effort. We played with toughness. We went toe to toe, and we weren’t affected by the environment like we were two years ago. We weren’t playing in awe of LSU, and I think those are great steps. At the end of the day, they have a better football team than we do; they have more guys. We ran out of guys, and it got tough on them out there.”
LOUISIANA TECH OFFENSE PLAYER QUOTES
TE Dennis Morris
On if he is typically the intended receiver on the play he scored on...
“It was a trick play, and we just wanted to execute it. The ball is mainly supposed to go to me.”
On how often the jump pass works in practice...
“It works pretty much every time. We get the defense on their toes and catch them off guard with the trick play.”
RB Daniel Porter
On what allowed them to be so successful in running the ball...
“We saw a lot of breakdowns in the defense when we watched film. We saw a lot of overpursuit, which is why we ran a lot of plays to the outside. Whatever we needed to get the job done, we had to do.”
On throwing the touchdown on the jump pass play...
“We practiced that all week. I was ready for that. It’s very exciting. I was excited, and I know Dennis Morris was excited. We did a really good job of executing the play.”
On if he’s proud of the way they played...
“I think we gave it our all. We didn’t get the result we wanted, but I’m still proud of the result. We’ll just go from there.”
LOUISIANA TECH DEFENSIVE PLAYER QUOTES
DT Mason Hitt
On their preparation for the game ...
“We prepared real hard this past week. We didn’t look at it as ‘Let’s just go there and play hard and do our best.’ We looked at it as ‘Let’s go down there and make a name for ourselves.’ We were just trying to overcome our adversities and play our best.”
On how the team felt going into halftime with the lead ...
“It was a good feeling. We knew we would have to play two halves. It was exciting to be in that spot, but we didn’t hold onto it the whole game.”
On what it was like playing against his brother ...
“It was a lot of fun. We knew it would be a real special game for us going head to head. He got the best of me sometime, and I got the best of him sometime. He is a real good player, and it was a privilege going against him.”
DT D’Anthony Smith
On how they prepared for LSU’s two quarterbacks ...
“It is a whole different team when either Lee or Jefferson is in the game. When Jefferson is in he is a threat running and passing the ball whereas Lee is kind of one dimensional in a way. It is two different styles of play, but we didn’t know Jefferson wasn’t going to play until game time.”
On losing their last four games ...
“The last four games have been heartbreakers, but we have come together over those four games. Even though we are not getting the outcome that we want we are learning from them in both negative and positive ways, but the negative ways we are learning and correcting them and hopefully getting better at them.”
On if he is proud of the way they played tonight ...
“In some aspects of the game, yes, but in some ways we could have done a little better and maybe even sealed the game if we would have.”