BATON ROUGE -- On Saturday night in Tiger Stadium, Zach Mettenberger became the first quarterback in the 120-year history of LSU football with five touchdown passes in a single game, as the senior led the Tigers past UAB, 56-17.
Mettenberger led an efficient offensive attack, completing 16-of-19 passes for 282 yards. He broke a record of four touchdowns passing set 11 times previously, most recently by Matt Flynn in the 2008 BCS National Championship against Ohio State.
The prime recepient of Mettenberger's historic night was Odell Beckham Jr., who caught five passes for 136 yards with touchdowns of 29, 22 and 27 yards. Jarvis Landry had the other two touchdown receptions of 24 and 14 yards, finishing with five catches for 71 yards.
Beckham also had a record-setting evening, returning a missed 59-yard field goal from the back of the LSU endzone for a 100 yard scrimmage kick return. The rare return gave him 331 all-purpose yards, third-best in school history behind Kevin Faulk's 376 against Houston in 1996 and Josh Reed's 338 at Alabama in 2001.
LSU outgained UAB, 445-296. Of the Blazers' 296 yards, 182 came in a second-quarter outburst when UAB scored all 17 of its points.
Defensively, linebackers Lamin Barrow and Lamar Louis each led LSU with seven tackles. Defensive end Jordan Allen had his first career sack, while fellow end Jermauria Rasco had six tackles, a sack and two quarterback hurries.
The Tigers return to action at 6 p.m. CT on Saturday, Sept. 14, for a 6 p.m. CT kickoff against Kent State. The game will be televised by ESPNU.
UAB was led by Darrin Reaves' 84 yards rushing on 14 attempts with an 11-yard touchdown. Jordan Howard added 60 rushing yards, while quarterback Austin Brown was 9-of-24 passing for 136 yards including a 41-yard touchdown pass to Jamarcus Nelson.
After UAB won the coin toss and deferred its decision until the second half, the teams traded punts to open the game.
On the Tigers' second drive, Mettenberger and Beckham began their historic evening by connecting three times en route to LSU's first score. A 49-yard pass to the UAB 28 setup a 29-yard touchdown catch by Beckham for the first of four unanswered touchdowns for the Tigers.
A three-and-out by the Blazers and a punt to midfield put the Tigers in position to add another score. Mettenberger earned another first down with his feet before reconnecting with Beckham for a precision strike from 29 yards. LSU pushed its lead to 14-0 with 2:29 remaining in the opening quarter.
Beckham continued to dominate the game offensively, returning a UAB punt 60 yards to the UAB 9. Two plays after a holding penalty on the Blazers in the endzone, Hilliard scored from 1 yard out to put the Tigers ahead 21-0 the end the first quarter.
A fumble by UAB's Jonathan Perry was recovered by LSU defensive tackle Quentin Thomas at the UAB 19, and the Tigers quickly converted the mistake into another touchdown. Jeremy Hill's first touch of the season went into the endzone from 3 yards and Colby Delahoussaye's PAT gave LSU a 28-0 lead with 14:20 left in the quarter.
As LSU began give experience to some of its younger defenders, UAB took advantage. The Blazers scored all 17 of its points in the final 11:11 of the quarter, and rolled up 182 of its 296 yards of total offense.
An 11-yard touchdown run by Reaves capped a nine-play, 75-yard drive. Reaves had 36 yards rushing on the drive and cut the LSU margin to 28-7.
LSU answered with its fifth touchdown in as many drive, as Mettenberger completed all four of his pass attempts for 68 yards including a 24-yard touchdown to Landry with 8:01 remaining in the half.
LSU led 35-7.
UAB went three-and-out to give the ball back to LSU, but the ball was stripped from Landry after a 13-yard catch on the second play of the ensuing drive. UAB recovered at the LSU 39 and converted a third-and-12 for a 41-yard touchdown from Brown to Nelson.
The strike to the right corner of the endzone make the score 35-14 with 5:19 left in the half.
The Blazers nearly added another touchdown before the break, but LSU stopped the march at its 6, and UAB settled for a 24-yard Ty Long field goal as the half expired.
LSU led 35-17 at halftime.
After a three-and-out by UAB, the Tigers offense continued to pile on the points. Hill moved LSU into Blazers territory with three-straight runs to the 37 before Mettenberger earned another first down rushing with a 10-yard gallop on third-and-6. On the next play, Mettenberger lobbed a pass over three defenders into the outstretched arms of Beckham in the north endzone. The touchdown gave LSU a 42-17 lead with 12:02 remaining in the third quarter.
Three punts later, LSU added another score when Hill rolled off runs of 14 and 15 yards to the UAB 14. For his record-setting fifth touchdown of the night, Mettenberger tossed a 14-yard touchdown pass to Landry.
LSU led 49-17 with 6:16 left in the third quarter.
Beckham capped his evening with a return that will be forever enshrined in LSU football history. With UAB attempting a would-be stadium record 59-yard field goal, the LSU return man went to the endzone in the event the kick came up short. Long's kick landed in Beckham's arms about eight yards deep in the south endzone, where Beckham began a 100-yard return for a touchdown.
The scrimmage return gave LSU it's final points of the night with 2:11 left in the third quarter. Beckham became the first Tiger with four touchdowns in a single game since LaBrandon Toefield on Sept. 8, 2001, against Utah State.
Post Game Quotes
LSU HEAD COACH LES MILES
Opening statement …
“We have had a lot of games against a lot of teams that frankly came down to the wire. It’s nice to have a game where you really distance yourself from your opponent and you play quality football for the most part for four quarters. For a lot of young players, they went away with a very significant victory. On offense, we only had 54 plays. (Zach) Mettenberger threw a school-record five touchdowns and was 16-for-19. Odell Beckham (Jr.) had five receptions, 136 yards, three scores and 331 offensive yards. That field goal return for a touchdown has to be a school record, just for the fact it was a field goal, not a punt. He had a big night. He is third (all-time) for all-purpose yardage, which for this school is pretty special. Nine guys caught balls and nine guys ran balls. We played some new faces in the offensive line and we got some new guys in the backfield. On defense in the second quarter, we had a young safety in the game that didn’t make the right adjustment. Therefore, for a while we were a little misplaced. We came back in at halftime, made some adjustments and scored in the second half. To me, that’s the way it’s supposed to be. Again, we played a lot of guys on the defensive side of the ball that were true freshmen: (Tashawn) Bower, Lewis Neal, Rickey Jefferson, Rashard Robinson. These are guys that we expect to take down the long haul. These are guys that must play big for us as we move forward. I thought our special teams was much better. (James) Hairston seemed to kick it out. We covered some kicks, which I enjoyed. Again, the goal of today was to play four quarters of fine football. I think we fell short of that some, but I think we can improve. It’s certainly a lot of good things. We’re 2-0, and I’m looking forward to the next contests.”
On QB Zach Mettenberger …
“If you watch Zach (Mettenberger) throw a football, he’s throwing a football with so much confidence. He knows where it’s supposed to go. I would have to say there are two throws he’d like to have back: one of the early ones and one was not necessarily a throw, but a decision about halfway through. Other than that, he took the ball were it was intended to go and threw pretty well.”
LSU OFFENSIVE PLAYER QUOTES
On LSU’s offensive performance through two games …
“It’s all about executing. Around this time last year we just weren’t executing too well. There were some mistakes that we left out on the field, but all in all, we did a very good job tonight and we can only get better from here.”
On Odell Beckham, Jr.'s performance tonight …
“The guy is a very special athlete and a great guy as well. Third all-time all-purpose yards [in a single game for LSU] is really special considering all the talent that has come through here. I’m very proud of him.”
WR Odell Beckham, Jr.
On his big performance tonight …
“I prayed before the game just for a big game, and it finally came through. I just have to give my hats off to my teammates.”
On his missed field goal return touchdown and if they worked on that in practice …
“Not that exact situation. But we worked on a look that if it was a long field goal to just be back there in case they run a fake or anything like that. I was kind of hoping that he kicked it a little bit high because I was going to try and block it, but it ended up working out better.”
On what happened on his missed field goal return for a touchdown …
“I went to the right and I saw the whole team just go to the right and I made a cut back left and there was just a huge row of everybody blocking and I think Kwon [Alexander] had two blocks at the end, just picking up guys. They led the way all the way to the end zone.”
LSU DEFENSIVE PLAYER QUOTES
LB Lamin Barrow
On the first home game …
“I think everyone went out there with a little bit of jitters. I think after awhile we responded pretty well. As far as the linebackers, a lot of them played tonight. I do not think I really saw a drop off from anyone. I think everyone came out on the field to play.”
On going back in to play …
“Of course we are going to mix guys in, but Coach Miles never really told us we would not go back into the game to play. We are not going to sit back on our heels. We are not that kind of defense. I think that is disrespectful to the other team to take all of your starters out before the game is over. The game is not over until it is over. We had a lot of football to play.”
On UAB scoring …
“It was not put away. We kind of sat back on our heels, and a few guys got a little too comfortable. We came in at halftime and had to get ourselves together. Playing against a team like this you know they are going to come out fighting. They want to fight the whole game. We allowed ourselves to become complacent.”
CB Jalen Mills
On UAB scoring a touchdown …
“I really was not satisfied. I feel like it was me and the other guy, and I let him catch the ball on me. It was my fault. I am not impressed with the way I performed on that particular play. There is always next week.”
On what he will do to improve next week …
“I will settle down and work on my technique in practice. I will focus on what I need to do in order to bounce back next week. On that running touchdown I was inside of my man. I had the wrong leverage, and he had a good angle on me. I just need to focus on what I need to do in order to bounce back and play next week.”
UAB Head Coach Garrick McGee
On struggling in the first and third quarters…
“We made mistakes number one. We really wanted to kick that ball out of bounds. We think number 3 (Odell Beckham Jr.) is one of the most dangerous punt returners in the country. We didn’t want to give him a chance to impact the game like he did. The plan was to kick the ball out of bounds. We miskicked the ball twice, one of which he made us pay for and ran it back. That was a huge play. Then, offensively, I think our kids had to settle down. We were not converting on third downs in the first quarter and against one of the best teams in the country, they can completely expose you.”
On what he tells his team after a game like this…
“What I just told them was if we really learned something on the field, and what we should’ve learned was, there was a stretch in that game in the second quarter where we played pretty good football against one of the top programs in the country. Then, we came out in the third quarter, we dropped some balls, we made some missed assignments, we didn’t compete as hard, but I learned a couple of things. Number one, we do need to get better in our off-season. Number two, that our team is good enough to compete with Conference USA football teams.”
On changing punters…
“(Hunter Mullins) did not execute the game plan.
On the response to the long field goal return for a touchdown…
“When you have nine offensive linemen on the field and a kid that explosive catches the ball, I probably shouldn’t have kicked that kick. It was late and I wanted to try and go after one.”
On Jordan Howard’s performance…
“I think Jordan Howard did very well. I’m glad we got to get him in the game. When we leave here, as an offense we’re saying there’s another weapon. That guy is a physical runner. He’s a true freshman. For him to run the ball like that against those guys, he hit holes, he was reading the running lanes, and then he finished his runs running forward. Jordan Howard is a force for our team.”
On what he hopes to accomplish in next week’s bye week…
“We are going to go back to our fundamentals and technique. It’s not going to be as physical as it has been in the past because I think that our team has proven that they are willing to play physical. For our defense to limit the run game like they did out there today and for our offense to run the ball against an opponent of that caliber, it says that we are able to play physical football against Conference USA teams.”
UAB OFFENSIVE PLAYER QUOTES
PK Ty Long
On how to improve from tonight’s game…
“In the second quarter, we actually took over the game. I know every LSU fan out there would say that isn’t true. We started driving down the field and getting the momentum going into the third quarter with the late field goal right before half time.”
On moving forward from tonight’s game…
“Any game you lose is not fun. You can definitely see how this team has grown since last year. For me personally, I don’t like to lose any games. As of right now I am not happy about, but now we just have to get ready for Northwestern State University.”
On Odell Beckham Jr.’s missed field goal return for a touchdown…
“I wanted it. It was 59 yards into the wind. I have hit that before, so I wanted it. I thought I did have it until I saw him reaching back over the uprights. There is nothing I can do about it now. It was a good experience.”
RB Jordan Howard
On how to improve from tonight’s game…
“We just have to work harder and figure out what we need to do. We have to make fewer mental mistakes. I still think we can win the Conference USA Championship. At one point we were dominating them. We just hope to erase all the mental mistakes and do what we need to do. We just want to win the Conference USA Championship.”
On the second quarter…
“It gave us a lot of confidence. It showed that we can fight through adversity. No matter how much we are down we can still come back and fight.”
On his first college game experience…
“It was a huge moment and I cherished it. I think I showed the coaches that I can run hard and that I play physical. If I have a chance I can do something with the ball.”
UAB DEFENSIVE PLAYER QUOTES
LB Jake Ganus
On how to move forward after tonight’s game …
“We showed against a physical football team that we did a good job on stopping the run. They made plays. The loss was tough, and it’s painful. We have a good game plan, but I think we need to execute it better.”
On a different defensive look after halftime …
“We had a heavier personnel stopping the run. Their lineup of running backs teamed up, but I thought we did a good job stopping the run. This helped us make more defensive plays in the backfield, and I think we did a better job in the second half of stopping those big plays. “