LSU Takes Control Early to Take Down Auburn

A game report from Tiger Stadium in Baton Rouge features comments from players, coaches and game statistics.

Baton Rouge, La.--Auburn's struggles continued as Gene Chizik's Tigers dropped a third straight SEC game falling 31-10 to LSU on Saturday night in Tiger Stadium.

Auburn managed just 193 yards of total offense and quarterback Chris Todd, who had avoided turnovers much of the season, was intercepted once and lost a fumble on a sack. He completed 8-14 passes for just 47 yards.

Playing just one series, his backup, Neil Caudle hit 3-5 or 34 yards and a touchdown.

The defense, except for one play, did a solid job against LSU's rushing game allowing 122 net yards on 32 carries, but the secondary had a rough night defending the passes of quarterback Jordan Jefferson and his talented receivers. Jefferson hit 21-31 passes for 242 yards and two touchdowns as he had his best night of the season.

Auburn's special teams contributed to the lopsided loss, too. Philip Pierre-Louis muffed a punt that LSU cashed in for three points and a pair of horrible sky kicks gave the home team good field position.

Chizik noted his team played a sloppy first quarter as they dug themselves a two-touchdown hole they couldn't climb out of against the ninth-ranked Bayou Bengals who improved to 6-1 overall and 4-1 in the SEC while Auburn fell to 5-3 overall and 2-3 in the conference.

"They beat us in about every phase of the football game," Chizik said. "I have got to give them a lot of credit. They are a very, very good football team. We obviously have a lot of room for improvement."

LSU, which had an extra week to prepare for Auburn, used it well. An offense that been averaging just 292 yards per game gained 376 vs. Auburn.

"During the off-week we focused on a lot of things that we made mistakes on," said LSU QB Jefferson, whose team had just one turnover. "Coming out and executing the way we did offensively really gave us a confidence boost."

Auburn senior cornerback Walt McFadden said the defense realized Jefferson was dangerous. "We knew that he was a great athlete We knew that he could make throws and we had seen film when he had good games. We just needed to step up to the challenge and we didn't. He came out firing it."

The opening quarter didn't go well for the Tigers and the second quarter wasn't real good either.

Auburn lost the toss, LSU deferred and Auburn got the ball first. On its opening possession, Chizik's Tigers faced a third down and one at midfield, but couldn't convert as Ben Tate was stopped for little gain. AU decided to go on fourth an less than a yard, but the officials ruled illegal procedure on the visitors when it looked like LSU was going to draw the flag. AU punted to LSU to set up the first scoring drive of the night.

With the help of a pass interference call on Neiko Thorpe and a highly questionable personal foul on Zac Etheridge, LSU drove 83 yards on eight plays. The call on Etheridge converted a third down for the home team.

Fittingly, on first and five after Auburn was called for offsides on what looked to be an identical situation that was called differently when Auburn had the ball, Jefferson dropped back to pass and hit Terrance Tolliver in the end zone over Thorpe on a 14-yard TD pass.

Auburn's offense struggled the rest of the half. At intermission it totaled just 42 yards on 17 plays.

In addition, the offense contributed directly to the halftime deficit with a sack by Harry Coleman that caused Todd to fumble the ball at the Auburn 16. From there the Bayou Bengals cashed in three plays later on a 15-yard scramble by Jefferson who beat Etheridge in the open field for the score with 1:10 left in the first quarter.

A big play by the defense in the second quarter kept the Tigers from falling behind by three touchdowns when Etheridge stripped the football from Jefferson. The ball rolled into the end zone and was recovered for a touchback by Craig Stevens.

LSU got the only points of the second period after a good defensive stand by AU's defense forced a punt. However, Pierre-Louis couldn't handle the punt and LSU got the ball at the Auburn 36 with 1:33 left in the half. Josh Jasper's 32-yard field goal with nine seconds left in the half made the score 17-0.

The halftime total was all of the points LSU would need, but the Bayou Bengals added a pair of touchdowns in the third quarter to take total control.

Brandon LaFell caught a 17-yard pass for a touchdown after Auburn's sky kick to start the second quarter was returned to the AU 45. From there it took LSU just four plays to make the score 24-0.

Auburn responded with a 53-yard drive later in the quarter, but stalled on first and goal and had to settle for a 24-yard Wes Byrum field goal with 9:21 left in the third quarter.

Neither team scored again until late in the third period when Russell Shepherd had the only long run of the game for the home team. He found a huge hole at left tackle and raced 69 yards for a score to make the lead 31-3.

Auburn's only score came with three seconds left as backup quarterback Neil Caudle threw a one-yard pass to freshman tight end Philip Lutzenkirchen after LSU had put its first team defense back in the game to try to keep Auburn out of the end zone.

One of the few highlights of the game for Auburn was the return of Eltoro Freeman to the lineup at linebacker. He led AU with five solo tackles and seven assists, including two for 12 yards in losses. "It was good to get him back out there," McFadden said. "He gave us a lift on defense."

Defensive coordinator Ted Roof said he noticed Freeman, too. "He was good to have him back out there running to the football," the coordinator said.

Freeman helped the Tigers hold LSU tailback Charles Scott to 20 yards on 10 carries.

Tate gained 68 yards on on 18 carries for Auburn and Mario Fannin rushed six times for 56 yards for the visitors.

The Tigers return home for a Saturday morning kickoff against Ole Miss next week.

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