No. 1-ranked Tigers grind past WKU

LSU shrugs off Hilltoppers with strong second half, pulls away for 42-9 win

LSU quarterback Jordan Jefferson’s first start of the season went well enough for the No. 1-ranked Tigers to win comfortably, even if it started a little slower than they would have liked.

Alfred Blue and Kenny Hilliard each scored two touchdowns, and LSU dominated the second half in a 42-9 victory over Western Kentucky Saturday night.

One week after playing most of the Tigers’ 9-6 overtime victory at Alabama, Jefferson got the start against the Hilltoppers, hitting 8 of 14 passes for 168 yards, including a 59-yard scoring strike to Rueben Randle.

LSU came in favored by nearly six touchdowns, but led only 14-7 at halftime before dominating the second half to reach 10-0 for the first time since 1958.

Keshawn Simpson had a 2-yard touchdown run for Western Kentucky (5-5), which saw its winning streak end at five.

Hilltoppers quarterback Kuwaun Jakes completed 11 of 24 passes for 97 yards and was intercepted once by linebacker Tahj Jones.

While LSU struggled to run early, the Tigers eventually wore the Hilltoppers down and finished with 291 yards on the ground, led by Blue's 119 on nine carries.

Jefferson, who lost his starting job when he was arrested in connection with an August bar fight and was then suspended for LSU's first four games, has become increasingly involved in the Tigers' offense since his return.

Last week's victory at Alabama marked the first time all season he played the majority of the snaps, taking over in that game for good after Jarrett Lee had thrown his second interception of the contest in the third quarter.

Miles didn’t announce whether Lee or Jefferson would start during the week leading up to LSU's homecoming date with the Hilltoppers. Shortly before kickoff, Lee was announced as the starter over the public address system, but Jefferson took the field for the first series.

Jefferson played until 12 minutes remained in the fourth quarter, when Lee relieved him and immediately drove LSU 82 yards in 14 plays, 10 of them runs, before hitting Kadron Boone with a 5-yard scoring pass.

LSU led 21-7 after Hilliard's first TD from 1 yard out capped an 8-play, 68-yard drive, but Antonio Andrews returned the ensuing kickoff 73 yards for WKU, and a few plays later, the Hilltoppers were threating to cut the deficit back to one score with second-and-goal on the LSU 2.

Western Kentucky then attempted three straight runs, all stuffed by the LSU defense, giving the Tigers the ball on downs at their own 1.

The Hilltoppers salvaged 2 points when they forced Jefferson into an intentional grounding penalty in the end zone for s safety. But three plays after WKU received the ensuing free kick, Jakes' passed was tipped and intercepted by Jones on the Hilltoppers 42.

Two plays later, Blue burst through the middle of the line untouched for a 45-yard touchdown to make it 28-9.

LSU went ahead 35-9 when Blue added his second touchdown from 4 yards out early in the fourth quarter.

Western Kentucky, in contention to win the Sun Belt Conference, kept it interesting throughout the first half, forcing LSU to punt twice, recovering Odell Beckham Jr.'s fumble on a kickoff return and dominating time of possession, 20:01 to 9:59.

When LSU took the lead on Randle's TD catch on the Tigers' second possession, the Hilltoppers responded with a 10-play, 65-yard touchdown drive to tie the game at 7-7.

Jakes kept the drive alive with a 10-yard completion to Mitchell Henry at the LSU 19, then found Jack Doyle at the 2 to set up Simpson's score.

WKU even set up a go-ahead field goal attempt in the second quarter, but Casey Tinius' 49-yard kick was short and wide right.

Western Kentucky had entered the game allowing on 99 yards rushing per game during a five-game winning streak, and dared LSU to throw by packing the middle of the field with defenders. When the Tigers stubbornly tried to run anyway, they stalled. When Jefferson threw, they scored.

One LSU's second scoring drive, Jefferson completed consecutive passes of 6 yards to Spencer Ware, 29 yards to Beckham and 24 yards to Chase Clement, setting up Hilliard's 1-yard scoring plunge to make it 14-7 late in the second quarter.


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