LSU 48, Tulane 17

All LSU needed was two out of the three phases of its game to beat Tulane in the Tigers' 2001 season opener Saturday night. While the defense had its moments, a strong special teams showing and a opportunistic offense allowed LSU to post a 48-17 win over the Green Wave in front of a Tiger Stadium-record 91,782 fans.

The Tigers presented a balanced attack against the Green Wave, rushing for 232 yards and picking up 262 more through the air. Running back LaBrandon Toefield accounted for 58 rushing yards and three touchdowns, and quarterback Rohan Davey finished 19-of-29 with two passing scores. Leading the receivers was Josh Reed, who picked up 253 yards on six catches.

"Obviously, this was a great win for us," said LSU coach Nick Saban. "It's always good to get the first one under your belt. We were very concerned how we would play in this game, being it was the opening game. You always have a lot of anxiety about mistakes you could make, and I felt like early in the game we played well.

"It was really significant there were three big plays in the kicking game in the first half,"

Toefield scored on LSU's first play from scrimmage on a 28-yard run around the right side into the south end zone. Setting up the play was a 59-yard kickoff return from Domanick Davis that would be the first of several key special teams plays on the night.

Early in the second quarter with LSU ahead 14-3, Tulane punt returner Lynaris Elpheage bobbled a kick from Donnie Jones at his own 31. Adrian Mayes pounced on the bouncing ball at the TU 4 yard line, setting up a 21-yard field goal from John Corbello.

The Green Wave scored on its next possession to keep the game close. Starting the drive on its own 7, Tulane worked quickly out of a no-huddle offense and got into the end zone on Patrick Ramsey's 26-yard touchdown pass to Roydell Williams. It made the score 17-10 with 7:16 to go before intermission.

LSU needed only three plays and 26 seconds to respond and reestablish its comfort zone. A 31-yard run from Davis put the Tigers in Tulane territory, and a 42-yard connection from Davey to Reed got the Tigers to the Greenies' 3. Davis got into the end zone on the next play, and Corbello's extra point put LSU back up by 14.

"It was a big deal because our special teams got us a turnover on the plus-50 (Tulane territory)," said Davey. "Any time you get the ball on the plus-50, you have to think ‘score.'"

Special teams stepped up again for the Tigers when Tulane was forced to punt on their next possession. Green Wave punter Casey Roussel mishandled the center snap and was tackled by Elice Parker without getting off a kick at the Tulane 9. Toefield capped a two-play drive with a 3-yard scoring run to give LSU a 31-10 lead.

After Tulane's offense sputtered to another three-and-out series, the Tigers got the ball back and positioned Corbello for a 32-yard field goal to cap the first half scoring.

Tulane got the ball to start the second half, but Ramsey stumbled right out of the gate. On 3rd and 10 at his 33, he forced a slant pass into coverage and watched as Damien James intercepted for LSU.

Ramsey finished the night 25-of-47 for 343, two touchdowns and the one interception. His passing game was the one reliable aspect of the Tulane offense, as the Greenies managed only 48 yards on 26 rushing attempts.

Following James' pickoff, the Tigers moved in for another score. Reed's 20-yard reception set up a 3-yard toss from Davey to tight end Eric Edwards, putting LSU ahead 41-10 after Corbello's conversion.

While throwing in the towel would have been a justifiable action at this point in the game, Tulane kept fighting and eventually posted another score. A 6-yard scoring pass from Ramsey to Zander Johnson finished an 11-play drive for Tulane with 6:17 to go in the third quarter.

The period ended with LSU ahead 41-17 and the Tigers poised on the goal line. Devery Henderson, who led his team with 64 yards on 19 carries, could not crack the end zone from one yard out on two attempts. Since he had carried eight times on the drive, Toefield was inserted on third down and dashed into the end zone on the first play of the fourth quarter.

"The offensive line did a great job," said Toefield. "All they have to do is block the front four or five, and I just have to do my part when I get into the secondary."

Marcus Randall took over for Davey in the fourth quarter and completed both of his pass attempts. But on his second completion, Tulane linebacker Brandon Spincer knocked the ball loose from Jerel Myers and Blake Baker recovered for the Green Wave at the LSU 28.

Ramsey took Tulane down to the 2 yard line but could not hit pay dirt. His fourth down pass to Williams was incomplete, and LSU took over with 9:26 to go in the game.

The plan was for the Tigers to run out the clock with its reserve running backs, but Derron Parquet could not maintain a grip on the football. Tulane recovered the second of Parquet's two fumbles on the drive and set up shop at the LSU 48.

Ramsey got his team close to the end zone again but could not finish the drive. On 4th and goal at the 4, a draw play to running back Mewelde Moore blew up when Kenderick Allen met Moore in the backfield shortly after the ball was put into his hands. LSU took over at its 9 and allowed true freshman running back Joseph Addai to run down the clock with seven straight carries.

The Tigers play next week against Utah State. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. Saturday night at Tiger Stadium. 

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