STARKVILLE, Miss. — No. 14 LSU needed a missed field goal by No. 25 Mississippi State to escape with a 21-19 victory Saturday in the season opener.
Dak Prescott led the Bulldogs on an almost game-winning drive as time ran down in the fourth quarter. But MSU kicker Westin Graves missed a 52-yard attempt as the clock expired.
The Bulldogs had nearly overcome a 15-point deficit thanks to an incredible second-half performance by Prescott. He had just 88 yards passing in the first half but finished with 335. That helped bring the Bulldogs back within a field goal of a stunning victory.
The comeback started when Prescott provided MSU’s first touchdown of the game two plays into the fourth quarter. He carried it in from one-yard out to make it 21-13, after going 5-for-8 for 51 yards in the air on that drive.
He was even better two possessions later.
MSU took over at its own 16 after an LSU punt about midway through the fourth quarter. Prescott completed six straight passes for 82 yards, capped off by a 5-yard touchdown throw to De’Runnya Wilson. MSU couldn’t complete the two-point conversion though, leaving LSU with a 21-19 lead in the waning minutes.
LSU couldn’t seal it on the ensuing possession and punted it back to MSU with 1:32 on the clock.
Prescott took over at his own 11. He completed five of seven passes on the drive to bring MSU to the LSU 29 with eight seconds left, but a delay of game backed the Bulldogs up five yards.
Tre’Davious White broke up a pass on the next play to force MSU to attempt the 52-yard game-winning field goal that missed wide right.
LSU managed to serve up some revenge after Mississippi State came into Tiger Stadium last year and stunned the Tigers. Though Prescott eventually got to them through the air, LSU held him to negative rushing yards thanks to three sacks.
LSU, on the other hand, did plenty of damage on the ground. Leonard Fournette led the way with 159 rushing yards and three touchdowns. Brandon Harris also contributed 48 rushing yards, as his mobility showed in the opener.
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Though LSU didn't have as much success in the second half, the Tigers' new-look offense under Harris did start strong. LSU scored on two of its first three possessions.
After a defensive holding penalty prolonged LSU’s second possession of the game, Harris converted a third down with a 23-yard pass to Desean Smith. Darrel Williams took over after that with consecutive carries for 14 total yards.
Then LSU got tricky, lining up Fournette at quarterback. He soared over the offensive line to get his first touchdown of the season from one yard out.
Fournette was again the star on LSU’s next possession. After a 20-yard pass from Harris to Malachi Dupre, Fournette got the ball and went 26 yards to the end zone to put the Tigers ahead 14-0.
Those 14 first-quarter points were the most LSU has ever scored in a road opener to start the season since at least 1947.
Harris completed 9 of 14 passes for 71 yards. He only had 15 yards passing the second half. He didn't turn the ball over though and got sacked only once. He also looked much more comfortable than he did a year ago.
LSU’s defense controlled MSU through the first half. The Bulldogs failed to convert all seven of their first-half third downs, and LSU held them to only 3.2 yards per play after two quarters.
Constant pressure on Prescott was a big reason for that. LSU had two sacks and two quarterback hurries in the first half.
The Bulldogs most successive offensive possession didn’t come until its last of the second quarter. Prescott had them marching, completing his first four passes of the series for a combined 41 yards. MSU got the LSU 26-yard line but stalled after three consecutive incompletions left the Bulldogs with only a field goal.
MSU had a similar drive in its first of the second half. The Bulldogs picked up 40 yards on eight plays to get inside the LSU 10-yard line. But Tre’Davious White broke up a fade intended for Wilson to force another field goal.
LSU answered back with a touchdown on the next possession. It was all Fournette once again as he busted off a 20-yard run on the drive’s first play. He capped it off with an 18-yard touchdown six plays later, his third of the game.
Fournette surpassed the 100-yard mark with that touchdown run. It’s his third straight game with 100 yards going back to last season.
LSU's victory may have been a bit more comfortable if not for some costly penalties. The Tigers committed nine in the game for 95 yards lost, and they had two holding penalties erase what would've been long touchdowns by Travin Dural.
Despite all that though, LSU managed to come out with victory No. 1 of the 2015 season.