LSU ventured north Saturday and came away with a 34-24 victory against Syracuse.
Leonard Fournette was the big difference, as he always seems to be, finishing with 244 yards rushing and a pair of touchdowns. He became the first player in LSU history to eclipse the 200-yard mark in consecutive games.
But not even he was enough to lift LSU to a comfortable win.
Syracuse proved to be tougher than most expected, as LSU led by as little as seven midway through the fourth quarter. The Tigers didn’t seal it until Deion Jones intercepted a pass deflected at the line by Arden Key with the Tigers clinging to a one-score lead.
LSU was its own worst enemy throughout that game. The Tigers committed 14 penalties for 120 yards, seven of those flags coming in the first half, contributing to LSU’s slim 7-3 lead at halftime.
Fournette was enough to overcome that though. He was the lone star for LSU in that first half and kept it up the rest of the game. The Tigers had 149 yards at the break, most of that coming from the Heisman contender.
He surpassed the 100-yard mark for the fifth straight game by halftime. He also had LSU’s only score of the half, waltzing in from 14 yards out around the left side late in the first quarter.
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That touchdown was set up earlier in the drive on a heads-up play by both Brandon Harris and Fournette. Harris narrowly avoided a sack, lateraling it to Fournette just before he got brought to the ground. Fournette took it 48 yards and found the end zone two plays later.
Syracuse’s lone first-half scoring drive ended with a field goal midway through the second quarter. The Orange nearly had another at the end of the first half though. Syracuse called a successful fake field goal, lining up the punter at holder, and he took it right and hurdling over LSU corner Kevin Toliver to pick up the first.
Syracuse had to try a real field goal two plays later, but the kicker missed the 31-yarder off the right upright.
LSU came out firing in the second half. Harris and Malachi Dupre connected for a third-down conversion through the air, and Harris found him again three plays later for a 42-yarder into the Syracuse red zone.
LSU had to settle for a 21-yard field goal to make it 10-3 when the drive stalled inside the Syracuse 5-yard line.
LSU’s special teams unit rebounded nicely after a rough first half with its first return opportunity of the second. Tre'Davious White fielded a punt at the LSU 31-yard line and took it all the way, untouched, for a 69-yard score, the Tigers’ first return touchdown of the season.
Syracuse bounced back in a big way on its next possession though. After a 15-yard penalty against Lewis Neal for making a tackle without his helmet, Syracuse went deep on a play-action, hitting Brisley Estime for a 40-yard touchdown to make it 17-10.
It quickly went back to the Fournette Show though. He picked up 13 yards on the first three plays of LSU’s next possession before busting off a 62-yard touchdown straight up the middle, his second of the game and eighth of the season.
Fournette nearly had a third on the first play of the next offensive series, but his 87-yard touchdown got called back for holding.
Penalties cost LSU again on Syracuse’s next time out. A facemask followed by a pass interference set the Orange up in the red zone. Zach Mahoney capped it off with a 2-yard touchdown pass to cut the deficit to one score.
The touchdown back-and-forth continued, as LSU answered with a score of its own, this time through the air. Harris converted a long third down on 51-yard bomb to Travin Dural, aided by a defensive pass interference penalty. Harris then connected with Dupre for an 11-yard touchdown pass, the first this season thrown to a wide receiver.
The LSU defense finally came up with a big stop on the next series with Jones’ game-sealing interception.
LSU kicked a 37-yard field goal after that to make it 34-17.
Syracuse picked up a touchdown with less than two minutes remaining, but LSU recovered the ensuing onside kick to seal the 34-24 victory.
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