Tigers ease past Mountaineers 24-0

LSU's second-straight rent-a-win proved substantially tougher on the back end than the front as the Tigers were out-rushed but not outscored by 1-AA foe Appalachian State in front of a lukewarm homecoming crowd of 91,414 in Tiger Stadium Saturday.

The win improved LSU's record to 7-1 overall and framed the long awaited showdown at SEC-leading Alabama next Saturday. Appalachian State fell to 6-3 overall in a loss that shouldn't affect the Mountaineers' No. 7 ranking in the 1-AA polls.


Four Moutaineer rushers split time carrying the ball through often gaping holes in the Tiger defense. Led by quarterback Richie Williams' 80 yards on 10 carries, the quartet combined for 176 yards on the ground compared to 163 yards for the Tigers.


Tiger junior Justin Vincent led all rushers with 89 yards on 16 carries and one touchdown.


But, LSU vastly eclipsed Appalachian State in passing yardage thanks to an efficient 16-22, 208-yard two-touchdown performance by quarterback JaMarcus Russell. The Mountaineers claimed just 80 yards through the air after entering the game averaging slightly more than 245 passing yards per contest.


LSU's lead was never truly threatened after the Tigers jumped to a 7-0 lead in the game's first possession. The Moutaineers did manage to make matters a bit interesting in the second half, driving the ball to the Tiger 15 in the third quarter with LSU holding just a 14-0 advantage.


After missing its first and only legitimate chance to score when a 33-yard field goal bounced off the right upright, Appalachian State fell prey to the faster, stronger and deeper Tigers who scored a touchdown and a field goal in the fourth quarter to salt away the win.


Appalachian State Coach Jerry Moore said he was extremely proud of the way his players approached the game in an atmosphere foreign to nearly every 1-AA team. LSU Head Coach Les Miles said Moore had every reason to be proud.


"I tried to let this team know that this team we're playing is a good football team," Miles said. "It didn't make any difference what division they're in. They have all the ingredients -- offense, defense and special teams."


Miles' comments came just a week after the Tigers pounded 1-A inferior North Texas 56-3, prompting the Tiger coach to say Appalachian State was a much more worthy opponent and a better test for his team as it approaches the long-awaited contest in Alabama that could decide the SEC Western division.  


LSU drove the ball decisively on its first possession, mixing runs and short passes on a seven-play march that culminated in a 9-yard pass threaded between three defensive backs by Russell to Dwayne Bowe. Russell completed all five attempts during the drive, including 15-yarders to Craig Davis and Bowe respectively. Colt David's extra point gave the Tigers a 7-0 advantage with 11:02 remaining in the first quarter.


Appalachian State responded by moving the ball rapidly across midfield thanks largely to a 20-yard, first-down pass from Williams to wide out Jermaine Little. But, the Mountaineers stalled at the Tiger 45 and were forced to punt.


After LSU was unable to earn a first down on the ensuing possession, Appalachian State regained possession at its 12-yard line, lost yards on its first two plays and faced a 3rd-and-17 at its 5-yard line. Williams stepped through the LSU blitz and raced down the field for 35 yards, leaving the shadow of the north endzone behind. But, the Mountaineers stumbled near midfield again and punted back to LSU.


LSU seized the chance to extend its lead to two touchdowns. Riding Vincent's back, the Tigers methodically marched 80 yards in eight plays. Vincent carried the ball six times during the drive for a combined 58 yards including the 1-yard touchdown dive. David's extra point made the score 14-0 with 11:56 remaining in the half.


Again, Appalachian State moved the ball near midfield, this time thanks to a holding penalty by LSU at the line of scrimmage during the punt giving the Mountaineers a first down at the Tiger 35 instead of a LSU first down near the 50-yard line. But, the Mountaineers stalled once more and LSU took eventually took back possession at its 35.


The Tigers stalled as well on the ensuing possession at their 41-yard line, forcing punter Chris Jackson to pin the Mountaineers at their 6-yard line after a spiraling 54-yard punt. Richardson burst through the Tiger line for 10 yards on first down, giving Appalachian State some working room. But, the advance ended five plays later and LSU took control at its 34.


The Tigers stalled as well on their chanced to score again before halftime and Jackson punted back to the Mountaineers. Appalachian State again advanced to near midfield but no farther as the half ended on a completion to Hans Batichon across the middle of the field.  


Appalachian State lost four yards on the opening drive of the second half giving LSU a chance to try to extend its lead. The Tigers moved no farther than the Mountaineer 21-yard line, providing Jackson an opportunity to try a 38-yard field goal. But, the boot was woefully short, landing in the north endzone while moans rained from the thinning crowd.


The Mountaineers then mounted their most productive attack of the contest. Instead of stalling near midfield, Appalachian State drove well beyond to the Tiger 15 giving place kicker Julian Rauch the chance to break the shutout on a 33-yard field goal attempt. But, in a scene Tiger fans have become accustomed to this season, Rauch bounced the attempt off the right upright and LSU took possession with 3:19 remaining in the third quarter.


LSU responded with a productive drive as well that eventually and finally extended the Tiger lead. Russell found tight end Keith Zinger open in the south endzone for a 9-yard touchdown, giving the Tigers a 21-0 advantage with 13:22 to play. The successful pass and catch capped an 80-yard, 10-play drive that further thinned the crowd.


LSU's lead inched larger little more than 6:00 later when Jackson finally found the gap between the two uprights. His 34-yard field goal into the emptying south endzone capped a seven-play Tiger drive that consumed 3:29 of the fourth quarter and made the score 24-0.

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