NO SWEAT! Tigers trounce Tech 58-10

LSU needed a break. It needed a respite and a breather. So did its fans.

After four nail-biters against top-25 ranked Southeastern Conference in the last five weeks, the Tigers breathed a little deeper Saturday with a 58-10 mashing of Louisiana Tech in Tiger Stadium.

Led by a 321 yard rushing attack that featured runs of 87 and 53 yards, the LSU offense piled up 595 total yards while holding the outmanned and outgunned Bulldogs to 256.

"We rushed the ball well. We hit some good passes," said LSU Coach Les Miles. "Defensively (Louisiana Tech) made some plays early to score some points. Our defense played better in the second half, the style that we expect."

The win improved LSU's overall record to 9-1 and earned the Tigers the No.1 ranking in the country after an earlier 28-21 loss to Illinois by previously first-ranked and unbeaten Ohio State. The Tigers also discovered shortly before the game's start they had clenched the SEC Western division after Alabama lost to Mississippi State and Auburn was defeated handily by Georgia earlier in the day.

The loss dropped the Bulldogs' overall record to 4-6 in advance of a key Western Athletic Conference showdown next Saturday against San Jose State.

LSU took an early 10-0 lead thanks to a fumble by Louisiana Tech quarterback Zac Champion on the game's second play and a bad snap on a punt attempt on the second Bulldog possession. Louisiana Tech was able to cut the lead to 10-7 early in the second quarter after Tiger quarterback Matt Flynn tossed one of two first half interceptions.

But, that was the only whiff of an upset the Bulldogs had as LSU reeled off 34 unanswered points before Tech added a field goal early in the fourth quarter.

"We spotted them 10 (points). We went out there and fumbled a snap which is ridiculous," said Louisiana Tech Coach Derek Dooley, a former LSU assistant coach.

Jacob Hester headed the list of eight Tiger players to gain positive rushing yards by finishing with 115 yards on 11 carries including a career-long 87-yard, third quarter scamper that tied the fifth-longest touchdown run in LSU history.

Flynn made up for the two first-half interceptions by completing 14-of-26 for 237 yards and three touchdowns before giving way to Ryan Perrilloux in the fourth quarter who had a touchdown throw of his own.

Champion completed 20-of-39 passes for 189 yards and a touchdown.

Tiger defensive end Tyson Jackson and linebacker Ali Highsmith both jumped on top of Champion's fumbled snap at the Louisiana Tech 24 just 30 seconds in giving LSU the chance to take the lead before the fans had a chance to settle in their seats.

Two plays later, LSU receiver Terrance Tolliver carried an end around past the Tech defense to the 1-yard line. Three plays after that, Flynn plunged into the north end zone giving the Tigers a 7-0 lead with 12:51 to play in the first quarter and capping a 1:39 drive.

Louisiana Tech responded by driving the ball to the LSU 31 before stalling thanks to errant passes. A fake field goal attempt was then thwarted by the Tiger special teams and LSU took over at its 29.

LSU drove the ball just across midfield on the next possession but failed to advance any further and punted. The Bulldogs tried to punt four plays after that at their 20, but deep snapper Thomas Graham somehow launched the snap directly into his upper thigh and LSU recovered another fumble deep in Tech territory.

Colt David extended the LSU lead to 10-0 on a 31-yard field goal with 3:35 to play in the quarter after the Tigers failed to pick up a first down.

Louisiana Tech's next drive stalled near the LSU 30-yard line again. LSU took its turn to turn the ball over five plays later when Flynn tired to squeeze a pass between defenders to Tolliver. Instead of landing in Tolliver's arms, Bulldog defensive back Deon Young hit the turf with the ball at the Louisiana Tech 48.

Two plays and just 15 seconds later, Champion connected with Brian Jackson on a 37-yard touchdown pass that cut the LSU lead to 10-7 with 13:14 to play in the first half.

LSU responded by driving the ball 39 yards in the next plays to the Tech 27 yard line. But, Flynn was hurried into an incompletion by the Bulldog blitz on third down and David entered the game for his second field goal. This time, he booted the ball true from 44-yards out to give LSU a 13-7 lead with 10:40 to play in the half.

The Tigers extended that lead to 20-7 on their next possession when Flynn spotted Terrance Tolliver in single coverage streaking along west sideline and hit him in stride for a 71-yard touchdown strike. The catch and sprint ended a blink-of-an-eye short, three-play drive that consumed just 1:04.

Tolliver finished with three catches for a game-high 119 yards.

LSU extended the lead further with just 56 seconds remaining the half thanks to three passes from Flynn to Brandon LaFell and a bonus 15 yards on a late hit penalty against the Bulldogs. The Tigers claimed possession at their 25 yard line with 1:42 to play in the half before LaFell reeled in passes of nine, 17 and 37 yards on the next three plays to swell the Tiger lead to 27-7 on just a 46 second drive.

The Bulldogs appeared poised to cut into that lead after Phillip Livas returned the ensuing kickoff 76 yards to the Tiger 19. But, after a 12-yard pass gave his team a 1st-and-goal at the 7, Champion launched an ill-advised pass into the corner of the end zone that was picked off by LSU defensive back Jonathan Zenon, ending the scoring threat.

David padded the lead by three more when he capped a nine-play, 2:42 drive to open the second half with a 28-yard field goal making the Tiger lead 30-7.

The lead swelled again on LSU's next possession as the usual sledge-hammer Hester displayed some break-away speed. He took a straight dive handoff on 3rd-and-2 at the LSU 13 and raced through the Louisiana Tech defense all the way to the south end zone. The run extended the lead to 37-7 after a 94-yard, 59-second drive.

LSU's defense set up the next score when middle linebacker Luke Sanders tipped a Champion pass in the air near midfield, giving fellow linebacker Jacob Cutrera the chance to run under and intercept the pass.

The Tigers took over at the Bulldog 39 and needed just three plays and 49 seconds to make the score 44-7. Flynn connected with tight end Richard Dickson standing wide open for a 14-yard touchdown pass with 8:02 remaining in the third quarter.

Wholesale substitutions followed the score as LSU played backups at every position on defense. Louisiana Tech responded by driving the ball to the LSU 22-yard line on an 11-play drive that ended with a 38-yard field goal by Danny Horwedel to run the score to 44-10 with 13:09 remaining in the game.

But, the little bit of consolation granted Louisiana Tech by the field goal fleeted quickly as the Tigers marched down the field 72 yards in the next 3:29 to extend the lead to 51-10 with 9:20 to play. Trindon Holliday raced into the end zone from the 15-yard line to cap the drive and further empty the stands.

The lead was padded further when Perrilloux connected with tight end Mit Cole in the back of the north end zone for a two-yard touchdown pass with 4:39 to play in the game to extend the lead to 58-10.

"All in all we got a number of guys off the field early and got the victory," Miles said. "We now look forward to the remainder of our schedule."

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