Tigers cold-cock South Carolina in second half

LSU spotted South Carolina a 14-3 lead in the first half of their game Saturday night at Tiger Stadium, but got back on track with a dominating second half.<br><br>With quarterback Marcus Randall shining in his first career start, the 14th-ranked Tigers rebounded for 35 unanswered points in a resounding 38-14 win before a crowd of 91,340 at Tiger Stadium.

South Carolina was able to move the ball effectively early with its spread offense, but LSU regrouped to hold the Gamecocks to a single yard in the third quarter. Highlighting the Tigers' strong defensive performance was senior cornerback Demetrius Hookfin, who had two interceptions with one returned for a touchdown.

 

The Tigers improved to 6-1 on the season with their sixth straight win the Southeastern Conference dating back to last season. They're currently 3-0 in league games and lead the SEC West Division following an Ole Miss loss at Alabama. LSU travels to face Auburn (4-3, 2-2) next week in a game that will kickoff at 11:30 a.m. for broadcast on Jefferson Pilot.

 

South Carolina is now 5-3 overall and 3-2 in the SEC, and Lou Holtz is 0-2 against LSU dating back to his previous meeting against the Tigers in 1986 with Notre Dame.

 

Randall, replacing the injured Matt Mauck, completed 12 of 23 passes for 183 yards with no interceptions and scored a touchdown on one of his six runs for 36 yards. The 12-yard option keeper from Randall at 10:07 in the third quarter was part of 25 points the Tigers posted in the period.

 

"That was a nice third quarter and one of the best I have ever been around," said LSU head coach Nick Saban. "I think it is a real tribute to our players because we didn't play extremely well in the first half. I thought we were doing a good job on offense; we just weren't putting up any points."

 

Saban credited South Carolina's offensive formations with confusing his defense in the first half, but he made adjustments at halftime that called for the Tigers to play out of their basic scheme.

 

But before LSU could make their changes, the Gamecocks rolled up 212 yards of total offense in the first half with quarterback Corey Jenkins combining for 98 on the ground and through the air. He gave South Carolina a 7-0 lead with a 60-yard scoring pass to Troy Williamson on the opening drive of the ball game.

 

LSU answered with a 42-yard John Corbello field goal on their first possession but fell behind 14-3 when USC mounted a 14-play, 96-yard drive that ended in the second quarter with a nine-yard Andrew Pinnock touchdown run. During the drive, the Gamecocks successfully converted a fourth-and-5 at their own 47 with a fake punt pass play.

 

Corbello got another chance from 42 yards out but saw his kick bounce off the crossbar, but he made good on a 48-yarder as time expired in the first half.

 

"The field goal right before half was a big turning point in the game," said Randall. "It put us down just one score with a two-point conversion and we knew we were going to get the ball back after halftime. We knew we were going to come out and put it in the end zone and go for two."

 

Following his third quarter touchdown run, Randall tied the game with a two-point conversion pass to Michael Clayton. On the first play of the ensuing possession, South Carolina gave the ball back to the Tigers when Jenkins threw deep on first down and was intercepted by Hookfin at the LSU 20.

 

The turnover helped the Tigers take their first lead when the drove down and set up Corbello for his third field goal of the night, a 37-yard kick with 6:45 to go in the third quarter.

 

The LSU lead climbed to 24-14 on the Tigers' next possession on a 13-yard run from Shyrone Carey. The scoring drive started at the LSU 49 when the Gamecocks were forced to punt out of their own end zone.

 

The kickoff coverage for the Tigers put South Carolina in a hole on that possession and did so again after Carey's score. Starting at the USC 15, Jenkins dropped deep and unwisely floated a pass to the left flat where Hookfin was waiting with open arms. He caught the ball at the 10 and went into the end zone untouched for a touchdown. Corbello's point-after gave LSU a 31-14 lead with eight seconds remaining in the third quarter.

 

"I read the receiver when he was going to crack the linebacker," said Hookfin. "I saw the tailback staying in the backfield so I just read it and picked it off."

 

The final score for the Tigers came with 3:13 left in the game. LSU had long since gone to their ball-control mode and Domanick Davis completed a 10-play, 76-yard drive with a 5-yard scoring run around left end. Davis handled the bulk of the running chores for LSU, getting 26 carries and gaining 113 yards. He hit his stride in the third quarter during the Tigers' scoring drives and accounted for 84 return yards for a 197-yard all-purpose performance.

 

"The game turned out just like I figured it would," said Randall. We came out and moved the ball well. We practiced all week and prepared for this team. The team did a great job."

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