Da Boot Sports
By: Terrill J. Weil
STARKVILLE, MS: Revenge minded LSU headed into Starkville on Saturday and came away with a 28-25 payback victory against the Bulldogs for last season's 44-34 embarrassing loss in Tiger Stadium. After a low scoring first half, both teams eventually turn the contest into a shootout late as the final five of six possessions ended with a touchdown.
The LSU offense proved to be just as dangerous, if not more explosive then the Bulldogs Air-Raid attack, while the Tigers defensive game plan was to play with a three man front forcing State to beat them on the ground and with check down passes. The Bulldogs moved up and down the field with ease throughout most of the contest, but a couple of turnovers and a handful of LSU stops were just enough to hold on for the win.
The Bulldogs took the opening kickoff and began to easily move the ball down the field with ease, but after driving 45 yards in six plays, Will Rogers would complete a pass in the flat to Malik Heath. Cordale Flott would come up and hit Heath immediately causing a fumble. Damone Clark picked up the ball and returned it 35 yards to the State 35 yard line.
LSU was able to take advantage of the turnover, going 35 yards in nine plays, with Max Johnson hitting Kayshon Boutte in the end zone from 11 yards out for the score. Key play of the drive was a three yard gain by Ty Davis-Price on a 4th and one to keep the drive going. 7-0 Tigers with 9:04 to go in the first quarter.
After the teams would trade punts, the Bulldogs would start a drive from their own 37 yard line. Once again, State moved quickly into LSU territory, but on a 2nd and five from the LSU 25, Cordale Flott would pick off Rogers at the Tigers 11 yard line to end the drive.
Mississippi State would finally get on the scoreboard driving 80 yards in 14 plays settling for a 23 yard Nolan McCord field goal after the LSU defense would come up with a huge stop at their own two yard line.
Both teams headed to the locker rooms at the half with LSU on top 7-3.
LSU received the second half kickoff, then went Air-Raid on the Bulldogs. On the second play of the half, Max Johnson would find Kayshon Boutte on a deep slant for a 64 yard touchdown. LSU's explosive drive would go 75 yards on two plays taking only :38 seconds off the clock. 14-3 Tigers with 14:22 to go in the 3rd.
Later in the 3rd quarter with 3:45 left on the clock, LSU added to their lead in electric fashion taking only one play. On 1st and ten from the their own 42 yard line, Max Johnson would find a very wide open Trey Palmer deep down the center of the field for a 58 yard touchdown. Palmer was so wide open due to a bust in the secondary that we was able to slowly back pedal the final ten yards into the end zone. Cade York added his third PAT of the day to give the Tigers a 21-3 advantage with 3:35 left in the 3rd.
The Bulldogs had moved the ball well all game long between the 20s, but would struggle to put points on the scoreboard. However, State would finally find the end zone on their next drive. Will Rogers would find Makai Polk for a 29 yard touchdown. It took the Bulldogs eight plays to go 75 yards in 3:09 cutting the LSU lead to 21-10 to end the 3rd quarter.
The game began to shape into a track meet as LSU continued to play explosive offense, with a little help on this possession. The drive actually stalled at the Tigers 37 yard line, but on 4th and 8 the Bulldogs committed a personal foul during the punt giving LSU new life to take advantage of. Three plays later Kole Taylor would catch a pass that looked to be intended for a covered Kayshon Boutte, then rumbled 41 yards up the far sidelines for a touchdown. 28-10 Tigers with 11:32 left in the contest.
The late second half track meet would continue as Mississippi State would refuse to quit, battling back to score again. The Bulldogs would march 75 yards in 12 plays, ending the drive with Rogers hitting Austin Williams in the end zone for a 2 yard touchdown. The PAT was good, as State would pull to within 28-17 with 6:48 remaining.
The Bulldogs would end up scoring on their third straight possession after a LSU three and out. With the LSU defense beginning to look tired, Will Rogers again led his team on another 12 play drive, culminating with a Rogers to Jo'guavious Marks 16 yard touchdown pass. State would convert the 2 point conversion attempt to trim the Tigers lead to three, 28-25 with 1:52 left in the game.
The Bulldogs would attempt on-side kick, but the ball never traveled the ten plus yards necessary with a Bulldog player touching the ball first. Mike Leach challenged the play but lost, which used up his final timeout allowing LSU to simply lineup in victory formation and kneel the clock down to zero.
The Tigers did what they needed to secure the win, improving their record to 3-1 overall, 1-0 in SEC play. The defense continues to show improvement under defensive coordinator Daronte Jones who installed a nice game plan. LSU's passing attack at times resembles the 2019 offense, but they still CAN'T run the football. You will unlikely find success against Florida, Alabama, or Arkansas if you're one-dimensional. Another concern is the injuries that have been mounting up at certain positions.
Max Johnson continues to play well as he finished the game, 17-27 for 280 yards, with 4 touchdowns and 1 INT.
Ty Davis-Price was the team's leading rusher today carrying 13 times for 51 yards. Both Corey Kiner and Armoni Goodwin saw limited action but need to see the field much more.
Several receivers made big plays in the game. Kayshon Boutte had 4 catches for 85 yards and two touchdowns... Trey Palmer had 1 catch and it was for a 58 yard touchdown... Kole Taylor had 1 catch for a 41 yard touchdown that ended up being the difference in the game... Brian Thomas had 43 yards on three grabs.
On defense Damone Clark had a monster game with 15 tackles... Micah Baskerville totaled 11 tackles... Major Burns finished with 9 tackles,... while Cordale Flott had 8 tackles, and made two of the biggest defensive plays of the game, forcing a huge fumble and pulling in an interception,... and Ali Gaye racked up 6 tackles and a sack...
The Tigers (3-1) return home next Saturday to take on the 3-1 Auburn Tigers in another huge SEC West matchup. Kickoff is set for 8:00pm CST and will be televised on ESPN.