Third-Quarter Domination Lifts Tigers to 38-14 Win Over USC
BATON ROUGE — LSU came out of the lockerroom at halftime on fire, scoring 25 third-quarter points for the first time in 25 years and opened a 31-14 lead on the way to its sixth-consecutive victory, 38-14, over South Carolina on Saturday night in an electrified Death Valley.
The Tigers improved to 6-1 overall and 3-0 in the Southeastern Conference for the first time since 1987 when the 10-1-1 LSU team started 4-0 in the SEC.
South Carolina (5-3, 3-2 SEC) saw its four-game winning streak stopped.
Sophomore quarterback Marcus Randall, starting his first game as a Tiger in place of Matt Mauck, was poised and nearly flawless for the Tigers, completing 12-of-24 passes for 183 yards while mixing in a deadly option for 36 yards on six carries and a 12-yard touchdown run.
Michael Clayton and Reggie Robinson were Randall’s favorite targets through the air, as Clayton finished with five receptions for 77 yards and Robinson had 55 yards on three receptions. Senior Jerel Myers had a pair of catches for 45 yards.
The ground game came alive in the second half to give the Tigers 231 yards on 45 carries and three touchdowns for the game. Domanick Davis finished with 113 yards on 26 carries and a touchdown, while Shyrone Carey added 68 yards on six carries and a touchdown.
LSU outrushed the Gamecocks, 231-148, including 164-9 in the second half. On the second-to-last play from scrimmage, a 26-yard completion from Corey Jenkins to Corey Taylor gave South Carolina a final total of 275 yards of total offense. Jenkins finished the game 5-of-12 for 65 yards with two interceptions and a touchdown. Backup Dondrial Pinkins came into the game late in the third quarter and completed 4-of-9 passes for 54 yards.
In the third quarter, LSU scored on three consecutive offensive possessions and had an interception touchdown return to complete the most productive quarter of LSU football since the Tigers put up 35 on Rice on Sept. 24, 1977.
With little more than 10 minutes remaining, Randall kept an option play for a 12-yard score around the right side, while John Corbello made his third of three field goals from 37 yards and Shyrone Carey scored from 13 yards out.
One play after Carey’s rush, cornerback Demetrius Hookfin leapt to snag a screen pass at the USC 10-yard line and walked in for the score and a 31-14 lead with 2:07 to play in the pivotal quarter.
LSU won the toss and elected to defer to the second half, while South Carolina took the ball to start the game against the Tigers’ No. 1-ranked defense (207.8 yards per game), which started the game must more munificent than its previous six games.
After picking up third-down conversions on a quarterback draw by Jenkins and a pass interference call against LSU, Jenkins found Williamson streaking along the right sideline past Corey Webster for a 60-yard touchdown reception. With 10:30 remaining in the first quarter, South Carolina led 7-0.
The touchdown was only the third through the air that the Tigers have allowed in the 2002 season and it was only the second first-quarter touchdown scored against LSU this season.
Randall and the Tigers responded on their first drive of the game with a 10-play, 62-yard drive that resulted in a 42-yard field goal by Corbello. On the drive, Randall didn’t face a third down until the Tigers reached the South Carolina 27-yard line. LSU trailed 7-3 with 6:07 to play in the first quarter.
As the defenses tried to figure out the opposition in the first quarter, the offenses were averaging 7.6 yards per play.
A 16-yard pass from Randall to Robinson dug the Tigers out of a penalty-marred hole and set up a 56 yard punt by Donnie Jones that was muffed to the USC 4-yard line as the first quarter ended.
However, the Gamecocks drove 96 yards in 14 plays including a fake punt from the USC 47 for 8 yards, an end-around for 22 and a 9-yard touchdown run by Andrew Pinnock. South Carolina led 14-3 with 9:23 on the second-quarter clock.
After a 38-yard kickoff return by Devery Henderson, LSU earned back-to-back first downs on a 14-yard reception by Clayton and a 15-yard rush by Davis to the USC 26. However, the drive stalled at the 21 when Randall was tackled behind the line and then threw an incomplete pass under pressure on third down. Corbello’s 42-yard field goal attempt bounced off the cross bar and back into the field of play with 6:49 left in the half.
With 4:56 to play in the half, LSU earned another offensive possession by stopping the Gamecocks in LSU territory. After facing a second down and 29 from its 19, Randall hit Robinson for 18 yards before Bennie Brazell was interfered with on a deep pass to give the Tigers a first down on the USC 48 with 14.7 seconds on the clock.
After an incomplete pass, Clayton reached back and stole a Randall pass from a defender and landed on the ground for a first down with one second left in the half. LSU called timeout and set up a 48-yard field goal by Corbello. This kick was true and LSU trailed 14-6 as the first half clock expired.
LSU took the ball to start the second half and didn’t waste a second moving down field. After Davis started the drive with a 39-yard kickoff return to the 42, the Tigers drove the next 58 yards in 10 plays, capped by a 12-yard option keeper by Randall for a touchdown. The two-point conversion from Randall to Clayton in the right front corner of the endzone to tie the game at 14-14 with 10:07 left in the third quarter.
An play-action pass from Jenkins deep into Tiger territory was intercepted by Demetrius Hookfin at the 20 to give LSU the ball right back.
Using the option to rush for 27 yards on two plays to the South Carolina 38, Randall then connected with Robinson for 21 yards to the 17. However, the drive stalled after a penalty and an incomplete pass, as LSU settled for Corbello’s third field goal of the evening from 37 yards.
The Tigers took their first lead, 17-14 with 6:31 to play in the third quarter.
LSU’s defense backed South Carolina to its 11 on three plays for minus-1 yard before forcing a punt. On the short field, LSU began on USC’s 49 and drove to the 27 before being stopped. Corbello made a 44-yard field goal, however, he was roughed on the play to give LSU a first down at the 13 yard line.
On the next play, sophomore Shyrone Carey ran around the right end and through one final Gamecock defender at the goalline for his first touchdown as a Tiger.
LSU led 24-14 with 2:22 left in the third quarter.
Without missing a beat, the LSU kickoff team stopped South Carolina at its 15 before Hookfin intercepted an attempted screen pass from Jenkins at the 10 and strolled in the endzone for a 31-14 lead just 15 seconds after Carey’s run.
To cap the scoring for the Tigers, a 42-yard run by Carey to the USC 5 set up a touchdown run by Davis with 3:13 to play.
LSU returns to action on Oct. 26 when the Tigers visit The Plains and Auburn University at 11:30 a.m. on Jefferson Pilot Sports.
LSU Game Notes
- LSU’s captains for the game were permanent captains Bradie James and Domanick Davis as well as Kenderick Allen.
- LSU won the toss and elected to defer. South Carolina received to start the game and LSU defended the North endzone.
- The crowd of 91,340 is the second largest of the year and the eighth largest all-time in Tiger Stadium. It is also the 17th straight home game the attendance has eclipsed 85,000 and the 11th time overall Death Valley has held more than 90,000.
- LSU won its sixth straight game overall, the longest streak since winning six straight to close last season.
- LSU won its seventh straight SEC game (including 2001 SEC Championship), the longest streak since winning nine straight from 1969-71.
- LSU has won eight straight home games, including a four-game home-win streak over conference teams, the longest since an eight-game streak between 1995 and 1996.
- LSU has won four straight overall against the SEC East.
- LSU won a game after trailing at the half for the first time since trailing 17-10 at the half to Tennessee in the 2001 SEC Championship game.
- The Tigers moved to 3-0 in SEC play for the first time since 1987.
- With its first-quarter field goal, LSU assured itself of not being shutout for the 70th consecutive game dating back to 1996. The 70 straight games ties a school record set between 1985 and 1991.
- South Carolina’s 60-yard touchdown pass on the opening possession was the longest play of the year against the Tigers. It also ended a streak of eight straight games in which LSU had not allowed an opening drive score.
- LSU trailed at the end of the first quarter and at the end of the half for the first time since the season opener.
- LSU allowed a rushing touchdown for the first time in three games in the second quarter.
- The 96-yard touchdown drive by South Carolina in the second quarter was the longest against LSU this season, replacing an 87-yard drive Miami (Ohio) had.
- LSU has now intercepted a pass in six straight games and returned one for a touchdown in three of those contests: Citadel (Damien James), Florida (Corey Webster), South Carolina (Demetrius Hookfin).
- For the sixth straight game, LSU scored more than 30 points.
- LSU’s 25 third-quarter points were the most for the Tigers in a quarter since scoring 27 in the second frame of the 2002 Sugar Bowl against Illinois. They are the most in a quarter in a regular season game since scoring 35 in the third against Rice in 1977. The 25 points are the most in an SEC game since a 28-point fourth quarter against Ole Miss in 1970.
- After outscoring South Carolina 25-0 in the third quarter LSU has now outscored their opponents 72-10 in the third quarter, including a 48-0 in SEC contests.
- LSU moved to 10-0 under Nick Saban when getting a rusher to 100 yards, including 4-0 when it is Domanick Davis.
- LSU rushed for more than 200 yards for the sixth straight time, the longest streak since 1973: Auburn (239), Kentucky (247), South Carolina (346), Ole Miss (290), Mississippi State (299), Alabama (212).
- LSU has kept seven straight opponents under 300 total yards for the first time since 1976 when they held Nebraska (256), Oregon State (182), Rice (164), Florida (293), Vanderbilt (213), Kentucky (210) and Ole Miss (132) below 300. South Carolina became the first team to accumulate more than 250 total yards against LSU this season.
- The two-point conversion completed to tie the game, 14-14, was the second successful two-point conversion for LSU on the season, with the other coming late against Virginia Tech.
- Jerel Myers extended his team best streak of consecutive starts to 32. Rodney Reed pushed his streak to 28 while Demetrius Hookfin and Bradie James have started 20 and 15 consecutive games, respectively. Norman LeJuene and Stephen Peterman have each started 13 straight games.
- On his 22-yard first quarter kickoff return, Domanick Davis passed Robert Dow (1,780) for the top spot in LSU history for career kickoff return yards. Davis also moved into fifth in SEC history. He finished the game with 1,836 career kickoff return yards.
- Jerel Myers made his first reception in four games on the first offensive play for LSU.
- With 12 points, John Corbello moved into 18th place (12th among kickers) in SEC history for career points scored with 251.
- Reggie Robinson made his first reception in four games on a 16-yard play late in the first quarter.
- With a 56-yard punt on the last play of the first quarter, Donnie Jones tied his season best punt, which came against The Citadel.
- Michael Clayton made a catch for the 20th consecutive game, each game in his career.
- John Corbello set a new career high with his 48-yard field goal to end the first half. It was the longest field goal by an LSU player since Wade Richey’s 54-yard field goal against Kentucky on Oct. 19, 1996.
- On a 12-yard scamper in the third quarter, Marcus Randall scored his first career touchdown.
- Demetrius Hookfin intercepted two passes (one for a touchdown) which marked the first time he picked off two passes in a game. He now has three interceptions on the season and five for his career.
- On his 14-yard third-quarter reception, Jerel Myers moved into ninth place in LSU history for career receiving yards by passing Carlos Carson (1,728). Myers finished the game with 1,736 career yards.
- Shyrone Carey scored his first career touchdown on a 13-yard run in the third quarter. He also had a career-long run of 42 yards.
- Domanick Davis passed Eddie Kennison (438) for third place on LSU’s single season punt return yardage list. Davis finished the game with 439 punt return yards this season.
- Domanick Davis rushed for 113 yards, the fifth time in his career and the second time this season he has gained more than 100 yards.
- With 201 all-purpose yards, Domanick Davis eclipsed the 200-yard plateau for the third time this season.
- With eight tackles, Bradie James tied Steve Cassidy for third in LSU history with 346 career tackles.
LSU HEAD COACH NICK SABAN QUOTES
Oct. 19, 2002
SOUTH CAROLINA GAME
“Well I would say that was a nice third quarter and one of the best I have ever been around. 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 were not putting up any points. Defensively we looked as out of sync as we have probably all year. I think we got a little bit confused by some of their formations, they basically had three wide outs in the game and went regular people, so we were back and forth in terms of what we were doing and we probably did not do a good job of preparation by us. That is not something that they got our guys out of sync a little bit and we did not play very well. They hit us with some trick plays and some big plays in the game, some things that we had guarded against.”
“I thought Marcus Randall did a phenomenal job out there today as a first-time starter. I think the experience that he has gained in the few games that he has been in this year obviously helped him some, but I thought he played an outstanding game. Not once did he ever lose his composure in the game. He played through and mistakes that he made and made a lot of very good plays. I thought Domanick Davis did an outstanding job of running and playing with great character. Our offensive line obviously for us to put up over 400 yards and over 200 rushing did an outstanding job as well. I am really pleased with the total team effort, I think special teams did a great job in the second half because they never really had any good field position ever in the second half. I think it was all contributed to the good play of kickoff coverage and other special teams. We made some big plays on defense, I think the score and then to come right back with the turnover and then another turnover probably was a momentum changer for us in the game. The drive og the game was to take the ball in the second half and go right down the field and score, and I think that was a real key.”
“I think the coaching staff did a really good job of making some adjustments at halftime that probably put us in better position, especially on defense, and I am just really pleased with the effort in the second half. I think there is a lesson to be learned here that South Carolina is an excellent football team and in this league, as I told the team, if you are not ready to play every game and every game you are going to get yourself in trouble. We got ourselves in trouble in the first half and thank goodness that we were at home because we had a great home crowd. The momentum swung for us in the third quarter and it was a great third quarter for us.”
QUOTES FROM SOUTH CAROLINA HEAD COACH LOU HOLTZ
“We lost to a football team that played one heck of a football game tonight. They didn’t have a turnover. They didn’t make many mistakes and I thought that their tailback and their quarterback were outstanding. They tackled very well and I think that’s attributed to their defense. We didn’t cover very well, but I think that’s attributed to their offense.”
“I thought that in the first half, we played an excellent football game. I thought that we played a nice football game offensively. We dropped one touchdown pass which was critical. I thought that in the first half we could mix it up offensively between run and pass for some success, but once we got behind the eight ball and they could bring it, that’s the thing that you can’t do. We couldn’t play catch-up against them and we knew that.”
“The dropped pass just before the half and then the drive of 80 yards just before the half hurt us, but we went into halftime and I said ‘Hey, if I would have told you that we would have been winning 14-6, you would have been excited.’ There was just something missing.”
“I’m disappointed in myself. We came out in the second half and we couldn’t cover kickoffs. Our kickoffs and our kickoff returns were an absolute disaster, but I thought that our punt game was excellent. We had some great punt coverage tonight.”
On how LSU stacks up against the other teams that they have played
“I think that LSU is very talented. I think that they are very well coached and I think that they are very good. I don’t think that there’s any doubt about that. They have some tremendous runners and I thought that their quarterback Randall did a great job. I congratulate that young man. He stepped in and played one heck of a fine football game. He really ran the team well. They had good chemistry and I think that they are an excellent football team.”
LSU Defensive Player Quotes
October 19, 2002 South Carolina Game
Cornerback Corey Webster
“We got off to a slow start, and wanted to pick it up going into the third quarter. We needed to start playing LSU football and that is what we did. Coach Saban told us at halftime that we were not playing our style of ball that we were capable of. We came out in the second half and focused on fundamentals and technique.”
…on the play of Marcus Randall
“Marcus (Randall) said he was going to keep us off the field in the third quarter and that is what he did. He played well tonight. I am best friends with him, and I knew he was going to do well.”
Cornerback Demetrius Hookfin
“We came in at halftime and Coach Saban told us we needed to work harder. While we played sloppy in the first half, we came out and dominated the second half and kept our heads up. We had a lot of players stepping up and making big plays tonight. The hard work in practice has paid off. Our execution in the second half showed that.”
…on his second interception
“I read the receiver when he was going to crack the linebacker. I saw the tailback staying in the backfield, so I just read it and picked it off.” Defensive Tackle Chad Lavalais “We were all calm at half time. We knew we had another half do get the job done. I think we were a little nervous in the first half. They gave us their best shot in the first half, and we knew we were capable of playing a lot better. We made a few corrections at halftime and played our style of football in the second half.”
“We were blitzing them constantly in the first half. We made a change to play more of a base defense and come after them only on third down. That made a big difference in the second half. Their quarterback got a few big runs on us and played well. We got after them a little more and wore them down in the second half. It felt good to hold them down like we did in the third quarter. Monday, we will meet and get ready for next week.”
October 19, 2002
LSU vs. South Carolina
LSU QB Marcus Randall
“The game turned out just like I figured it would. We came out and moved the ball well. We practiced well all week and prepared for this team. The team did a great job.
“At halftime we were down. We had moved the ball well, but we kept shooting ourselves in the foot with penalties. We knew we could come back out, move the ball, establish the line of scrimmage, and that’s what we did.”
“The field goal right before half was a big turning point in the game. 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 put it in the endzone and go for two.”
LSU WR Michael Clayton
“When it comes right down to it, you just have to make the play. I feel that every play is a clutch play and you have to treat it all the same. You have to keep your eyes on the ball and make the catch whatever down it is and whatever play it is.”
“We (the receivers) were totally back Randall tonight. We tried to let him know we were there for him and that we were going to run our routes to perfection. We told him all he had to do was deliver us the ball and we were going to catch it. We did that to perfection tonight.
“Every game we have someone step and make big plays and that’s a sign of a great team. We’ve had some guys go down in the past but LSU hasn’t lost a step. We have that ability to make the big play. We had that at the beginning of the season and now it’s just slowly coming around. Now things are popping and we’re asking for a war and week in and week out we’re getting one.”
“We knew he (Randall) was going to play well. I have said in previous interviews that we weren’t going to lose a step because Marcus is a mobile quarterback and he can deliver the ball as well as run the ball. Teams haven’t seen him and they don’t really know his ability and that works to his advantage.”
LSU RB/KR Domanick Davis
“The boy (Randall) did a great job. He was real confident coming in. He had a great week of practice. I knew he was going to do a great job. After he got a few plays under his belt, he was real relaxed and showed great leadership in the game.”
“When you have somebody on the team go down you just have to step up and fill the shoes. You have to do your best to help the team win and that’s exactly what I’m doing.”
“The flow of the game felt the same to me. Randall did a great job. He showed a whole lot of leadership, he was very confident.
“It feels great when you go out there and execute on all your plays. It’s a good feeling. The line, the offense, everyone is doing a great job.”
QUOTES FROM SOUTH CAROLINA PLAYERS
NT Langston Moore
“A couple of key plays really got us off our rocker. We can come out and stopped them on second and third down, and we got a pass interference and gave them some momentum back. Then we ran into the kicker. Instead of giving them three points we gave them six. That really got the crowd and the momentum behind them that young team and they just got going.”
“We came out being 14-6 going into the fourth quarter everyone was excited. Every body thought that we would not have to pour it on them, but this is the defending SEC champions and they poured it back on us.”
About the end of the 3rd quarter
“That final run where we had a blitz going our way, and he shot right pass me and there was no hold call. I couldn’t get off and I just knew the momentum was theirs. I knew the game was lost, all you could do was keep fighting and try to hold the score down.”
“This is a well coached team and they are at home. LSU is capable of doing this to anybody. This is not an indicator of anything. This is just one night.”
QB Corey Jenkins
“We played Carolina football in the first half. We went into the locker room and didn’t feel real good about the first half. But, I did. I felt that we executed pretty well. We just knew that is was going to be a sixty minute game.”
“The third quarter, what happened? I do not know. This place got crazy and momentum changed and it was 30-14.”
“We did not know what was missing, but I felt pretty good about the first half. I felt like we were taking it to them and hitting them in the mouth. They saw a team like, ‘oh my god’ that was pretty good. I tell you what. That was the number one defense in the country and in the second half they showed why. When you don’t execute well against those guys, they make you pay for it.”
Safety Rashad Faison
“Number 12 had an excellent game. Who would have thought that he would come in and play as phenomenal as he did. There is no excuse. They played a great football game, and we made some mistakes that we should not have.”
“I had no negatives cross my mind. I have been in this position before, and we have come to fight. Who cares if the crowd is in it? We have to understand that it is time to get tougher. The only people on the field that could get the crowd quiet was us.”