Tide Hands LSU 31-0 Loss; Tigers Maintain SEC West Lead

by LSUsports.net (@LSUsports)
+0
Tide Hands LSU 31-0 Loss; Tigers Maintain SEC West Lead

BATON ROUGE — Led by Santonio Beard’s 109 rushing yards and two touchdowns and Shaud Williams’ 131 rushing yards, 10th-ranked Alabama tallied 300 yards on the ground against the No. 1-ranked LSU defense to run away with a 31-0 victory in front of 92,012, the second-largest crowd in Tiger Stadium history.

The Tigers dropped their second game in league play and fell to 7-3 overall and 4-2 in Southeastern Conference play. Alabama, which is ineligible for the conference title due to NCAA sanctions against its football program, improved to 9-2 and 6-1 in league play.

LSU’s loss coupled with Auburn’s dramatic 24-21 loss at Georgia kept LSU the conference lead, a half game ahead of Auburn (7-4, 4-3) and in control of its own destiny in the league race with two games to play. The Tigers play host to Ole Miss (5-5, 2-4 SEC) on Nov. 23 in their final home game of the 2002 season. The game is set for a 7:30 p.m. CST kickoff to be nationally televised on ESPN2.

In its most stagnant offensive performance of the season, LSU totaled on 196 yards of total offense and rarely threatened the Tide even when given positive field position. Ten penalties for 77 yards also strangled the gasping Tigers’ squad.

The shutout was the first against LSU since the Tide beat LSU 27-0 in 1996, a span of 72 games. The loss was the worst in Tiger Stadium since dropping a 58-3 contest with No. 5 Florida on Oct. 9, 1993.

Starting quarterback Marcus Randall was 6-of-17 passing for only 39 yards, while his backup, redshirt freshman Rick Clausen, saw his first significant action as a Tigers. Clausen finished 3-of-6 for 26 yards in the fourth quarter. Randall led LSU on the ground, gaining 54 yards on six carries. Domanick Davis added 47 yards on nine carries and LaBrandon Toefield returned to the field after missing four games with a broken radius to rush six times for 22 yards.

Meanwhile, the Tigers’ defense had no answer for the Alabama rushing attack, and Tide quarterback Tyler Watt was just crafty enough to keep the secondary honest. Watts was 11-of-20 for 177 yards in the air and one touchdown. He also ran for a touchdown and had 37 yards rushing on 15 carries.

Alabama won the toss and elected to defer to the second half, giving LSU the ball to start the game. After a 61-yard kickoff return by Davis was nullified by a block in the back, the Tigers wasted no time advancing down the field into Tide territory, as Randall rushed for 15 yards on the first play from scrimmage before hitting Davis out of the backfield for 17 yards on third-and-5 from the LSU 35.

The drive stalled, however, at the Alabama 27 after a false start penalty forced a third and long from the 34. Corbello’s 44-yard field goal attempt was tipped and the line and came up very short.

On the ensuing possession, Alabama marched into Tiger territory in similar fashion as the Tigers, working its way to the LSU 23 before Watts was picked off by Demetrius Hookfin in the endzone to end the threat and give LSU the ball on its 20. The turnover was Alabama’s first in 194 plays dating back to the Tide’s Oct. 26 win at Tennessee.

The teams traded seven punts to end the first quarter and start the second, as neither team was able to creep into the other’s side of the field until six minutes before the end of the half.

Alabama used a 16-yard dash by Watts to reach the LSU 45 before Tide running back Shaud Williams sprinted 26 yards to the LSU 20. After a timeout by Alabama, the Tide tried and failed at a halfback pass from Williams to Sam Collins before gaining a first-and-goal from the 9 on an 11-yard reception by Triandos Luke. Two rushes later, Beard gave Alabama the game’s first score with 3:52 remaining. The point after attempt was missed to the right and the Tide led 6-0.

In an attempt to catch the Tigers off guard, Alabama attempted a “sky kick” of sorts on the kickoff. The kick sailed out of bounds at the LSU 44 to give the Tigers excellent field position as the half neared conclusion. However, a third-down run by Joseph Addai came up short and LSU was forced to punt.

Jones punt was downed at the Alabama 4-yard line with under two minutes to play. Nine plays and 96 yards later, the Tide went ahead 14-0. Four delayed draws led to rushes of 12, 19, 18 and 32 yards to set up a 2-yard touchdown run by Luke with 14.2 seconds left in the half.

With 2:45 remaining in the first half, Alabama starting nose tackle Kenny King suffered a neck or back injury after assisting a tackle of Randall and was taken off the field to LSU’s training room. His condition was unknown at the time of release.

Alabama took the ball to start the second half and converted its first third down on a 15-yard reception by Collins to the Bama 31. The Tide then went back two yards before punting.

Seemingly stymied on its next possession, LSU lined up to punt on fourth-and-10 from its 43. Instead, linebacker and senior captain Bradie James took the snap from deep snapper Wendell York and ran 29 yards to the Alabama 28. On the next play, Randall ran for eight yards up the middle before fumbling at the 20. Alabama recovered to stop the deepest penetration of the evening by the Tigers to that point.

An Alabama three-and-out again gave LSU good field position, but the Tigers weren’t able to get past the Tide’s 48 and punted.

Backed up to its 12 to start the drive, Alabama continued to befuddle the LSU defense as it drove 88 yards in 13 plays, taking 6:01 off the clock before Beard scored around the left side from 22 yards out. Another delayed draw to Beard sucked in the LSU defensive line and allowed the junior tailback to move over 100 yards rushing on the evening. Alabama led 21-0 with 14:45 to play in the game.

Rick Clausen entered in relief of Randall as the Tigers continued to search for a spark to its cold offensive unit. However, another three-and-out brought Jones in the game to punt for the seventh time.

Alabama went 28 yards in seven plays to tack on a field goal and put the game to rest with 10:43 remaining. The Tide added a 27-yard touchdown pass from Watts to Zach Fletcher with 4:07 to play to lead 31-0.

LSU Game Notes

  • LSU’s captains for the game were permanent captains Bradie James and Domanick Davis as well as Kenderick Allen and LaBrandon Toefield.
  • Alabama won the toss and elected to defer. LSU received to start the game and defended the South endzone.
  • Alabama’s Kenny King was injured with 2:45 remaining in the first half and was taken off the field on a stretcher.
  • The attendance for the game was 92,012, which is the largest crowd this year and the second largest crowd in Tiger Stadium history. It is the 18th consecutive game the attendance has been more than 85,000 and the 12th time the crowd has exceeded 90,000.

Team Notes

  • LSU had a field goal blocked for the second straight week. The Tigers have now had five kicks blocked this year (3 punts, 2 FGs).
  • LSU intercepted its 13th pass of the year.
  • This was the longest an LSU game has gone scoreless since the LSU-Alabama contest in 1998. In that game, LSU finally broke through with a touchdown with 3:30 remaining in the first half.
  • LSU’s opponent scored first for the fourth straight game.
  • LSU was held scoreless in the first half at home for the first time since the trailing UAB, 10-0, at intermission in 2000.
  • The Tigers fumble in the third quarter ended a string of seven straight quarters without a turnover.
  • LSU’s eight-game home win streak was snapped.
  • LSU’s school-record string of 72 consecutive games without being shutout was snapped.
  • LSU lost for just the second time under Nick Saban after Halloween. The other loss came to Arkansas in 2000.
  • The 30-point margin of defeat was the largest for LSU since falling 41-9 to No. 12 Florida in 2000. It was the largest home loss since a 41-7 loss to Auburn in 1999.
  • This was the worst shutout loss for LSU since falling 32-0 at Ole Miss in 1992. It’s the worst shutout loss at home for the Tigers since falling to Tulane 46-0 in 1948.
  • LSU allowed two 100-yard rushers for the first time since Duece McAlister and Joe Gunn ran for 140 and 135, respectively, in an Ole Miss win in 1999.
  • LSU allowed less than 200 yards passing for the ninth time in 10 games. Only Kentucky has thrown for better than 200 yards against the Tigers this year.
  • The 196 total yards was the fewest by LSU since the 14-3 loss to Arkansas in 2000 when the Tigers posted just 149 yards.

Individual Notes

  • Running back LaBrandon Toefield played for the first time since being injured against UL-Lafayette on Oct. 5. He entered the game with 3:47 remaining in the first quarter and got his first carry early in the second quarter.
  • Jerel Myers started for the 35th consecutive game, the longest streak on the team. Rodney Reed is next at 31 games while Bradie James pushed his streak to 18. Norman LeJuene and Stephen Peterman each started for the 16th straight game.
  • Eric Edwards caught his first pass since the South Carolina game on a 5-yard grab in the first quarter.
  • Demetrius Hookfin’s interception in the first quarter was his fourth of the season and the sixth of his career.
  • Michael Clayton caught a pass for the 23rd straight game, every game of his careeer.
  • Domanick Davis moved into sixth in LSU history for all-purpose yards in a season. He finished the game with 1,543 yards on the year.
  • On his first rush of the game, LaBrandon Toefield became just the ninth LSU player to crack the 2,000 career yards barrier.
  • Bradie James rushed the ball for the first time in his career on a fake punt in the third quarter. The run went for 29 yards.
  • Freshman Rick Clausen threw his first career pass in the fourth quarter and later completed his first pass.
  • Domanick Davis moved into second in SEC history for career kickoff return yards. He finished the game with 2,022.
  • Domanick Davis took over ninth place in SEC history for punt return yards in a season.
  • With 47 yards rushing, Domanick Davis passed Eddie Fuller for 11th place in Tiger history for career rushing yards.

LSU HEAD COACH NICK SABAN
ALABAMA GAME
Nov. 16, 2002

“Well guys I just think we just got beat by a good football team tonight. We could not stop the run and we could not play with any consistency on offense. They are a very good team and they are a very good defensive team. I think the real key turning point in the game was when we had fourth and two right before the half with 1:42 to go and we punt the ball down to the four yard line and they go 96 yards and score right before the half. I think that was a real momentum change in the game. We were trying to avoid just what happened, to give them the ball at midfield in that situation, which is probably not what you want to do in terms of taking a chance in that situation. To that point we had played pretty well on defense and I did not think they would even get out of the hole, and they ran the ball basically with five draw plays. That was a play they beat us with pretty much all night.

“We did not have any consistency on offense. We didn’t throw the ball effectively and we did not make any big plays. We also did not run the ball very consistently and we just got beat by a better football team. I think we are a better football team than what we played but we got beat by a better team tonight. We did not capitalize and take advantage of opportunities that we had. We got a field goal blocked on the first drive and that is a good football team and we could not overcome it. We did not make enough plays in the game to have a chance to win.”

LSU Defensive Player Quotes

CB Randall Gay
“They (Alabama) came out and just beat us. On offense, they basically just run the same play over and over and we didn’t do a good job of stopping anything they were doing. We ended up getting beat really bad.”

“This game is over. We have two games left. If we win the two games, we still go to Atlanta. So that’s all we need to be worried about right now. We need to forget about this game after tomorrow and get ready to go to work for Ole Miss. If we win those games, we’re still in no matter what. We just have to stay positive and go to work next week.”

LB Bradie James
“Alabama played awesome. I credit their team because they came out and played real well. To do what they did, on the road, after what we did last year, my hat is off to them. We just have to execute and play together as a team. I don’t think we played together as a team tonight. We can’t do anything but learn from this and we still control our own destiny. We still have ball to play. It’s a two game season and all we can do is go out and take one game at a time.”

“We’ve been working on that fake punt for a while. I had to talk coach into calling it, but I finally got some rushing yards.”

“The key now is going out and doing what we do. We have a 24-hour rule and we have to learn from this one. We still have things to play for and that’s motivation. We can’t get too down. We have to find a way to win and that’s just it. Right now, we just have to learn from our mistakes and get together and learn how to execute a little bit better and we’ll be okay.”

LSU Offensive Player Quotes

Offensive Tackle Rodney Reed

“To take something positive from this game, we still control our own destiny. If we win the next two games, we still win the SEC West. Every game from here on out is a one game season. We are going to play Ole Miss like it is the final game of the season. When you are in the SEC, you just have to forget about games like this and move on. Otherwise, you will get beat the following week.”

“I thought we prepared well for the game. It just didn’t happen tonight. I give most of the credit to Alabama. They physically dominated us. A play here and a play there really hurt us. That is football. Not doing the really little things really changes the complexion of the game.”

Quarterback Marcus Randall

“Penalties killed us tonight. We came out the first drive and moved the ball well and things just went downhill from there. We looked really bad as an offense tonight. It was just one of those games.”

“Coach Saban told me he was going to sit me down and bring Rick Clausen into the game in the fourth quarter. He wanted to see if we could get a little change-up.”

“I am still confident because I know we have a lot of talented guys on this offense. We are just not clicking right now as a unit. You can’t win if you don’t put up points. I take most of the responsibility on this loss. I need to lead these guys in the right direction.”

QUOTES FROM ALABAMA HEAD COACH DENNIS FRANCHIONE

“I’m really proud of this team and the way that they played together and as a team. They played very impressively, defensively tonight and someone told me that they broke a streak of 67 games between times that Alabama’s had a shutout. It was the longest streak in Alabama football history. We’ve had an opportunity to, but we didn’t get it, so tonight we did.”

“I thought that our defense did really well. We held them to under 200 yards and got some turnovers. I thought Antwan Odom had a big game for us. He was really machine-like out there. We didn’t give them much. I mean our whole defense played very well. Coach Torbush and all of the other coaches have done a great job with the guys and have really built that to where it is right now.”

“Offensively, we had almost 500 yards and that’s pretty good considering that they (LSU) had the No. 1-ranked defense in the nation coming into the football game. We had two backs over 100 yards in Santonio (Beard) and Shaud (Williams) both and both played very well. I thought that Tyler Watts played an excellent football game. I just can’t say enough about Tyler and the way that he’s played as a senior right now.”

“Our offensive line did an outstanding job tonight. We rushed for 300 yards and I don’t know if they’ve (LSU) given up 300 yards in the last four football games. It’s not happened much with them, so it was an excellent performance from that standpoint.”

“There were two big parts in the game that stick out in my mind. The score right before the half. I think we went 96 yards in less than two minutes and it was big to get it to a two touchdown lead. Then, I think that someone told me that we had close to 11 minutes of possession time in the third quarter and when your defense is forcing them to go three and out, you can do that. But again, our offense did their share too.”

“I’m really happy for our kids and our coaches especially with everything they’ve been through and everything they’ve had to deal with.”