Tigers Comeback to Defeat Beavers in Overtime, 22-21
By Chris Macaluso
Special to LSUSports.net
BATON ROUGE — If last season is the model by which this LSU football season is to be measured, the Tigers were sure to win their opening game Saturday afternoon in Tiger Stadium.
For the second straight season, the Tigers had the start of their opening game delayed by an hour-long deluge approaching biblical proportions. Unfortunately for the defending national champion Tigers, this year’s opponent, the Oregon State Beavers, proved a much, much more worthy adversary than last year’s University of Louisiana-Monroe squad that was handed a 49-7 thrashing.
On the strength of the will of back-up quarterback JaMarcus Russell and the football gods pushing three Oregon State extra point attempts, including one on the game’s last play, wide right, LSU won its season opener 22-21 in overtime over a gutsy and talented Beaver squad.
Beaver place kicker Alexis Serna missed what would have been the tying extra point in overtime to secure a nerve-racking victory for the hometown Tigers. His kick sailed well clear of the right upright in the north endzone as the LSU faithful erupted and the Beaver fans and players sank to their knees as the scoreboard remained at 22-21.
Serna attempted the point after kick despite a frantic attempt by Beaver Coach Mike Riley to call time out in order to weigh his options between kicking and attempting a two-point conversion.
Serna’s attempt was set up by a 19-yard touchdown pass by Beaver quarterback Derek Anderson to tight end Joe Newton. Anderson’s 231 yards passing and three touchdowns, put a scare in the defending national champion Tigers like few of the 91, 828 rain-drenched fans expected.
Oregon State won the overtime coin toss and elected to play defense while LSU chose to play into the student section in the north endzone. LSU struck for a touchdown on its offensive possession, helped in large part by two costly defensive holding penalties against the Beavers. Tiger starting quarterback Marcus Randall, who completed just 7-18 passes for 66 yards, entered the game for a hobbled JaMarcus Russell to score the go-ahead touchdown on a five-yard quarterback draw to give LSU a 21-15 lead. Chris Jackson’s extra point then sailed true, giving the Tigers a seven point advantage.
It took a miraculous leap by an injured Russell to keep LSU’s hope of winning Saturday’s game alive. The redshirt freshman, who took control of the Tiger offense on its first second-half drive, led his team on a four-play 64 yard drive with a scant 1:38 left in the game to give the Tigers a chance to dodge one of the most disappointing losses in school history.
Russell connected with wide receiver Dwayne Bowe for 26 yards on third down to keep the scoring drive alive, then 38 yards on the next play on an identical slant pattern over the middle for just the second LSU touchdown of the game. The Tigers, needing a two-point conversion, again turned to Russell who rolled out right into the face of the Beaver rush before reversing his field and diving over the goal line to tie the score with 1:05 to play.
Russell finished the game with nine completions on 26 attempts that included several dropped passes. His two touchdowns, the first to Skyler Green with 5:41 left in the third quarter and the last to Bowe for the game tying score, were the only two touchdowns for the Tigers in regulation.
The speedy Oregon State defense held the bewildered looking Tigers to just 165 yards through the first three quarters before Russell battled his way through leg cramps throughout the fourth quarter.
Meanwhile, the Beaver offense found just enough holes in the vaunted LSU defense to keep the Tigers off balance throughout the game and keep the normally rowdy Tiger Stadium crowd at bay. The Beavers amassed 315 yards of offense compared to 302 for LSU.
Oregon State’s election to defer its winning coin toss at the beginning of the game to the second half paid off immediately as Green fumbled the opening kick on the saturated field at his own 25-yard line. The Beavers moved 25 yards backwards on their first three plays due to an offensive pass interference, false start and delay of game penalty.
But Anderson deftly attacked the Tiger defense by completing five out of six passes, the last a 6-yard strike to flanker George Gillett to give Oregon State a 6-0 lead with 12:08 to play in the first quarter. Serna then missed the extra point try.
The Tigers handed Oregon State another gift two plays later as quarterback Marcus Randall’s first pass of the season was intercepted by safety Sabby Pisticelli at the LSU 30 and returned to the Tiger 24 yard line.
The Beavers were in the giving mood as well, though as Anderson threw an interception of his own just three plays later. Tiger free safety LaRon Landry hauled in the errant Anderson pass in the endzone giving the LSU offense the chance to start again at its own 20-yard line.
Randall completed what seemed to be the tying touchdown pass eight plays into the drive when Bowe bounced off three defenders and raced 57 yards to the north endzone. But, the play was called back because of an illegal procedure penalty and the Tigers failed to convert a 17-yard third down attempt.
Oregon State started its next drive at its own 10-yard line and quickly moved the ball out to the 27 yard line on a 17-yard completion from Anderson to Newton. But the sloppy turf contributed to another turnover as tailback Dwight Wright fumbled away a wet football at the 27.
LSU was unable to capitalize however as a 48-yard Jackson field goal attempt landed five yards short of the north endzone goalposts.
A bad snap contributed to a very poor kick by Oregon State punter Sam Paulsecu and set up LSU’s next drive just inside the 50 yard line. But again, LSU’s offense failed to move the ball any significant distance and the Tigers were forced to punt three plays later.
Both teams went into an offensive dry spell for the next several series. Oregon State had what appeared to be a great opportunity to score with 6:10 to play in the half after a very poor 12-yard punt by LSU’s Patrick Fisher gave the Beavers the ball at the LSU 45 yard line.
But that chance eroded three plays later when Tiger senior defensive end Marcus Spears rushed in and crushed Anderson at the LSU 48 yard line causing a fumble. Spears recovered the fumble and set up LSU’s deepest penetration into the Beaver defense.
Tailback Justin Vincent exploded through the Oregon State defensive line for a 31-yard run on the first play of the ensuing drive. But, Jackson again failed to put the Tigers on the scoreboard when his 42-yard field goal attempt sailed wide right with 2:38 left in the half.
Oregon State responded by driving the ball to the LSU 23-yard line in four plays highlighted by a 49-yard run by Wright. His long burst gave Serna the chance to extend the Beaver lead to 9-0 with a 40-yard field goal with 1:35 left in the half.
The Beavers offense nearly doubled LSU’s poor first-half offensive effort that amassed just 93 yards in comparison to 178 for Oregon State.
Russell started the second half at quarterback for LSU, replacing an ineffective Randall who managed just five completions on 15 attempts for 39 yards and one interception to that point. But Russell faired little better in the Tigers’ first drive of the third quarter as the Beavers batted and hurried him for two incompletions on his first two attempts.
LSU’s defense tightened on Oregon State’s second possession of the half, forcing the Beavers backwards two yards on the drive. LSU took over with Russell calling the signals at the Oregon State 37-yard line with 10:57 to play in the third quarter.
The Tiger offense struggled again as Russell threw two more incomplete passes before Jackson punted the ball back to the Beavers who punted right back after three plays.
LSU finally awakened from its offensive slumber after Green fair caught the punt at his own 21 yard line. Russell guided his team down the field in nine plays with some help from back-up tailback Alley Broussard. The drive culminated with a 16-yard over the shoulder reception by Green in the back of the north endzone. For the first time in the game, a Jackson kick sailed between the uprights and LSU cut the Beaver lead to 9-7 with 3:00 left in the third quarter.
The Beavers bounced right back though, and drove efficiently down the field with the help of some poor tackling by the Tiger defense. Anderson capped the pass-happy drive with a four-yard touchdown to a wide open Anthony Wheat-Brown in the south endzone with 48 seconds left in the third quarter. Serna missed another extra point, forcing Oregon State to settle for a 15-7 advantage.
LSU was unable to move the ball one yard on its next possession and punted the ball right back to the Beavers at their own 45 yard line. Oregon State turned the ball over on downs to end its next possession.
LSU was forced to punt after just three plays again before forcing Oregon State to do the same. LSU took over on offense at the Beaver 47 thanks to a heavy rush that forced Paulsecu to launch the ball off the side of his foot out of bounds.
Again, the Tigers squandered their chance to move the ball on offense and punted after just three plays, including two more incomplete Russell passes.
LSU’s next chance seemed to be its last. The Tigers started at their own 47-yard line with 6:26 left in the game. Russell drove his team 20 yards in six plays before falling to the field with a leg injury. Randall replaced Russell and completed his first attempt to Joseph Addai 23 yards down the field giving the Tigers a first and goal chance at the Beaver eight yard line. Randall then missed the mark on a pass to Early Doucet and hit Addai again with a short gain before Russell returned to attempt a fourth down touchdown attempt. His lob pass sailed just over the head of a wide open Green in the endzone and the Tigers walked away empty again.
LSU’s last chance came at its own 36 yard line. Four plays later Bowe crossed the goal line before Russell dove in for the tying extra point sending the contest into overtime.
LSU vs. Oregon State — Sept. 4, 2004 – Tiger Stadium
LSU Team Notes
- The teams were removed from the field at 5:06 p.m. CDT for 47 minutes due to inclement weather. The game was scheduled to kickoff at 5:07 p.m. and the opening kickoff was at 5:53 p.m. It marked the second consecutive season opener that the game had been delayed due to inclement weather. It was also the third time in the past two seasons a game had been delayed in Tiger Stadium.
- LSU’s game captains are 13 Corey Webster, 55 Ben Wilkerson and 84 Marcus Spears. – The honorary captains for the game are Frank Godfrey (C from 1989-1992), David LaFleur (TE from 1993-1996) and Chad Lavalais (DT 2000-2003).
- Oregon State won the toss and deferred to the second half. LSU received the opening kickoff.
- Tonight’s attendance of 91,828 is the 10th largest crowd to witness a game at Tiger Stadium and the highest attendance of a home opener in stadium history.
- WR Dwayne Bowe, OG Will Arnold, DT Claude Wroten, LB E.J. Kuale all made their first career starts tonight.
- Players making their first appearance in a game for LSU are 2 E.J. Kuale (LB), 4 JaMarcus Russell (QB), 6 Mario Stevenson (CB), 7 Ali Highsmith (special teams), 9 Early Doucet (WR), 15 Matt Flynn (special teams), 18 Jacob Hester (special teams), 36 Patrick Fisher (P), 52 Ryan Willis (DE), 72 Glenn Dorsey (DT), 73 Will Arnold (OG) and 98 Claude Wroten (DT).
- OT Andrew Whitworth (28 straight), DE Marcus Spears (20 straight), CB Corey Webster (15), C Ben Wilkerson (15) and CB Travis Daniels (15) all extended their consecutive games started streak.
- With the score tied at 15 at the end of regulation, it marked the third overtime in Tiger Stadium history.
- Oregon State won the toss in the first overtime and deferred until the second posession.
- LSU improved to 3-1 in overtime games in its history, including a 3-0 mark in Tiger Stadium. LSU had previously owned wins in overtime against Tennessee (Sept. 30, 2000) and Mississippi State (Oct. 21, 2000). The Tigers’ only overtime loss came at Ole Miss on Oct. 31, 1998 (37-31).
LSU Individual Notes
- SS LaRon Landry’s interception in the endzone with 10:32 remaining in the first quarter was the third of his career.
- True freshman DT Glen Dorsey recovered a fumble with 6:17 left in the first quarter in Oregon State territory. The first of his career.
- WR Skyler Green’s pass reception early in the second quarter extended the junior’s streak to 18 straight games with a reception. The last time he did not have a reception in a game was against Ole Miss in 2002.
- DE Marcus Spears recorded his 11th sack of his career late in the second quarter, forcing a fumble and collecting his second fumble recovery of his career.
- With Skyler Green’s 9-yard punt return early in the third quarter, the junior moved into 10th-place on LSU’s career punt return yards with 471. He passed Chris Williams who collected 470 career yards from 1978-1980.
- QB JaMarcus Russell completed the first pass of his career to Dwayne Bowe in the third quarter. An 8-yard pass during the second drive of the quarter.
- Russell tossed the first touchdown of his career later in the same drive, a 16-yard pass to Skyler Green with 5:41 left in the third quarter.
- WR Dwayne Bowe’s 38-yard TD reception with 1:05 left in the fourth quarter was the first of his career.
- QB Marcus Randall’s 5-yard TD run in the first overtime was the third rushing TD of his career.
- With five receptions for 103 yards, WR Dwayne Bowe exceeded the 100-yard receiving mark for the first time in his career. The five catches was also a career high for the sophomore.
LSU COACH NICH SABAN’S OPENING POST-GAME STATEMENT
“Well, obviously it was a great win for our team. I think it shows a lot of character on their part that they didn’t give up in the game and that they fought back in the game. We didn’t play very well in the game, at times, especially in the first half. It’s hard to tell with conditions being the way that they could have been, they would have been, but that’s not an excuse. That’s the hand you are dealt and that’s what you got to play and that’s what you got to do.
We’ve got a lot of work to do as a team. I think everyone knows that. Maybe it’s a good omen that everybody understands that now. I have been saying what a good team Oregon State has, what a great job they do in their program with their players. How they offense is a very good scheme and their quarterback did a very good job. With the field being like it was, it wasn’t easy to get any kind of pressure on him or to rush him like we would like. It’s a tribute to our players.
I think everyone needs to make a commitment to do what they need to do to get better so we have a better opportunity to make the climb we need to make. We obviously have a lot of improvement to make in every part of our game. There’s not one player that shouldn’t feel like there isn’t something they can do to get better no matter what their role is on the team. And maybe that’s a good thing.
I feel very proud of our team that they came back in the game. They hung in there, they fought their tail off. I feel fortunate that we won, but I think we realize now what we need to do and that may be a good omen.
“I know you are going to ask me about the quarterback situation and I’m going to tell you straight up. I don’t know about the quarterback situation. I think we need to analyze what we did today. I think it says a lot about Marcus Randall and his character to come back in the game twice and make some type of play to help us win the game. It says a lot about JaMarcus Russell to make some kind of plays to help us win the game.
If we have to have a starter, a middle reliever and bring someone back as a closer, this ain’t baseball; you are allowed to bring them back in once you take them out. Skip (Bertman) thought I did a good job of working the pitchers today.”
LSU OFFENSIVE PLAYER QUOTES
WR DWAYNE BOWE
…On whether they earned the win
“We came back and earned it. We deserved it. We practiced hard all through the week. We deserved this win. We came through in the fourth quarter.”
…on getting on track late in the game
“It’s the first game; everybody has jitters. I just calmed down and said, ‘just relax, take it easy and give me the ball.'”
QB JAMARCUS RUSSELL
…on what he expected from LSU
“It doesn’t matter if this was LSU or wherever I went, there would be games like this.”
…on most difficult part about stepping in
“Concentrating on plays and what defense you’re looking for. After that, it’s about executing.”
…on advice from Marcus Randall
“He just told me to go out there and play comfortable. He said it was just like practice. Go do the same things you did in practice.”
…on capability to come into game
“On the first drive, once coach put me into the situation, I knew I had to do it. On the second drive, I still felt the butterflies. I knew I was capable of doing it. I just had to focus and do it.”
…on his execution of the gameplan
“I did pretty good. Like I say, I’m still learning and I have a lot to go.”
QB MARCUS RANDALL
…on his first-half performance
“We came out kind of sluggish. Coach kept telling us just to go back in. We just had a lot of mental errors and needed to keep on pressing. Then in the second half, we came out and just executed better and we picked up a lot of things.”
…on the impact of the weather and the delayed start of the game
“It didn’t effect us that much. We practiced all week long with wet footballs because we knew there was a good chance of rain. It really didn’t matter because we just came out and made some mental errors early. We came back, and that showed a lot of character about this ball club.”
…on re-entering game for winning touchdown
“I just tried to stay focused. Coach kept telling me to keep my head in the game. You never know what’s going to happen in a ballgame. Going back in and scoring a touchdown felt great.”
…on his thoughts when Russell went back in after he brought team within striking distance
“I was kind of surprised, but I never question the coach. He probably thought it was a play Russell was better at running.”
…on the play calling for the touchdown
“It was called a straight quarterback draw. I saw two guys blitzing up and knew that Justin [Vincent] had to pick up one, and I had to make the second one miss, and that’s how it went.”
“Every time we lines up in trips, their safety would slide over, but that time he didn’t. So I knew if Justin had his block, I could make the second guy miss.”
…on coach Saban’s talk at halftime
“He said to stick with our gameplan; it was working. He said to just come back out and get back to the plays that we practiced all week. Just go out there and stop the mental errors.”
…on difference starting this year from two years ago
“I felt comfortable. I had a lot of mental errors. I went to the right on one play instead of going to the left. Just a bunch of mental errors like I’ve been saying, but I felt good.”
…on what he told Russell prior to start of the second half
“I spoke to him at halftime to make sure that he knew his checks. He said was good with that. Then he went out and he played good.”
LSU DEFENSIVE PLAYER QUOTES
DE Marcus Spears
…On the game’s finish
“Crazy finish, but we worked hard though. We fought as long as we could fight, and fortunately he missed a field goal. I would like to think we had something to do with that. We got a lot of pressure up the middle, and I guess he took his eyes off of it. Whatever the outcome was, we fought pretty hard and we ended up with the ‘W’.”
…On the adjustments the team made during the game
“I think we made a lot of mental errors in the first half. I think the adjustment that we made was to go out and get it right. We had good calls the whole game against their offense, we just had to go out there and make plays. They were throwing a lot of quick passes, and that’s always something that gets a defensive lineman frustrated when you rush them. We kept the pressure coming, and we got to him a couple of times.”
FS LaRon Landry
…On what Oregon State did that kept the defense off-balance
“They came out like they would come out in one formation and shift, and our whole defensive scheme had to shift. They really got to us by doing that because we would line up in the front a different way and then we would rotate. We made adjusted and made the corrections.”
CB Corey Webster
…On the adjustments the defense made during the game
“We knew they were doing a lot of shifting, so we just started getting a lot of people in the right spots and communicating with each other. That’s how good football teams come out at the end.”
DT Kyle Williams
…On the play of the defense
“Those guys that came in, they outplayed us and beat us all over the field. We snuck one out. We played good in spots, but there’s definite room for improvement. It gets a little loud out there and we can’t quite get our calls through, which is no excuse, but we’ve got to work harder. It gives us a stepping stone to show us where we are. We’re not even anywhere close to where we want to be. A ‘W’ is a ‘W’ and I’ll definitely take it, and I’m looking forward to next week.”
OREGON STATE HEAD COACH MIKE RILEY
…On talking to Alexis Srna after the game
“I told him there is not a lot you can say. It feels bad, but you know just like all those other guys he worked hard and conscientious during our camp and we chose him to be our kicker in this game.”
…. On trying to call a timeout during the PAT in overtime
“Well you know we have a timeout in overtime and I was calling timeout to think about it. Whether or not we should go for two because I thought it was pretty obvious to everybody that we played great defense but we were getting tired late in the game and in that first overtime. I just wanted to think about it. I didn’t have my mind made up but we had one timeout in the overtime period, so I was going to use it. The ironic part of this is that I should have been able to get a call because now the new rule is I can call the timeout. But I couldn’t get the attention of anybody. It was so loud and the linesmen are so far down there and I was already illegally on the field.”
…. On playing the defending national champions
“You know what I loved about the game for our guys was the fact that they came here to play. They didn’t let anything else get in the way. They just went out there and stood toe-to-toe and made a lot of plays, a lot of good football. Just like I had hoped that we would experience — to come to a field like this and just play. That was my greatest wish for these players and they really did so I feel good about that. I am really sick about the loss because you guys know we will look at that and just see too many opportunities.
OREGON STATE OFFENSIVE PLAYER QUOTES
Dwight Wright TB
“Everyone is just trying to keep there head up now everyone is sad and it hurts a lot to lose a game in overtime like that. It really hurts you in your heart but we’ve got 11 more games to go. Everyone’s just trying to pull together as a team and no one’s trying to break away as individuals.”
“I mean, you know. LSU’s a great team and they obviously won the National Championship so you can never count them out. They can always make a big play at the end and there was never a doubt in my mind that we had to win because they can always come back.”
Derek Anderson QB
“It really hurt. I’m not going to lie. We went out there a fought today. I love my team and appreciate everything we did. We tried hard out there and just came up a little short.”
“I thought we had the momentum most of the game. Their crowd was getting pretty quiet and the noise wasn’t a factor. It was just a new thing. We went out there and executed.”
OREGON STATE BEAVERS DEFENSIVE PLAYER QUOTES
LB Jonathan Pollard
…on LSU being a championship team
“I don’t know. I guess it is the first game. I can’t really say with it being the first game. I do know that we are up there too; I’m going to put us up there too. We don’t care if it’s SEC or Pac-10, that’s a good rival, they should keep that up. They have good players, they are going to become good, but I don’t know about national champions.”
…on feeling like the game was a battle
“We practiced for four hours, we were getting ourselves prepared. We knew what was going to happen. So, we got ready for it.”
…on carrying a moral victory out of the game
“I don’t know. I just know that we have to be bigger players. We have to be men about this. This is a business…”
SS Sabby Piscitelli
…on being so close to winning and then losing
“It’s hard. We worked real hard we expected to win. I think we out played them.”
…on talking to Alexis Serna (PK) about staying motivated
“We can’t blame anything on anybody. We all played our hearts out. We all did as best we can, and it’s a team game.”
…on LSU being a championship team
“I don’t know. We are about us. It’s all about us. We know what we have, and we know what we can do.