Courtesy: LSU Athletics
LSU running back Jeremy Hill had 184 yards rushing and three touchdowns to lead No. 6 LSU past Auburn in its SEC opener, 35-21, on a wet Saturday night in Tiger Stadium.
LSU (4-0, 1-0 SEC) opened a 21-0 lead before halftime and held off a late rally by Auburn (3-1, 1-1 SEC), which amassed 332 yards in the second half to get within two touchdowns.
Auburn turned the ball over on its first two possessions and Hill took advantage with touchdown runs of 49 and 10 yards in the first 5:04 of the game.
Hill, who had the most rushing yards by a Tiger since 2004, had 152 of his career-best 184 yards in the first half. He added a 6-yard touchdown in the third quarter and carried 25 times.
LSU quarterback Zach Mettenberger finished 14-of-22 passing for 229 yards with a touchdown and his first interception of the 2013 season.
Wide receiver Jarvis Landry had seven catches for a career-best 118 yards including a 32-yard catch and run for a touchdown on the first play of the fourth quarter. Odell Beckham Jr. added five catches for 59 yards.
With overnight rain Friday and a continuous shower for most of the game, playing conditions affected both teams. LSU fumbled in the redzone while leading 21-0, while Auburn had two fumbles on fourth down including a mishandled deep snap at its 10-yard line.
Auburn did most of damage in the second half, running 48 plays and managing scoring drives of 94 and 88 yards.
Quarterback Nick Marshall finished 17-of-33 passing for 224 yards with two interceptions. Running back Tre Mason ran 26 times for 132 yards with two touchdowns, while Marshall added 46 on the ground.
Wide receiver Sammy Coates led Auburn with 139 receiving yards.
For the first time this season, LSU won coin toss and deferred its decision until the second half. Auburn took the opening kickoff and gained two first downs to midfield with its running attack. Marshall scrambled into LSU territory but came up a yard short of the first down. Outside of field goal range, Auburn rolled the dice and came up with craps, as Marshall fumbled when attempting to fake a handoff. Linebacker Lamin Barrow recovered at the LSU 43.
The Tigers nearly overcame a false start penalty with a 13-yard pass to Landry. On third-and-2, Hill rumbled through the line, high-stepped a tackle in the secondary and scored a 49-yard touchdown.
Colby Delahoussaye's PAT put LSU ahead, 7-0, with 11:16 left in the quarter.
Auburn's second fumble in as many drives cost another touchdown. This time, punter Steven Clark had the deep snap slide through his hands. He was tackled by freshman linebacker Duke Riley at his 10, where Hill scored on the next play with a run up the middle.
After four offensive plays, LSU led 14-0 with 9:56 remaining in the quarter.
Another quick three-and-out by Auburn brought LSU's offense back to the field. A 7-yard run by fullback J.C. Copeland and completions of 8 and 27 yards to Landry gave LSU first downs to the Auburn 16. However, the wet field caught up with LSU for the first time, as running back Terrence Magee fumbled on third-and-7 from the Auburn 13. Auburn defensive back Ryan White recovered at the 7.
Mason gained a first down on the ground for Auburn, however, a third-down pass by Marshall fell incomplete and Auburn punted from its 30.
Starting at his 27, Mettenberger found Beckham for 14 yards to the 41. Two plays later, Hill got loose in the secondary again for 54 yards to the Auburn 1. Copeland capped the drive with a dive in the endzone and LSU led 21-0 with 12:34 left in the half.
Though safety Craig Loston intercepted Marshall on the second play of the ensuing drive, the Tigers punted for the first time, starting a string of six-straight drives that ended with punts or downs.
LSU took the three-touchdown lead into the lockerroom.
Auburn again gambled with the kickoff, trying an onside kick that was fair caught by LSU's Corey Thompson at the LSU 43.
However, Mettenberger was intercepted for the first time this season when Jermaine Whitehead pulled the ball away from Landry at midfield. A 14-yard pass on third-and-3 from Marshall to Sammie Coates led to four-straight runs by Mason, the last of which went for a 2-yard touchdown.
Auburn trailed 21-7 with 12:39 remaining in the third quarter.
LSU answered with seven-play, 75-yard scoring drive, but the Tigers had to cross the goal line three times before getting the points. Landry's 53-yard catch and run for a TD was called back for by holding penalty down the field. Later, after a 45-yard catch and run by tight end Travis Dickson, Landry spun out of a tackle at the Auburn 6, kept his balance and scored. However, the play was blown dead and could not be reviewed. Hill scored on the next play to put LSU ahead 28-7.
LSU got the ball back quickly when safety Dwayne Thomas batted down a third-down pass from Marshall that forced Auburn to punt.
On third-and-5, Mettenberger found Landry for 26 yards to the Auburn 36 and then took advantage of a pass interference penalty to advance to the 14. Three plays went nowhere, and LSU lined up for a 30-yard field goal. However, holder Seth Fruge took the snap six yards behind the line and tried to pick up the yardage up the middle. He came up two yards short and LSU turned the ball over on downs at the Auburn 6.
Auburn took advantage with a 10-play, 94-yard drive that included a 52-yard catch by Coates to the LSU 1. On third-and-goal from the 2, Mason squeezed through the middle for a touchdown. Auburn cut LSU's lead to 28-14 with 3:00 left in the third quarter.
The Tigers didn't waste time extending the lead back to three touchdowns, as Beckham caught passes of 14 and 22 yards to the Auburn 34. On third-and-8 from the 32, Mettenberger stood firm in a well-protected pocket and fired a strike to Landry who did the rest for a touchdown.
LSU led 35-14 with 14:52 left to play.
Auburn wouldn't go away, putting together another 10-play, 88-yard drive that narrowed the gap to 14 points again. Artis-Payne's 12-yard run with 6:33 remaining gave Auburn life, however, they were flagged for touching a successful onside kick before 10 yards.
The visiting Tigers threw an interception and later advanced to the LSU 12 in the waning minutes but could not cut the margin below 14.
|AUG 30||8:00pm CDT||Wisconsin|
|SEP 6||6:30pm CDT||Sam Houston|
|SEP 13||TBD||UL Monroe|
|SEP 20||TBA||Mississippi St.|
|SEP 27||TBA||New Mexico St.|
|OCT 4||TBA||at Auburn|
|OCT 11||TBA||at Florida|
|OCT 25||TBA||Ole Miss|
|NOV 15||TBA||at Arkansas|
|NOV 27||TBA||at Texas A&M|