It was every LSU fan on social media’s dream.
For one night, LSU’s defense forced timely turnovers and its offense was unstoppable, putting up tons of yards and points in a blowout win over an SEC foe.
The Tigers dominated Texas A&M 45-21 on Saturday, capping the regular season with their seventh-straight win over their longtime rivals.
LSU gained 601 yards in the win, including a season-high 351 passing yards. The Tigers also had two 100-yard rushers in the win, which impressed coach Ed Orgeron, who said he’s proud of his team for overcoming early-season adversity and rallying to win six out of their final seven games.
“This is a good accomplishment for our football team,” Orgeron said. “I’m so proud of our players and I’m so proud of our coaches. We kept battling and we beat a good football team.”
Offensive coordinator Matt Canada called arguably his best game of the season on Saturday. The LSU offense was lights out the whole game.
The Tigers got two touchdowns and a field goal in the first quarter to go up 13-0, taking control of the game early.
The field goals were from kicker Jack Gonsoulin, who started in place of Connor Culp. The Tigers went back to Culp later in the game after Gonsoulin missed on a few short tries.
The touchdown was the last score of the three in the quarter – an 11-yard dime from quarterback Danny Etling to receiver Russell Gage, which put LSU up 13-0.
Etling played maybe his best game as LSU’s quarterback in the win.
He completed 19-of-30 passes for 347 yards and three scores. For the season, Etling will finish with 14 touchdowns and just two interceptions – an ambitious stat sheet for a quarterback who’s been much-maligned by national media and even his own fan base.
“He’s a winner,” Orgeron said of his quarterback. “He’s tough and hard-nosed.”
LSU upped its lead to 20-0 midway through the second quarter on a goal line touchdown run from Darrel Williams, who, teamed with Derrius Guice, had big Senior Night performances.
Williams rushed 12 times for 106 yards with a touchdown. He also had a reception for 56 yards.
Guice had 28 carries for 127 yards and a score.
“We’re physical,” Guice said. “We’re all physical – me, Darrel, our quarterback, everyone. That’s our identity and we wanted to line up, get a push and knock them back on their heels.”
But there was some adversity.
LSU was up 20-0 driving into Texas A&M territory late in the first half, but Gonsolin missed a field goal, which turned over the ball to the Aggies.
With possession, Texas A&M’s two-minute offense thrived, going 70 yards in just north of a minute – the scoring play a two-yard run from Trayveon Williams to cut LSU’s lead to 20-7 at halftime.
Out of the lockers, the Aggies did it again, using the first possession of the half to go 75 more yards with a touchdown – a 45-yard strike from quarterback Nick Starkel to Damion Ratley, which cut the lead to 20-14.
The Aggies forced a stop on their next possession and had the football with a chance to take the lead early in the third quarter.
But then LSU’s defense bit back when Donte Jackson stepped in front of a crossing route for an interception, which gave the Tigers golden field position.
They cashed it in seven plays later on a one-yard touchdown run from Guice to go ahead 27-14.
Texas A&M scored again on their next drive – a 10-yard pass from Starkel to Christian Kirk to cut the lead to 27-21.
But LSU dominated the rest of the game, finishing the third quarter with a 10-yard touchdown pass from Etling to J.D. Moore to go up 34-21.
Once in the fourth quarter, LSU dominated and put the game away for good.
After a defensive stop, the Tigers went 85 yards in 94 seconds – a quick drive capped with a six-yard touchdown pass from Etling to D.J. Chark. The two-point conversion was also good – a shovel pass to Foster Moreau, which put the Tigers ahead 42-21.
After a stop, the Tigers went back at it and got their final points – a field goal from Culp, which sent the game to its final margin.
With the win, LSU improved its bowl positioning, while also earning a win for its 20 seniors, who now get to leave their Tiger Stadium careers with a bang.
Orgeron said in the coming weeks, he and his staff will be busy trying to recruit some of the best players in the country to LSU – a process that becomes easier when you’ve just dusted off a success regular season and are headed to a prestigious bowl game.
“It’s going to be fun to go out (there) tomorrow,” Orgeron said of recruiting. “We want to get the best players in the country.”
Image: Sean Gasser