Louisiana State raced out to a 21-0 lead, cruising to a 45-13 victory over visiting Kent State on Saturday night at Tigers Stadium in Baton Rouge, La.
The No. 8 Tigers opened the game by scoring on each of their first-quarter drives, beginning with a five-play drive, capped by a 58-yard rushing touchdown by Jeremy Hill, who was untouched on his sprint up the middle of the field.
On LSU’s second possession, the Golden Flashes forced the Tigers into a third-and-20, only to watch quarterback Zach Mettenberger hit receiver Jarvis Landry for a 21-yard touchdown catch in which he jumped and pulled down the ball between three KSU defenders to make it 14-0.
On the Tigers’ third possession, Hill capped the drive with his second rushing score, this time a 12-yard scoring run coming with 2:36 left in opening quarter to push the lead to 21-0.
But the Flashes (1-2) scored in the opening minutes of the second quarter, capping a nine-play, 75-yard drive with a 2-yard touchdown by redshirt freshman quarterback Colin Reardon. He ran around the corner to his right on a play-action fake with 12:59 left in the quarter, to cut Kent State’s deficit to 21-7.
After the Flashes’ first score, the KSU defense finally managed to keep LSU (3-0) out of the end zone for the first time on the Tigers’ first possession of the second quarter. A 25-yard field goal by Colby Delahoussaye extended the Tigers’ lead to 24-7 with 10:03 to play before halftime.
The Tigers showcased their speed on their next drive as Landry sprinted past the Flashes’ defense with a 31-yard touchdown reception that gave LSU a 31-7 advantage with 4:14 to go in the half.
Just before the end of the half, KSU’s special teams forced a turnover as Fabrice Pratt nailed the LSU return man as he attempted to field a punt. The muffed punt led to a 37-yard Anthony Melchiori field goal that made it 31-10 at halftime.
Another field goal by KSU, a 36-yarder by Melchiori with 3:16 to go in the third quarter cut LSU’s lead to 31-13. The kick bounced hard off the right upright, but deflected in.
After being shut out in the third quarter, the Tigers made up for lost ground quickly in the fourth quarter.
Just 45 seconds in, LSU used a 5-yard touchdown pass from Mettenberger to Beckham and LSU running back Terrence Magee tacked on a 12-yard touchdown run to cap a 60-yard, five-play drive that provided the final margin.
“It is a loss, but LSU’s a very good football team,” KSU coach Paul Haynes said. “Give them a lot of credit; they had a good game plan, they were very well coached. But our guys fought. We talked at halftime that we’re going to keep grinding, keep fighting and that there’s a lot of things we can continue to get better at in the second half and we saw it.
“Each week, we need to continue to get better, and it’s not getting any easier next week against another good football team [Penn State]. But we’ve got to stick together, make sure to continue to get better and we will. Our guys are still hungry and every goal that we wanted to accomplish, we still can.”
The Tigers’ defense controlled the Flashes for the most part, but Reardon found some success in the passing game. The Flashes’ ground game never got going, though.
Reardon completed 20-for-29 passes for 190 yards but junior Trayion Durham was held to 36 yards on 18 carries and the Flashes were held to 58 yards on 32 rushes.
Flashes speedster Dri Archer started the game in the slot after sitting out last week’s loss to Bowling Green with a left ankle sprain, but had little effect Saturday.
He didn’t touch the ball until late in the first quarter, when he hauled in a 7-yard pass from Reardon on first down.
He was seen grimacing on the sideline afterward and did not return.