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Second half explosion fuels No. 10 LSU past MSU

Tigers outscore Mississippi St. 31-3 in second half to win 14th straight over the Bulldogs

STARKVILLE, Miss. -- While its offense continued to run on all cylinders, the LSU defense found its legs in the second half to key a 59-26 victory over Mississippi State on Saturday night in Davis Wade Stadium.

After a first-half shootout that included 608 yards and 51 combined points - with only five points separating the teams - 10th-ranked LSU (5-1, 2-1 SEC) outscored Mississippi State (2-3, 0-2 SEC) in the second half, 31-3, to earn its 14th-straight win in the series.

The victory was head coach Les Miles' 90th at LSU, as the ninth-year head coach became the fastest to the milestone in school history.

Late in the third quarter with LSU leading 31-26, the game turned when Mississippi State missed a 42 yard field goal. LSU then scored 28-unanswered fourth-quarter points to bounce back from its lone defeat last weekend at Georgia.

LSU quarterback Zach Mettenberger was terrific, completing 25-of-29 passes for 340 yards and two touchdowns. His favorite target was Odell Beckham Jr., who had a career night with nine catches for 179 yards.Jarvis Landry, who played through an injury, had eight catches for 96 yards.

Running back Jeremy Hill ran for 157 yards with touchdown runs of 69 and 5 yards, Kenny Hilliard added 39 yards including a career-best three scores, andAlfred Blue scored a touchdown in the fourth quarter.

LSU outgained Mississippi State, 563-468. The output was the most by LSU against an SEC opponent since Sept. 25, 2004 (599 vs. Mississippi State in Baton Rouge). The Tigers' point total was the most against an SEC opponent since Nov. 1, 1997, at Kentucky (63-28).

Dak Prescott started for Mississippi State at quarterback and was 9-of-20 passing for 106 yards and an interception. He led the Bulldogs with 103 rushing yards and a touchdown. His backup, Tyler Russell, was 7-of-11 passing for 146 yards and two touchdowns.

LSU returns to action Saturday, Oct. 12, when Florida comes to Tiger Stadium for a 2:30 p.m. CT kickoff on CBS.

Without preseason All-SEC safety Craig Loston, who stayed in Baton Rouge, and starting linebacker Tahj Jones for the second-consecutive game, LSU's defense struggled to find its footing against the two Bulldogs quarterbacks who were able to get out of the pocket.

However, LSU recovered and earned two second-half turnovers while only allowing a 22-yard field goal after the break.

The Bulldogs won the toss and deferred its decision until the second half. LSU received the opening kickoff and defended the north endzone to start the track meet of a first half.

The first play from scrimmage was indicative of what was to come in the opening half, as Mettenberger found Beckham Jr. in man coverage for 27 yards to the Bulldogs 48. Penalized for false start, LSU overcame a third-and-13 from its 49 with a 24-yard strike to Beckham Jr. After 16-yard pass to Landry to the 11, Hill was stopped for no gain and Mettenberger was sacked. However, MSU was called for a face mask that it couldn't overcome. On third-and-goal from the 3, Hilliard ran a toss sweep around the left end for a touchdown. LSU, which scored on its opening drive for the fourth-straight game, led 7-0 after a 10-play, 75-yard drive.

Mississippi State quickly answered, returning the kickoff 46 yards. Perkins ran for 27 yards to the LSU 26 on the first play from scrimmage. After a tackle for loss, Prescott escaped the rush of Jermauria Rasco andLamin Barrow, broke a tackle past the line of scrimmage and scored a 28-yard touchdown. Prescott remainined in the game and attempted a two-point conversion, but his pass fell short and LSU led 7-6 with 8:42 left in the opening quarter.

The scoring continued, and came more and more quickly. On third-and-2 from the LSU 33, Hill dominated a 10-man MSU defensive front, breaking two tackles before sprinting 69 yards for a touchdown. After 79 seconds, LSU regained the lead, 14-6.

LSU came up with its first defensive victory of sorts with a great play by a freshman in open space. MSU faced a third-and-10 from the LSU 18 and sent five receivers in formation. Prescott faked a pass to the left, turned right and completed to Joe Morrow. Cornerback Rashard Robinson avoided a block by a wide receiver and tackled Morrow for no gain to force a 35-yard field goal by Devon Bell. MSU cut the LSU advantage to 14-9 with 3:04 left in the first quarter.

Big plays continued for the Tigers, as Mettenberger got out of the shadow of his endzone with passes of 15 and 23 yards to Beckham Jr. Hill then gained a first down to the Bulldogs 40. Two plays later, perfect blocking by fullback Connor Neighbors, guard Vadal Alexander, tight end Dillon Gordon and tackle La'el Collinssprung Hilliard to a 34-yard touchdown run.

On the first play of the second quarter, LSU pushed its lead to 21-9.

Mississippi State overcame a sack by defensive tackle Anthony Johnson with a 20-yard run by Josh Robinson to its 40. Facing another third-and-10 from the LSU 20, Russell connected with Lewis to the left corner of the endzone for a touchdown. With 11:29 left in the half, LSU led 21-16.

Just as the track meet looked to get out of control, Mettenberger made the game's first offensive mistake when his screen pass sailed over Hill's head and was intercepted by Nickoe Whitley.

LSU's defense stepped up to the challenge and stopped the Bulldogs on downs when Ronald Martin broke up Precott's pass on fourth-and-11 from the 36. However, a sack of Mettenberger on third-and-12 led to a 49-yard punt by Jamie Keehn that gave MSU possession at its 27.

The Bulldogs went to work quickly, as Lewis had a 14-yard catch from Russell before the quarterback connected with 6-foot-5 wide receiver De'Runnya Wilson for a 69-yard touchdown catch and run.

Mississippi State led for the only time, 23-21, with 6:28 to play before halftime.

Consecutive drives ended in punts for the first time in the game with LSU taking over at its 30 with 2:10 left in the half. Mettenberger went to work with a first-down pass to tight end Travis Dickson to the LSU 44. An 18-yard pass to Hill out of the backfield and a 14-yard pass to Landry moved the Tigers to the Bulldogs 24 with 53 seconds left. Faced with third-and-8 from the 22, Mettenberger and Landry combined for just enough yardage for a first down. Without huddling, the quarterback calmly lobbed a pass over the top of the Bulldogs secondary to a leaping Beckham Jr. for a 14-yard touchdown.

LSU led 28-23 after a half that included 608 yards of total offense. LSU had 334 of those, as Mettenberger was 16-of-20 passing for 211 yards.

Mississippi State took the second half kickoff and marched quickly to a first-and-goal at the 7 before its drive stalled. A 22-yard field goal pulled MSU within a point, 27-26.

LSU again answered the bell offensively, slowing the pace to give its defense a rest after gaining a first down on third-and-19 from the LSU 30. A 21-yard connection with receiver Travin Dural allowed the Tigers to move into MSU territory at the 49. After 12-yard first-down run by Alfred Blue, LSU was faced a fourth-and-2 at the MSU 29. Rather than attempt the long field goal, LSU elected to go over the top again. Mettenberger found Beckham Jr. leaping for the ball at the 3. However, a fumble by Hilliard on third-and-goal forced the Tigers to settle for a 29-yard field goal by Delahoussaye. With 4:33 left in the third quarter, LSU led 31-26.

The Bulldogs' attempt to tack on three points of their own fell wide left from 42 yards, and marked the beginning of the end for the homestanding team.

Hill followed a 15-yard catch by Beckham Jr. with runs of 14 and 13 yards, as the Bulldogs' front wore down. On the next play, Beckham Jr. caught a pass in the open, curled inside to avoid two defenders and spinted to the endzone for a 33-yard touchdown. On the first play of the fourth quarter, LSU pushed its advantage to 38-26.

With State dazed, LSU made a knockout punch when freshman cornerback Tre'Davious White intercepted Prescott at the MSU 45 and zagged all the way to the 5. On the next play, Hill stepped through the line and scored for the second time. The Tigers pushed the advantage to 45-26 with 14:19 left.

In the final six minutes, LSU continued to wear down the Bulldogs. The Tigers scored touchdowns drives of 66 and 25 yards, the latter coming after a fumbled recovered by linebacker Lamar Louis.

Blue scored on a 17-yard run and Hilliard added a 4-yard touchdown for the final margin.

The attendance of 57,113 was the fifth-largest crowd in stadium history.

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