LSU shat­ters UGA’s un­de­feated streak

Chattanooga Times Free Press - - SPORTS - BY DAVID PASCHALL STAFF WRITER

BA­TON ROUGE, La. — The Ge­or­gia Bull­dogs threw two in­ter­cep­tions, botched a fake field-goal at­tempt, busted cov­er­age de­fen­sively on a 50-yard re­cep­tion and fum­bled away a kick­off re­turn Satur­day af­ter­noon dur­ing a 36-16 loss to LSU.

Yet those plays paled to the big­ger pic­ture as Ge­or­gia’s un­de­feated sea­son came to a screech­ing halt be­fore a sell­out crowd of 102,321 at Tiger Sta­dium.

“They played bet­ter than us to­day,” Bull­dogs coach Kirby Smart said. “They played more phys­i­cal than we did. They at­tacked us, and they cre­ated turnovers. We didn’t do that. You can look at a lot of things, and I’m per­fectly OK with that, be­cause we’re go­ing to look at a lot of things in how we can get bet­ter. At the end of the day, if you don’t win the line of scrim­mage in this league, you will not win the foot­ball game.”

LSU racked up 475 yards on Ge­or­gia, which en­tered Satur­day as the top de­fense in the South­east­ern Con­fer­ence, yield­ing just 283.2 yards per game. The Tigers col­lected 145 yards on 19 car­ries from sopho­more run­ning back Clyde Ed­wards-He­laire, 66 yards on 13 car­ries by ju­nior quar­ter­back Joe Bur­row and 64 yards on 16

rushes by se­nior tail­back Nick Bros­sette.

Bur­row also com­pleted 15 of 30 passes for 200 yards as LSU won its 21st con­sec­u­tive Oc­to­ber con­test and notched its big­gest tri­umph of the Ed Org­eron era.

“This is a tremen­dous win for our foot­ball team,” Org­eron said. “We were plus-four in turnover ra­tio. We were 4-for-4 on fourth downs and held them to 113 yards rush­ing, and that’s a very, very good foot­ball team. It’s a credit to our play­ers, be­cause they were not happy with the re­sults of the Florida game (a 27-19 loss a week ear­lier).

“Ob­vi­ously we used that as mo­ti­va­tion all week.”

The win by the No. 13 Tigers (6-1, 3-1 SEC) over the No. 2 Bull­dogs (6-1, 4-1) rep­re­sented just the third loss for Ge­or­gia in its last 23 games. Yet it also marked a third con­sec­u­tive sea­son in which the Bull­dogs have been blown out on the road by an SEC West pro­gram, hav­ing lost 40-17 at Auburn last Novem­ber and hav­ing fallen 45-14 at Ole Miss in 2016.

“This is very sim­i­lar to last year, though we prob­a­bly played bet­ter lead­ing up to our loss last year,” Smart said. “I don’t think we’ve played as well this year, but we lost to a team on the West on the road. Ev­ery­thing is still in front of us.

“What are we go­ing to do from here? They de­fine you by how you re­spond. We’ve got a lot to get bet­ter at, and I’ve been say­ing that for three weeks.”

The Bull­dogs en­tered Satur­day av­er­ag­ing 485.2 yards per game of­fen­sively but were held to 322. Run­ning backs D’An­dre Swift and Eli­jah Holy­field com­bined for 128 yards on only 19 car­ries, but sopho­more quar­ter­back Jake Fromm com­pleted just 16 of 34 passes for 209 yards and was in­ter­cepted twice.

Fromm had con­sec­u­tive com­ple­tions of 35 and 27 yards to Ri­ley Ri­d­ley in the fourth quar­ter, with the 27-yarder re­sult­ing in a touch­down that briefly pulled the Bull­dogs within 29-16 with six min­utes to play.

“They were good on de­fense,” Fromm said. “They made the plays kind of when we didn’t.”

Holy­field’s 10-yard touch­down run with seven sec­onds left in the third quar­ter got Ge­or­gia within 19-9, and the Bull­dogs opened the fourth quar­ter with a de­fen­sive three­and-out and a 27-yard Mecole Hard­man punt re­turn to LSU’s 38. On third-and-6 from the 34, how­ever, Fromm was sacked for a 9-yard loss by Ja­Coby Stevens.

“That was not good,” Fromm said. “We were in field-goal range, and the game was still a two-score game. That was re­ally bad on my part. I should have def­i­nitely got­ten the ball out of my hands.”

LSU struck first on a 33-yard field goal by Cole Tracy that gave the Tigers a 3-0 lead at the 9:32 mark of the open­ing quar­ter, cap­ping a nine-play, 65-yard drive. The Bull­dogs re­sponded with nine con­sec­u­tive run­ning plays that moved the ball from their own 15-yard line to LSU’s 14, but they stalled and came away empty when a fake field­goal at­tempt re­sulted in Ro­drigo Blanken­ship get­ting stuffed by Grant Del­pit, who caused a fum­ble that Devin White re­cov­ered at the 16.

The Tigers ended the first quar­ter with an Ed­wards-He­laire 47-yard run down the mid­dle of the field to the Ge­or­gia 7, and they opened the sec­ond quar­ter with Bur­row sneak­ing over on fourth down from a yard out for a 10-0 lead. Fol­low­ing a Ge­or­gia three-and-out, LSU struck again when Justin Jef­fer­son was un­cov­ered down the right side­line, re­sult­ing in a 50-yard re­cep­tion from Bur­row that set up a 36-yard field goal by Tracy that made it 13-0.

“I re­ally won’t know what hap­pened un­til I look at the film, but it looked like a busted cov­er­age,” Ge­or­gia sopho­more safety Richard LeCounte said.

LSU ex­tended its lead to 16-0 on a 39-yard Tracy field goal with 5:09 be­fore half­time, which cul­mi­nated a 15-play, 50-yard drive that in­cluded two fourth-down con­ver­sions.

The Tigers held a 251-99 ad­van­tage in to­tal yards late in the first half.

Ge­or­gia is off this Satur­day be­fore fac­ing Florida in Jack­sonville on Oct. 27, while LSU will stay at home this week to host Mis­sis­sippi State.

Con­tact David Paschall at dpaschall@times­freep­ress.com or 423-757-6524.

AP PHOTO/MATTHEW HIN­TON

LSU safety Grant Del­pit takes down Ge­or­gia kicker Ro­drigo Blanken­ship on a fake field goal in the first quar­ter of Satur­day’s game in Ba­ton Rouge, La. LSU won 36-16.

AP PHOTO/MATTHEW HIN­TON

LSU quar­ter­back Joe Bur­row (9) scores a touch­down dur­ing the first half of Satur­day’s 36-16 SEC win over Ge­or­gia.

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