Record Day

Bur­row’s 7 TDs lead LSU over OK

Antelope Valley Press (Sunday) - - Sports - By PAUL NEWBERRY

AT­LANTA — Joe Bur­row and the LSU Tigers turned in a first half for the ages, a breath­tak­ing of­fen­sive dis­play even as their co­or­di­na­tor grieved a hor­rific tragedy from his box high above the field.

This team from the bayou is truly some­thing spe­cial.

With one more vic­tory, it will be a na­tional cham­pion.

In his first game as a Heis­man Tro­phy win­ner, Bur­row threw for seven touch­downs and 493 yards as No. 1 LSU romped to a stun­ning 63-28 vic­tory over No. 4 Ok­la­homa in the Peach Bowl semi­fi­nal game Satur­day.

The Tigers (14-0) are headed to the ti­tle game against ei­ther No. 2 Ohio State or No. 3 Clem­son click­ing on all cylin­ders, hav­ing dis­man­tled the Soon­ers (122) with a 30-minute out­burst that will long be re­mem­bered in Ca­jun coun­try.

“We go into ev­ery game think­ing no­body can stop us,” Bur­row said. Cer­tainly, the Soon­ers couldn’t. Bur­row tied the record for any col­lege bowl game with his seven TD passes — which all came be­fore the bands hit the field for the half­time show at Mercedes-Benz Sta­dium. Justin Jef­fer­son was on the re­ceiv­ing end for four of those scor­ing plays, also ty­ing a bowl record.

As if that wasn’t enough, Bur­row scored an eighth TD him­self on a 3-yard run in the third quar­ter, thor­oughly dom­i­nat­ing his ex­pected duel with Ok­la­homa quar­ter­back Jalen Hurts, the Heis­man run­ner-up.

Yet, the postgame cel­e­bra­tion was weighed down by heavy hearts.

LSU of­fen­sive co­or­di­na­tor Steve Ens­minger learned shortly be­fore kick­off that his daugh­ter-in-law, broad­caster Car­ley McCord, was among five peo­ple killed in a plane crash in Louisiana. The small plane went down shortly after take­off for what was sup­posed to be a flight to At­lanta for the game.

Head coach Ed Org­eron de­liv­ered the news to Ens­minger, who was seen with tears run­ning down his cheeks but stuck to the task at hand.

“Coach, we’re go­ing to get through this,” Emsminger told his boss.

Then the co­or­di­na­tor headed to his usual spot in the box, call­ing plays along­side pass­ing game co­or­di­na­tor Joe Brady.

It was a brilliant, poignant per­for­mance in the face of such grief. The play­ers didn’t learn un­til af­ter­ward what Ens­minger was go­ing through.

“I can’t think of what he was able to do to­day with the cir­cum­stances,” Brady said. “It speaks to the type of man he is.”

LSU needed only three plays to race 42 yards for its first score — a per­fectly thrown ball over Jef­fer­son’s shoul­der for a 19-yard TD less than 3 min­utes into the game.

Ok­la­homa briefly put up a fight.

Hurts’ 51-yard pass to CeeDee Lamb set up a 3-yard touch­down run by Kennedy Brooks that tied the score at 7. After that, the rout was on.

It was 49-14 by half­time.

The Tigers’ po­tent spread of­fense made this one look much like the Har­lem Glo­be­trot­ters carv­ing up the Washington Gen­er­als, only it was the Soon­ers play­ing the hap­less vic­tim.

Jef­fer­son hauled in a 35-yard pass for touch­down No. 2. Then a 42-yarder for No. 3. And, fi­nally, a 30-yard scor­ing strike that left him count­ing off four fin­gers for the crowd — all be­fore the mid­way point of the sec­ond quar­ter.

Ter­race Mar­shall Jr. con­trib­uted to the on­slaught with TD catches of 8 and 2 yards. Tight end Thad­deus Moss — the son of NFL Hall of Fame re­ceiver Randy Moss — made his daddy proud by get­ting free be­hind the sec­ondary, haul­ing in a pass and shov­ing off a fast-clos­ing de­fender to com­plete the 62-yard scor­ing play.

“One team, one heart­beat,” Org­eron said.

It was a mis­er­able fi­nale for Hurts, who closed out a no­madic col­lege ca­reer that be­gan with him lead­ing Alabama to a pair of na­tional cham­pi­onship games be­fore los­ing his start­ing job to Tua Tago­v­ailoa. After grad­u­at­ing, Hurts trans­ferred to Ok­la­homa for a one-and-done sea­son that pro­duced some daz­zling num­bers but ended short of the ul­ti­mate goal.

Run­ning for his life most of the game, Hurts was largely stymied on the ground and through the air. He ran for a pair of touch­downs but gained just 43 yards with his legs. He was held to 15 of 31 for 217 yards pass­ing, giv­ing up a brilliant, leap­ing in­ter­cep­tion to Kary Vin­cent Jr. that quickly brought the LSU of­fense back on the field as the Tigers were blow­ing the game open.

“We needed to take ad­van­tage of ev­ery op­por­tu­nity we had against a team like this,” Hurts said. “We failed to do that.”

BLIND­SIDE HIT

Ok­la­homa de­fen­sive back Bren­dan Radley-Hiles was ejected early in the sec­ond quar­ter for a bru­tal hit on LSU’s Clyde Ed­wards-He­laire.

With Bur­row scram­bling to­ward the side­line, Radley-Hiles de­liv­ered the blind­side shot to Ed­wards-He­laire com­ing out of the back­field.

The of­fi­cials did not throw a flag, but a video re­view showed that Radley-Hiles leaped into the de­fense­less player with a shoul­der to the hel­met.

Three plays later, Bur­row went deep to Jef­fer­son for a TD that ex­tended LSU’s lead to 28-7.

THE TAKE­AWAY

Ok­la­homa: Play­ing for the first time in a city where the Braves have be­come no­to­ri­ous for their flops in the Ma­jor League Base­ball play­offs, the Soon­ers turned in a fa­mil­iar per­for­mance. They have made the Col­lege Foot­ball Play­off four times in the six-year his­tory of the for­mat, but have yet to win a game. That could af­fect the way the se­lec­tion com­mit­tee views the Soon­ers the next time they’re in the mix — or any other Big 12 school, for that mat­ter.

LSU: While this game will be re­mem­bered for the dy­namic of­fen­sive show­ing, the Tigers’ de­fense kept up its en­cour­ag­ing turn­around over the lat­ter part of the sea­son. They held Ok­la­homa to 322 yards — far be­low its 554.2yard av­er­age com­ing into the game, which ranked sec­ond na­tion­ally be­hind LSU. The front line kept the heat on Hurts, who was sacked twice and of­ten wound up on his back­side when he got the ball away.

UP NEXT

Ok­la­homa: Hurts’ de­par­ture leaves a big hole to fill at quar­ter­back, but fresh­man Spencer Rat­tler was one of the na­tion’s top prospects com­ing out of high school. He played in three games this sea­son, in­clud­ing a mop-up role in the clos­ing min­utes of the Peach Bowl. Rat­tler will likely be lead­ing the of­fense when the 2020 sea­son be­gins Sept. 5 against Missouri State.

LSU: The Tigers will head back to Louisiana for a de facto home game at the Su­per­dome on Jan. 13. That mir­rors their last ti­tle run dur­ing the 2007 sea­son, when they beat Ohio State 38-24 in New Or­leans for the BCS cham­pi­onship. “Just get­ting there is not our fi­nal des­ti­na­tion,” Org­eron said. “We’re look­ing to win it.”

As­so­ci­ated Press

ON TO THE NATTY — LSU coach Ed Org­eron and Grant Del­pit (7) cel­e­brate win­ning the Peach Bowl semi­fi­nal col­lege foot­ball play­off game against Ok­la­homa on Satur­day in At­lanta. LSU won 63-28.

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