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LSU rumbles past West Virginia 47-21

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LSU's opportunistic defense overcame a record performance from West Virginia quarterback Geno Smith, and the Tigers pulled away from the Mountaineers for a 47-21 win in Morgantown Saturday night.

A thick fog rolled into Milan Puskar Stadium throughout the 4th quarter Saturday night, perhaps serving as the final curtain on the West Virginia football team.

Despite gaining an outstanding 533 total yards on offense, the No. 16 Mountaineers (3-1) were blown away by SEC-foe No. 2 LSU (4-0), 47-21, in front of a sellout crowd and a primetime national audience.

West Virginia coughed up four total turnovers, including two interceptions, in the loss.

“When you turn the ball over as much as we did (tonight), bad things are going to happen,” said receiver Tavon Austin, who tallied up 187 yards on 11 catches.

The Mountaineers offense choked away two turnovers in the first quarter alone, including an interception that bounced off of the hands of Austin and into the clutch of LSU cornerback Brandon Taylor.

The pick led to a Michael Ford 22-yard touchdown run, capping a 7-play, 50-yard drive, and giving the Tigers an early 13-0 lead.

Ford had 12 carries for 83 yards and two touchdowns, while starting tailback Spencer Ware racked up 97 yards on 23 carries for LSU.

“It came down to two things for us,” said coach Dana Holgorsen. “(There were) turnovers, which once we turned the ball over a couple times it got down to where they were flipping the field over. And they were a lot better than we were on special teams. If you factor those two things in, good field position is going to be a struggle.”

After a strong 12-play, 73-yard drive led to a Geno Smith to Stedman Bailey 20-yard hookup in the endzone, bringing the Mountaineers within six points early in the second quarter, LSU turned up the heat, scoring two straight times, including a back-breaking 1-yard pass from Jarrett Lee to Chase Clement with just :27 seconds left, which was made possible by a batted interception by Tyrann Mathieu at the WVU 17-yard line.

The Tigers took a 27-7 lead into the locker room at the half.

“It was a play where I felt I could get it out to Tavon quick, but (Tyrann Mathieu) made a great play and you know, it's really nothing more than that,” said quarterback Geno Smith about the costly interception. “I wish we could have it back, but it happened and we have to move on from it. It was supposed to be a run play, and I made it a re-play. Like I said, I felt I could get it out to Tavon quick and get something out of it.”

View Smith's Post-Game Comments Here!

Despite his two turnovers, Smith tallied up a school-record 463 yards, going 38 of 65, and throwing for two touchdowns.

WVU etched their way back in the second half, answering a missed 31-yard field goal by LSU with a 6-play, 80-yard drive capped by a 12-yard touchdown pass from Smith to Tyler Urban. The Mountaineers converted two long 3rd down plays and a 4th and 4 play, in which a quick hitch route to Austin got six-yards, extending the drive.

“I think I did some good things, but I think I had way too many negatives,” Smith said. “I feel like had I done better, we would have been a better position to win the game late. That's the way the game goes. You have to learn from it and get better.”

A one-yard run by Dustin Garrison on their very next drive brought West Virginia to within six-points with 1:16 on the clock.

Garrison racked up a game-leading 48-yards on 10 carries for the Mountaineers, who had just 70 yards on the ground as a team.

Game Changing Moment
After the Garrison touchdown, LSU's Morris Claborne returned Corey Smith kickoff 99-yards to the endzone, completely deflating the crowd, and the Mountaineers, who went directly back down by double-digit points.

“That killed us,” said Austin about the kickoff. “What are you supposed to do though? We scored, and they came right back and scored again. They are a good football team. They made the plays that we needed to make.”

After the Claiborne touchdown, the Tigers scored two more times, including an Alfred Blue 18-yard scoring run with just 3:03 remaining in the game.

Despite running less plays, and tallying up less yards than their opponent, LSU carried a possession time of 33:22, as well as going a solid 8 of 16 on 3rd down conversions.

“We showed up tonight in a very hostile environment, and you have to play,” said LSU head coach Les Miles. “West Virginia did a very good job, but our defense showed up to play and we got off to a nice start. They threw the ball well in the second half, and they have good players. It took our full team to win tonight.”

The LSU defense forced four Mountaineer punts in the 4th quarter.

Field Position
Perhaps the MVP of the game for LSU, punter Brad Wing blasted six punts on the day for a total of 292 yards, and carrying an average of 48.7 yards per boot. Wing planted every single punt inside the 20-yard line, with four of those landing inside the 12-yard line.

Due to the strategic punting, the Mountaineers did not have a single punt return attempt.

“It's hard to win a game and gain momentum when we keep getting buried in field position, and they keep getting good field position,” said linebacker Najee Goode, who had eight tackles on the day. “They had the field slanted the entire game. Like I said, it's hard to win like that.”

Smith's Record Day
Quarterback Geno Smith's 463 yards marked a school-record that was most recently held by Marc Bulger, who threw for 429 yards against Missouri in 1998. Smith also broke the record for most completed passes (38), which was also held by Bulger (34) in the same game.  

Smith remained humble despite his record-setting day.

“There is no moral victories losing in my eyes because a loss is a loss no matter how many yards I put up,” the quarterback said. “I'd rather put up zero yards and win the game. There is no such thing as a moral victory.”

The junior signal-caller has 1,471 yards and nine touchdowns in four games this season.

Hear what Smith had to say after the game by clicking here.

Injury Report
Running back Andrew Buie (upper-body injury), who was injured during Marshall, did not play in Saturday night's game against LSU.  Lineman Pat Eger was injured on a play in the 3rd quarter of Saturday night's game.

“We should get Buie back next week, and that should give us more depth at running back,” Holgorsen said. “(Pat) Eger could have gone back in the game (tonight).”

Stat of the Game
The Smith to Bailey hookup in the end zone with 12:30 left in the second quarter marked the first time an opposing offense scored on the LSU defense since the Oregon game in week one (0:14).

Next Up
The Mountaineers will look to bounce back with a much less-intense matchup with Bowling Green next Saturday (Oct. 1) at Milan Puskar Stadium. That kickoff is set for 3:30 PM.

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