CFB: Williams lifts No. 9 LSU over La. Tech, 24-16
BATON ROUGE, La. — Keiland Williams' combination of power and elusiveness ensured LSU's century of dominance over Louisiana Tech would continue.
Williams ran for 116 yards and two second-half touchdowns, helping the ninth-ranked Tigers fend off the upset-minded Bulldogs 24-16 on Saturday night.
Williams' first score, on a powerful 3-yard run that moved the pile, gave LSU (8-2) a 17-13 lead midway through third quarter. His 9-yard TD in the fourth quarter made it a two-score game with a little over seven minutes to go.
Louisiana Tech (3-7) hasn't beaten LSU since 1904, but led 13-10 at halftime after running back Daniel Porter took a direct snap on a fourth-down play and lobbed a 1-yard jump pass to tight end Dennis Morris as time expired in the second quarter.
LSU's defense locked down the Bulldogs in the second half, allowing the heavily favored Tigers to overcome a shaky outing by quarterback Jarrett Lee, who started for the hobbled Jordan Jefferson.
Lee finished 7 of 22 for 105 yards and one TD. Lee was ridiculed by Tigers fans a season ago for throwing seven interceptions that were returned for touchdowns. He was not picked off this time, though Tech came close twice. Pressured often, Lee threw the ball away rather than force it into coverage, but was roundly booed for doing so, one time emphatically so when he drew an intentional grounding penalty.
The crowd cheered in the fourth quarter when multitalented freshman Russell Shepard lined up in Lee's place and scampered 14 yards for a first down, then booed when Lee returned two plays later.
The boos didn't last long though, as Lee handed off to Williams for the running back's fourth TD of the season. The Tigers won for the 18th time in 19 meetings between the Louisiana schools.
Matt Nelson had field goals of 30, 33 and 36 yards for the Bulldogs.
Daniel Porter ran for 64 yards for Tech, becoming the third player in school history to reach 3,000 career yards rushing. Tech quarterback Ross Jenkins was 16 of 13 for 143 yards and was sacked five times.
The bright spot for the Bulldogs was their running game, which accounted for 178 yards, well above the average of 121 yards rushing LSU's defense had been allowing coming in.
LSU went up 10-3 late in the first quarter when Lee hit Brandon LaFell on a crossing route and LaFell darted into the clear for a 38-yard score. It was LaFell's 23rd career touchdown, putting him three behind Dwayne Bowe for the most TD receptions in school history.
The Bulldogs, which lost 45-35 to No. 6 Boise State a week earlier, again would not allow a top-10 team to bury them. Tech had a whopping 11-minute time of possession advantage in the first half and cut it to 10-6 on Matt Nelson's second field goal.
At halftime, LSU trotted to the locker room to boos from the home crowd after a stunning opening 30 minutes that saw Tech take the lead on a creative play call by coach Derek Dooley.
On fourth down, with 2 seconds left in the second quarter and the ball just inside the LSU 2, Tech's offense surprisingly took the field in place of the field goal unit and shifted into wildcat formation. Porter took the snap, started forward, the stopped and lobbed a jump pass to Morris, silencing a boisterous Tiger Stadium crowd.
A Louisiana Tech spokesman said the play gave the Bulldogs their first lead over the Tigers since the only time they beat LSU some 105 years ago.