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September 18, 2010

Five interceptions loom large at LSU

BATON ROUGE, La., - The script for last season's loss to LSU in Starkville was Mississippi State's four turnovers.

The Bulldogs put themselves in the same position Saturday night at Tiger Stadium tossing five interceptions and were unable to avoid the same fate in a 29-7 defeat.

"We didn't make plays and we turned the ball over," said MSU head coach Dan Mullen. "We had a negative four turnover ratio. You're not going to win any football games turning the ball over in that fashion."

The Bulldogs five turnovers led to 16 LSU points as they improved to 3-0 on the season and 2-0 in the Southeastern Conference.

"Certainly the number of turnovers that we got and the short field was very significant," said LSU head coach Les Miles.

The Tigers ended the evening with 264 total yards, four less than State. LSU picked up 167 yards on the ground and 97 yards through the air.

Quarterback Jordan Jefferson managed the game for the Tigers completing 10-of-16 passing for 97 yards and one rushing score.

"He's a good player," said MSU linebacker K.J. Wright. "He can run and pass. We knew that coming into the game. He was making good plays on us. Again, we just didn't execute."

Stevan Ridley rushed 19 times for 78 yards and a score to pace LSU on the ground.

Rueben Randle pulled in four passes for 34 yards while Terrence Toliver grabbed three balls for 35 yards to lead the receiving corps.

LSU wasted little time getting on the scoreboard. The Tigers took the opening drive of the game down to set up a 44-yard field goal by Josh Jasper.

Jasper would again be called upon two plays into the second quarter to add a 32-yarder putting LSU up 6-0.

The Bulldogs offense finally started to show signs of life on the ensuing drive marching into field goal range. But facing third-and-1 from the LSU 36-yard line, Chris Relf tossed a pass too high for Arceto Clark that was bobbled and picked off by Patrick Peterson at the 2-yard line. Peterson returned it 46-yards to midfield.

"I'd like to see Chris lead the ball across the field to our receiver a little more," Mullen said. "He threw it a little bit behind him and the kid went up and made a heck of a play. Our receiver has got to go take it away from him in those situations.


LSU went to work from there to set up another field goal by Jasper, this time from 51-yards out that had plenty of room to spare as it split the uprights. The kick gave the Tigers a 9-0 advantage with 7:37 remaining in the second quarter.

LSU capitalized on another Relf interception on the following possession. Relf was picked off by Morris Claiborne and returned 28-yards out to the MSU 42 yard line. The Bulldog defense against stood strong to hold LSU out of the end zone but Jasper provided his fourth field goal of the half with a 37-yarder to go up 12-0 just before the half.

The Bulldogs came out of the locker room in the second half reinvigorated offensively. State took the opening drive of the second half 81-yards in 13 plays with both Relf and Tyler Russell at the helm of the offense. Russell took over after Relf was shaken up on a 13-yard first down run and moved the chains three times allowing Vick Ballard to plow in from a yard out.

Sean Brauchle added the point after to get the Bulldogs on the board for the first time and cut the lead to 12-7.

LSU answered right back with a touchdown of their own on the ensuing possession following the kickoff out of bounds to take over at their own 40-yard line.

"You go on the road in a hostile environment and you hold them to four field goals in the first half," Mullen said. "They didn't break and the defense kept us in it. We scored right away to start the second half. Then our kicker walks out and kicks it straight out of bounds. Those are things that championship programs don't do. They seize momentum, they don't just hand it over to the other team."

Jefferson scored from 16-yards out after a seven play drive.

"It was a read on the defensive end," Jefferson said. "The defensive end crashed on the running back and I just found my seam and once I saw the end zone, I felt there was no stopping me. So, I just got in there as quickly as possible."

Jasper provided the extra point putting the Tigers back up 19-7 with just over five minutes to play in the third quarter.

Another Mississippi State interception would lead to points by the Tigers. Russell was pressured on a screen pass and had the ball batted in the air on his delivery and intercepted at the MSU 31-yard line by Drake Nevis.

The Tigers found the end zone three plays later when Ridley scored from 2-yards out. Jasper kicked the PAT giving LSU a 26-7 advantage with just over a minute to go in the third quarter.

The Bulldogs once again fed LSU the ball when Russell was picked off on the ensuing possession by Claiborne, his second of the night. Claiborne returned it 29-yards down to the MSU 10-yard line to set up a 21-yard field goal by Jasper to put the Tigers ahead for good and tied a school record for field goals in a game.

State (1-2, 0-2) managed 268 yards on the night with 152 yards rushing and another 116 via the passing game.

Relf finished with seven carries for 46 yards on the ground while completing 5-of-8 passing for 35 yards and two interceptions.

Russell ended the game 5-of-10 passing for 81 yards and three picks.

"The defense did a great job tonight holding them to field goals in the first half," Russell said. "That's all we can ask a defense to do. We're the offensive unit. It is our job to put points on the board. We weren't able to do that tonight and that's something we are going to work on."

Clark caught three passes for 48 yards.

LSU's defense was led by Ryan Baker with 10 tackles including a half-tackle for loss. Nevis and Stefoin Francois each finished with nine stops.

Peterson and Claiborne each had a pair of interceptions while Tyrann Mathieu provided the Tigers only sack.

Wright paced Mississippi State's defense with a dozen tackles and a half tackle for loss. Johnthan Banks added six stops while Cameron Lawrence, Charles Mitchell and Chris White finished with five.

Lawrence had the Bulldogs lone sack while Damein Anderson and Maurice Langston both recovered a fumble on the same play late in the fourth quarter.

MSU will to end its two-game skid next weekend at home hosting Georgia at 6 p.m.


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