NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Leonard Fournette ran into LSU’s record books on Tuesday.
Fournette, the Tigers rookie running back and former No. 1-ranked recruit, entered the Music City Bowl needing 112 yards to move to No. 1 in LSU’s single-season freshman rushing records.
He blew past the mark during an 89-yard touchdown jaunt in the third quarter of the 31-28 loss to Notre Dame at LP Field.
And he didn’t even know it.
“It’s exciting,” he said afterward when told, “but we didn’t get the ‘W,’ man. It kind of hurts right now that the seniors went out like that. We wanted them to win.”
It was a bittersweet day for Fournette. He raced for 143 yards on just 11 carries and returned a kickoff 100 yards. His 89-yard scoring run came directly up the middle and was the longest run by an LSU player in a bowl game.
His kickoff return — another burst up the middle of the field in which he was barely touched — was the first by an LSU player since Mo Claiborne in 2011.
“They blocked. I saw everybody was on the ground. I saw the gap, and I took it,” Fournette said. “I was tired at the end.”
LSU coach Les Miles added: “Leonard Fournette distinguished himself in this game today. Very special player.”
Fournette, arguably the most highly touted LSU signee since Kevin Faulk in 1995, surpassed Dalton Hilliard for No. 2 in the freshman rushing records in the first half.
He then replaced Justin Vincent for No. 1 on the list, finishing his rookie season with 1,034 yards, 33 more than Vincent.
And, now, to that sophomore year. Already, Fournette has been grouped with a lengthy list of preseason Heisman Trophy favorites.
“I’m not really worried about the Heisman. Just getting better for next season,” said Fournette, who finished the year averaging 5.5 yards a carry. “Long way to go, couple of people leaving so a lot of young guys have to step up to the plate now.”
So what’s the main goals for Year No. 2 at LSU?
“National championship,” he said. “I’m not worried about personal goals, just winning each game, step by step. … Not worried about nothing individual right now. Spring coming up, just focus on getting better with my team.”
He had just 11 carries Tuesday, but that didn’t bother him. Running backs Terrence Magee and Kenny Hilliard played their final game in LSU uniforms.
Magee finished with seven carries for 26 yards, and Hilliard had three for 16. Hilliard didn’t have his first carry until the third quarter.
“It was a bowl game,” Fournette said. “I really wanted Kenny and them to get the most touches. Was their last game ever, going to the real world now. I just wanted them to have fun and go out with that W.”