When the pressure was on, when LSU needed someone — anyone — to make a play Saturday night in a shocking 24-21 loss to Troy, the Tigers fell short.
For the first time in three years, LSU failed to convert any of their eight third-down attempts Saturday night, finishing 0-for-8.
But it wasn’t that they simply didn’t reach their target.
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Some of LSU’s worst plays of the night came on the high-pressure down.
Just before halftime, quarterback Danny Etling was crushed on a third-down pass to Stephen Sullivan in the end zone — but the ball fell incomplete.
Jack Gonsoulin missed a 35-yard field-goal attempt on the next play.
In the third quarter, backup quarterback Myles Brennan threw a short pass to Derrick Dillon in the red zone. But Dillon fumbled after getting caught up in a scrum, ending the scoring threat.
The sophomore receiver was a few yards short of a first down to begin with, and LSU likely would’ve settled for another field-goal try — but at the time, it was the closest LSU had come to reaching the end zone.
The Tigers again turned over the ball on third down in the fourth quarter, when Brennan threw an interception.
Etling, who returned for the final few drives, said Troy didn’t do anything to trip them up, only their own mistakes.
"Missed plays," Etling said. "You see some drops here and there, some missed throws, maybe some missed protections. Things of that nature. A lot of different things happened. We'll watch the film and fix what we need to fix."
Troy, meanwhile, converted on third down 10 times — the highest total for an LSU opponent since the Tigers' 56-27 win over Texas Tech in the 2015 Texas Bowl.
Nearly 30 percent of Troy’s 365 total yards came on third downs alone.
The Trojans also converted twice on fourth down, including a 1-yard touchdown run by tailback Jordan Chunn.
"I think that we have to improve and execute better on third and fourth down," said nose tackle Greg Gilmore. "First and second down, they get four yards and now it's third-and-6 and they get the quick throws out and we're not getting our hands out on the defensive line. They out executed us on third down."
With about 4:45 left to play and LSU facing a fourth-and-6, Danny Etling scrambled up the middle for a 12-yard gain.
He came through again later in the drive on a fourth-and-3, hitting Stephen Sullivan for 4 yards, keeping the drive alive long enough to score a touchdown and give LSU a chance at a comeback with an onside kick.
But Troy recovered the kick, essentially securing the upset.
"We had the looks, but we weren't on the same page at times,” said wide receiver DJ Chark. "We came to the sideline and talked about it and got it right at the end, but we have to have that at the beginning."