Less than an hour after another breakout game from Brandon Harris, a swarm of reporters huddled around the sophomore quarterback. He fielded questions about his budding confidence, deriving motivation from doubters and the emergence of LSU’s long-dormant passing game.
Harris’ two-touchdown, 202-yard performance against Florida put him in the spotlight, but it quickly faded once one of his teammates entered the room. Most of the reporters surrounding Harris rushed away to get a good spot near a player not usually requested for postgame interviews — junior kicker Trent Domingue.
“I really want to go over and talk to him, too,” Harris said.
Domingue became one of the more unlikely heroes in LSU history Saturday by taking a fake field goal in for the deciding touchdown of the Tigers’ 35-28, top-10 win against the Gators. He knew of LSU coach Les Miles’ penchant for special teams trickery but doubted he would ever have a hand in such a play.
“It’s always been in the back of my mind, but I never thought it would really happen,” Domingue said earlier this week. “It’s a thing a kicker always dreams about, scoring a touchdown and what we would do in celebration. When I scored, I just kind of forgot everything.”
Domingue bobbled the lateral from holder Brad Krathorpe several times, which is understandable for a guy who wasn’t allowed to use his hands for most of his athletic career. The Mandeville native played soccer long before he teed up a football.
He was a member of the powerhouse soccer program at St. Paul’s, which captured a national championship during his junior season. But the Wolves’ football team was in need of a kicker that same year.
Considering the rich tradition of St. Paul’s soccer team, coach Ken Sears knew he had no shortage of strong legs to pick from on campus. He chose Domingue.
“If I remember correctly, I approached him about coming out after our kicker had graduated,” Sears said. “Right from the get-go, we saw that he had some potential.”
Domingue turned that potential into production, converting 3-of-4 kicks his junior season before blossoming into an all-state performer his senior year. He made all nine field goals with a long of 47 yards, and he took over punting duties to the tune of 38.9 yards per punt.
In just two years, Domingue became one of the best kickers in the state. Sears said his rapid development boiled down to work ethic.
“When he came into our program and started kicking, he really embraced it,” Sears said. “He went to all kinds of camps and was just kind of a sponge, taking in all the things that he needed to do to get better in terms of technique.”
Sears recognized Domingue’s talent and encouraged him to walk on at several schools. Domingue picked LSU, where he became the primary kickoff specialist as a sophomore. But Domingue got an opportunity to kick field goals when starter Colby Delahoussaye missed three straight at the end of last season.
He made 2-of-3 kicks in the regular-season finale, sparking an offseason competition. The kicking battle was short-lived. Domingue came out of preseason camp with the starting job and a scholarship, which Sears said didn’t surprise him.
Sears recalled attending a coaching clinic at LSU, where he found Domingue’s work ethic hadn’t waned one bit.
“I walked out the back toward the field to meet him, and there he is, practicing kicking on a day when there’s really nothing going on around the complex,” he said.
Domingue has hit all seven field goals this year as one of seven kickers in the nation with a perfect percentage. He could be 8-of-8, though, if Miles wouldn’t have passed on that 33-yarder against Florida.
Domingue and Kragthorpe said the Gator’s field goal unit showed them exactly what they wanted. Every player to the left of the formation came crashing down to block the kick, and Kragthorpe lofted a lateral to Domingue as he veered toward the left sideline.
He juggled the ball at least three times but eventually hauled it in and raced for the 16-yard score. Players said Domingue never dropped the pass once in practice.
“The bobble was all an act,” sophomore receiver Malachi Dupre said smiling. “He was trying to keep people on their toes.”
Domingue kept even himself on the edge of his seat. He said he blacked out on the way to the end zone, but he ran back across the field toward LSU’s sideline once he realized what had happened. That was almost a costly mistake.
“It was definitely the hardest extra point I’ve ever kicked, with all the adrenaline and the distance I ran,” Domingue said. “It was a long way, and I was pretty gassed. I just made sure it went through the uprights.”
His dad and girlfriend watched his first career touchdown from the stands. His mom was at work and his brother was driving, so they listened along on the radio.
“I would have loved to see their reactions,” the junior kicker said. Domingue did get to see one person’s reaction — Florida’s mascot, Albert, who dejectedly watched with his arms crossed as a 170-pound kicker’s fourth-quarter heroics spoiled the Gators’ undefeated season.
“I liked the mascot in the background with his arms folded,” Domingue said laughing. “I thought that was pretty ironic.”
Trent Domingue is 21 for 23 in field goals in his career.
High school junior: 3-4
High school senior: 9-9
LSU sophomore: 2-3
LSU junior: 7-7