The spark LSU true freshman quarterback Brandon Harris provided wasn’t relagated to the offensive side of the football.
Harris’ presence seemed to invigorate an entire team stuck in a first-quarter malaise and in the process sent the No. 17 Tigers to a convincing 63-7 victory Saturday over New Mexico State.
Harris directed LSU (4-1) on seven straight touchdown drives, turning a lackluster 14-0 lead into a runaway victory that was the Tigers’ 49th straight over nonconference opponents.
Harris accounted for 214 total yards and five touchdowns, completing 11 of 14 passes for 214 yards and three scores. He also carried five times for 36 yards and two TDs.
True freshman running back Leonard Fournette delivered a career-high 18 carries for 122 yards and a pair of touchdowns.
LSU outgained New Mexico 563-274 with 363 of that coming on the ground on 54 attempts.
Starting quarterback Anthony Jennings struggled mightly during his one quarter of work, contributing to three of his team’s four turnovers. Jennings was 2 of 5 for 11 yards, getting picked off twice in his first three attempts and lost a fumble.
LSU took advantage of a 1-yard punt to drive 40 yards for a 7-0 lead on Terrence Magee’s 11-yard run before the defense, which forced four turnovers, got into the scoring act when middle linebacker Kendell Beckwith returned an interception 29 yards with 19 seconds left in the opening quarter.
With Harris taking over on LSU’s first series of the second quarter, Fournette carried seven times for 56 yards, bouncing a play designed to the right back to the left, shaking off a tackle and scoring from 17 yards out to make it 21-0.
Harris connected with his favorite target – fellow true freshman Malachi Dupre – on a touchdown for the third time in two games, this time on a 27 yarder, before the Tigers finished the half on Fournette’s 5-yard run and Harris’ 3-yard pass to fullback Melvin Jones for a 42-7 halftime advantage.
Harris had a hand in LSU’s next three scores with a 10-yard pass to Travin Dural to go along with scoring runs of 1 and 3, yards, respectively.
What you need to know
1) With Brandon Harris at the controls, LSU went to a no-huddle, up-tempo spread offense that resulted in seven consecutive scoring drives.
2) Sophomore cornerback/nickelback Dwayne Thomas left the field in the first half and didn’t return after reportedly suffering a sprained right knee. The Tigers also lost the services of starting fullback Connor Neighbors because of a concussion.
3) LSU senior running back Kenny Hilliard did not come back into the game after losing a first-quarter until late in the third quarter with the Tigers in total command at 56-7.
4) New Mexico State’s Kawe Johnson forced two fumbles and intercepted Anthony Jennings – all in the first quarter.
5) LSU unvieled freshman walk on Miquel James of Kentwood, who carried twice for 24 yards.