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ESPN's Rece Davis, left, interviews LSU linebacker Patrick Queen (8) as he stands alongside LSU safety Grant Delpit (7) holding the National Championship trophy, following LSU's 42-25 win over Clemson, Monday, January 13, 2020, at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans, La.

Two of LSU’s defensive playmakers treated the 30-pound College Football Playoff trophy quite different.

Safety Grant Delpit cradled it, longingly looking at the black and gold logo like a proud father, while linebacker Patrick Queen hoisted LSU’s newest piece of hardware above his head in jubilation.

Confetti coated the field at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome as Queen began to speak. His LSU teammates surrounded him, all decked out in national championship apparel. The purple and gold faithful all cheered for him and all their national champion LSU Tigers as the team basked in the reflective glow off the gold streamers circling the stage.

The Ventress native couldn't help but smile. Queen sparked LSU's defense against Clemson, earning the game's defensive MVP award for his on-the-field production.

Queen — with a purple WWE-title-esque belt draped over his shoulder — stood on the stage near the 10-yard line, speaking to thousands of LSU fans still standing in their seats.

"This guy here, Patrick Queen, had a great game," LSU coach Ed Orgeron said after the game. "We had to tackle in space. Had great athletes in space, and this guy made some great tackles tonight." 

The junior linebacker tallied eight tackles — six unassisted — two of which were tackles for loss. All but one those takedowns came in the second half. That marked 16 total tackles in the playoff games for Queen, coming just shy of topping his season-high of nine he set against Ole Miss. The six solo tackles were a season-high him. 

What did this mean to Queen? The world, he said. In response, purple and gold-clad fans chanted "L-S-U," sending the team off to the locker room to celebrate the program’s fourth national title.

Clemson running back Travis Etienne had been an anchor for the orange Tigers all season, breaking his school record for yards rushing Monday, but Queen kept him in check in the second half.

Five of Queen's eight tackles sent Etienne to the ground, helping limit the Jennings native to just 14 yards rushing after halftime. 

"I think the defense took it upon themselves," Orgeron said. "... We didn't talk about it, but when we changed from first to second or something like that because of the defense, I think that was an advantage for us." 

The game essentially ended when Delpit, a New Orleans native, wrapped up Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence with gusto.

Delpit's hit knocked the ball loose and freshman cornerback Derek Stingley Jr. hit the deck to recover his first fumble of his collegiate career.

The defense's collective effort kept the Clemson Tigers at bay, at least in the second half.

Clemson ran out to a 17-7 lead early in the second quarter, using big plays to jump ahead.

Lawrence connected with one of his favorite receivers in Braden Galloway for a 42-yard pass to open Clemson's first scoring drive.

Clemson found the end zone four plays later to get on the board first with six minutes remaining in the first quarter. That drive was also partially propelled by a personal foul penalty committed by freshman defensive lineman Apu Ika for illegal hands to the face, giving Clemson a fresh set of downs and field position within the 10-yard line.

The orange Tigers scored on their next two drives to up up 10-7 and 17-7, using explosive plays to find the end zone on the latter drive. Lawrence hit wide receiver Justyn Ross for a 24-yard connection, then Etienne darted downfield for a 29-yard rush. Wide receiver Tee Higgins ended the drive two plays later, breaking off for a 36-yard touchdown run to send the Clemson faithful into a frenzy.

That was the penultimate time Clemson scored.

At the end of the first half, Queen said LSU coach Ed Orgeron calmed down the defense. 

"We all just gathered together and played team defense," Queen said of the message.

The final time coming early in the third quarter when Etienne's 3-yard rushing score pulled Clemson within three points.

The LSU defense shut out Clemson from there.

In Clemson's final four drives, those Tigers went 0-of-4 on third downs, contributing to their 1-of-11 effort for the game. Lawrence credited LSU’s defense for scheming Clemson well, but also said at least for of those missed third downs were throwing miscues or well-defended balls.

Eight different LSU players registered at least a share of a tackle for loss, greatly affecting what Clemson could do offensively.

Queen led the way with 2½ tackles for loss, while cornerback Kristian Fulton, Delpit, defensive end Rashard Lawrence and defensive end Glen Logan all had one. Safety JaCoby Stevens and defensive lineman Neil Farrell shared a tackle for loss, as well.

One of those biggest tackles for loss came early when Delpit sacked Lawrence for a loss of 10 yards in the opening drive.

And Delpit ended it, too, with his fumble-forcing Lawrence tackle.

"Coach (Dave) Aranda had a great game plan since day one when we started studying them," Queen said. "And we trusted him and went to work on it, and together, to be able to make those kind of plays, I want to give God the glory for it." 


Contact Amie Just at ajust@theadvocate.com.