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LSU wide receiver Terrace Marshall Jr. (6) celebrates his touchdown reception along with LSU wide receiver Justin Jefferson (2) during the first half of LSU's football game against Georgia Southern at Tiger Stadium Saturday August 31, 2019, in Baton Rouge, La.

On the night before the first game of the 2019 season, LSU wide receiver Terrace Marshall plugged headphones into his ears, pulled the covers of the hotel bed over his head and imagined himself catching the first touchdowns of his career.

Marshall could still picture Tigers wide receiver coach Mickey Joseph telling his position group his common advice: "Envision what you do and what you're going to do."

In LSU's 55-3 victory over Georgia Southern, the 6-foot-4, 200-pound sophomore was going to do what he didn't do in 2018: Score.

More than that, Marshall would etch his name in the Tigers' record book alongside former All-American Odell Beckham with three touchdowns in a single game.

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Marshall, a Bossier City native and former five-star recruit, didn't have a break-out true freshman season, in which he caught 12 passes for 192 yards without a touchdown.

LSU coaches say Marshall wasn't himself then. He was still recovering from devastating injuries that happened on the second game of his senior year at Parkway High, when he suffered a broken fibula and a dislocated ankle.

Ed Orgeron said Marshall had an impressive rehab, and that after going through his first offseason program it was clear that Marshall was "a phenomenal receiver for us."

"He can catch the deep ball better than anybody I've seen," Joseph said in June.

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By the third drive of Saturday night's game in Tiger Stadium, LSU led 14-0 and quarterback Joe Burrow had already thrown the first of what would be a school record-tying five touchdown passes in a single game. 

Burrow unfurled a deep pass to Marshall from the Georgia Southern 41. The ball hung in the air, late. Marshall pulled back in the end zone and nearly made the catch over the back of an Eagles defender, but the football fell incomplete.

Time passed, almost tantalizing Marshall, until LSU reached third-and-goal at the Georgia Southern 8 at the start of the second quarter.

Marshall sped toward two Eagles defenders in the end zone, chopped his feet to a stop and abruptly turned. In LSU's new spread offense, the wide receivers had been told to always expect the ball to come their way. And there it was, spinning toward him.

Marshall fell forward and caught the first touchdown of his collegiate career. He popped up, spun the ball behind him, then pressed his palms toward the sky with a thankful prayer.

LSU: Terrace Marshall

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"I was so happy for him," said Burrow, who finished the game 23 of 27 passing for 278 yards and five touchdowns. "He didn't get any touchdowns last year, so I was looking for him tonight."

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For a long stretch in the first half, Marshall was all Burrow needed to look for.

The tandem completed three straight touchdown passes of 8, 3 and 11 yards to bury Georgia Southern 42-3 at halftime.

Marshall finished the game with four catches for 31 yards, and the three touchdowns tied 14 other LSU receivers, including Beckham, for third-most touchdowns caught in a single game in school history — two shy of the record set by Carlos Carson against Rice in 1977, when he caught five touchdowns.

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LSU wide receiver Terrace Marshall Jr. (6) celebrates after scoring in the first half against Georgia Southern, Saturday, August 31, 2019, at LSU's Tiger Stadium in Baton Rouge, La.

The success that rose out of a former injury was enough to make junior tight end Thaddeus Moss smile in a postgame interview. Moss himself missed the 2018 season with a foot injury and caught the first two passes of his LSU career against Georgia Southern.

"(Marshall) put in a lot of work this offseason," said Moss, whose two catches went for 61 yards. "It was really good to see the results finally show the work he's put in, and I know he's going to have a good season."

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Marshall does find himself on the losing end of a bet between the two other starting LSU receivers, Ja'Marr Chase and Justin Jefferson.

The three teammates made a bet in the offseason on who would catch the first touchdown of the season, and it ended up being Chase on a 13-yard score on the first drive of the game.

Chase laughed after the game and said he'd probably settle the bet by going out to dinner sometime on his teammate's dime.

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LSU wide receiver Terrace Marshall Jr. (6) pulls in a touchdown pass as LSU wide receiver Justin Jefferson (2) blocks Georgia Southern linebacker Jay Bowdry (5) during the first half of LSU's football game against Georgia Southern at Tiger Stadium Saturday August 31, 2019, in Baton Rouge, La.

All three receivers caught touchdown passes against Georgia Southern, and 14 different receivers had at least one reception — a diversity that was promised in LSU's new spread offense, of which first-year passing game coordinator Joe Brady made a habit of saying "everybody eats."

LSU outgained Georgia Southern 472-98 in total offensive yards, and the Tigers seem to be in full form for its top-10 showdown with No. 10 Texas in Austin next Saturday.

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"When you call a play and have answers to every coverage and every blitz, that's a good feeling," Burrow said. "If they drop eight and take away all the verticals, I have (running back) Clyde (Edwards-Helaire) underneath and I can check down. I have a flat route coming across the formation. I have answers no matter what they give us."

And on Saturday night, Burrow's answer was mostly Marshall.

"It felt so good to actually just say I'm back," Marshall said. "I'm back at just being me. I'm back at just showing what I can do at the highest level, at my highest level. I'm just blessed. I thank God."

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Email Brooks Kubena at bkubena@theadvocate.com.