The first offensive drive for LSU in Saturday night’s huge Southeastern Conference game with No. 22 Auburn was certainly unconventional.
Starting at its 9-yard line after Auburn had to punt, LSU needed eight plays to reach the end zone.
Because of a 10-yard holding penalty on left tackle Anthony Bradford and a 22-yard loss on a wayward snap to quarterback Max Johnson, LSU gained 123 yards on what went into the books as a 91-yard touchdown drive.
On the long drive, Johnson completed all six of his pass attempts for 122 yards, and Kayshon Boutte had three receptions for 99 yards.
Johnson’s 31-yard pass to Boutte on the play after the bad snap gave LSU its only touchdown of the evening in a 24-19 loss.
The touchdown marked the fourth game in a row that LSU scored on its opening series.
Johnson connected with Trey Palmer for a 19-yard score in the Tigers’ second game against McNeese State, hit Deion Smith Jr. with a 28-yard pass against Central Michigan, and teamed with Boutte for an 11-yard score against Mississippi State.
On the other hand, the LSU defense did not allow a score on the opponents’ opening possession for the fifth consecutive game.
Getting his kicks
All-American kicker Cade York booted field goals of 33, 26, 22 and 51 yards, and now has made 12 in a row dating to last season.
York’s 51-yarder in the third quarter was his third of the season in as many tries in LSU’s first five games. He is now 13 of 15 for his three-year career from 50-plus yards.
He has a long of 56 yards this season.
After missing three games in a row, left tackle Cameron Wire returned Saturday.
Wire, who started the season opener against UCLA, was injured in the first half of that game, then was sidelined for LSU’s wins over McNeese State, Central Michigan and Mississippi State.
Wire shed a gold noncontact jersey for practice Thursday, coach Ed Orgeron said, and took snaps with the second-team offensive line during warmups.
Bradford started, but Wire replaced him in the second quarter. Bradford returned to start the second half.
Bradford was the fourth player to start at left tackle after Wire (UCLA), redshirt freshman Xavier Hill (McNeese State, Central Michigan) and freshman Garrett Dellinger (Mississippi State).
Sophomore center/guard Charles Turner also returned from injury, giving the offensive line valuable depth. Turner was the second-team center during warmups.
Sitting it out
Junior running back John Emery Jr., who had the latest appeal of his academic ineligibility denied by the NCAA last week, was not seen on the sideline. Neither was injured cornerback Derek Stingley Jr.
LSU had a long list of players who did not dress out.
Among the missing were wide receivers Koy Moore and Chris Hilton Jr., defensive tackle Glen Logan, safety Todd Harris Jr., linebackers Jared Small and Josh White, quarterback Myles Brennan, defensive ends Andre Anthony and Zavier Carter, and offensive linemen Kardell Thomas and Thomas Perry.
Freshman defensive back Sage Ryan, a former five-star recruit, dressed out for the first time in his college career after missing the first four games with an injury that lingered since preseason camp.
When Johnson found Boutte for a 55-yard gain on LSU’s first offensive play Saturday night, it was the Tigers’ third pass of more than 50 yards in the past two games.
Johnson threw a 64-yard touchdown to Boutte in the third quarter against Mississippi State, then hit Palmer for a 58-yard scoring strike, also in the third quarter.
Saturday's touchdown was Boutte’s ninth of the season and 13th in the past seven games dating to last season.
LSU safety Jay Ward blocked a 52-yard field-goal attempt by Auburn’s Anders Carlson in the third quarter. It was the second blocked field goal of Ward’s career as he had one that preserved a 27-24 lead with 1:24 left in last year’s game at Arkansas. … LSU senior wide receiver Jontre Kirklin and senior defensive end Soni Fonua were declared academically eligible earlier in the week and played for the first time this season Saturday. … Kirklin was so eager to play that he was penalized for being offside on the opening kickoff.
Staff writer Wilson Alexander contributed to this report.