Despite slow start, No. 4 LSU rallies for huge win over Northwestern State
BATON ROUGE - Joe Burrow completed 21 of 24 passes for 373 yards and two touchdowns, and fourth-ranked LSU pulled away from Northwestern State in the second half for a 65-14 victory Saturday night.
Burrow has played through the third quarter only once in three games because of lopsided scores. He is now 75 of 90 (83.3 percent) passing for 1,122 yards and 11 touchdowns this season, making a case early on for the Heisman Trophy.
Burrow also ran for 30 yards and a touchdown against Northwestern State (0-3), an FCS team that was surprisingly competitive in the first half before the Tigers (3-0) dominated the third quarter.
In leading LSU to the 800th victory in the program's 126-year history, Burrow also became just the school's sixth quarterback to throw for 300 or more yards in consecutive games. Only Rohan Davey did it three times in a row, a mark Burrow can match next weekend.
Both of Burrow's TD tosses went to sophomore Terrace Marshall Jr., who has six touchdown catches this season after none last season.
The Tigers' Clyde Edwards-Helaire and Tyrion Davis-Price each ran for two TDs and John Emery had one, while Justin Jefferson caught five passes for 124 yards.
Northwestern State QB Shelton Eppler, who came in averaging 35 completions per game, connected on 21 of 38 passes for 225 yards and two touchdowns. Quan Shorts had eight catches for 66 yards and a TD, and David Fitzwater had 68 yards receiving and a score on just three catches.
LSU players heard a few boos after a surprisingly competitive first half ended with a 24-14 lead.
Having lost 33-7 at home to Division II Midwestern State a week earlier, the Demons were not expected to be competitive against a Tigers squad coming off a victory at Texas. But they took a 7-3 lead nevertheless when Eppler fired a 17-yard scoring pass to Shorts in the first quarter.
The Tigers responded with consecutive touchdown drives, one ending with Edwards-Helaire's 4-yard run and the other with Marshall's 14-yard catch. But Northwestern State came back with a six-play, 75-yard scoring drive, which ended with Fitzwater uncovered in the end zone after freshman cornerback Derek Stingley Jr. and outside linebacker Andre Anthony had lost track of the tight end.
LSU went back up 10 on Edwards-Helaire's second short TD run, but the Tigers' chance to widen the lead further before halftime took a hit when Dylan Wilson intercepted one of only two Burrow passes all half that did not find a receiver.
The Tigers turned up the intensity after halftime, scoring on their next four possessions while holding the Demons without a first down on their first three series of the third quarter.
LSU's Trey Palmer added a 54-yard punt return touchdown in the fourth quarter.
With LSU opening SEC play next weekend, a handful of starters and regulars were held out. They included wide receiver Ja'Marr Chase, tight end Thaddeus Moss, left tackle Saahdiq Charles, outside linebacker K'Lavon Chaisson, middle linebacker Michael Divinity and defensive ends Glen Logan and Rashard Lawrence.
While a number of Tigers appeared susceptible to a letdown early, the only player who remained sharp throughout was Burrow. In an otherwise forgettable first half for LSU, Burrow's 16-of-18 passing for 231 yards and a TD set him apart. He was even better after halftime, highlighted by his 48-yard completion to Jefferson and a 65-yard connection with Jontre Kirklin.
Despite its sluggish start, LSU's lopsided final margin of victory should help the Tigers remain among the top five.
Northwestern State visits Houston Baptist next Saturday.
LSU visits Vanderbilt next Saturday.