(Saturday, August 30th)
Final Score: (7) LSU 41, Appalachian State 13
Baton Rouge, LA (Sports Network) - Charles Scott ran for a career-high 160 yards and two touchdowns, as seventh-ranked LSU opened defense of its national championship with a 41-13 rout of Appalachian State at Tiger Stadium.
Appalachian State (0-1), the three-time defending champion of the Football Championship Subdivision (formerly I-AA), pulled off the shocker of 2007 last September with a season-opening win at the Big House against Michigan, but could not muster the same magic in Death Valley.
LSU (1-0) captured the national championship last season with a 38-24 victory over Ohio State in the BCS title game, but this edition of the Tigers has many new faces this year -- including two players battling for time at quarterback.
Andrew Hatch and Jarrett Lee both saw plenty of action behind center in the opener. Hatch completed 7-of-14 passes for 77 yards with a touchdown, while Lee connected on 6-of-10 throws for 116 yards with a pair of scores. Hatch also ran for 43 yards on seven carries.
Appalachian State quarterback Armanti Edwards, who orchestrated last year's victory over Michigan and is among the preseason favorites for the Walter Payton Award as the top player in FCS, was held in check by the stout LSU defense. He completed just 13-of-31 passes for 155 yards with a touchdown and ran for just 23 yards on 12 attempts.
LSU outgained Appalachian State 459-239 and held a rushing advantage of 266-52.
"We ran the football like we needed to," said LSU head coach Les Miles. "We probably tried to force the pass as best we could just to get some of these young guys some experience. I thought that they did good. I thought that they handled it well. Certainly, there's room for improvement. We had two turnovers, and we can't have those. Our guys know that, and they'll certainly understand the correction that needs to be made. That will be forthcoming."
The game was moved from a 4:00 p.m. (ct) start to 10 a.m. with the threat of Hurricane Gustav on the horizon. The Tigers got the early wake-up call, while the Mountaineers did not.
Appalachian State took the opening kickoff and moved from its own 22 to the LSU 35, but a fourth-down pass fell incomplete and the Tigers needed just two plays to find the end zone.
Scott raced through the middle and cut to the right sideline for a 56-yard jaunt on the first play, then burst through virtually the same hole untouched for an eight-yard touchdown run for a quick 7-0 lead.
LSU got the ball back after a punt and marched 56 yards on 10 plays for another score. Hatch hit Demetrius Byrd with a short pass and he turned it into a 17-yard touchdown to increase the advantage to 14-0 with 5:40 to play in the opening period.
The third Tiger possession resulted in a 21-yard field goal from Josh Jasper on the first play of the second quarter to make it 17-0, and following a series of punts, Lee threw a 31-yard touchdown pass to Brandon LaFell with 5:35 to play in the half for a 24-point cushion.
After Appalachian State turned the ball over on downs near midfield, LSU drove 48 yards for another score just 17 seconds before the intermission. Scott capped the series with a 29-yard touchdown run to send the Tigers into the break with a 31-0 advantage.
"The offensive line opened up big holes for me and I just found them," said Scott.
LSU dominated the opening 30 minutes, outgaining Appalachian State 323-119. Scott, alone, ran for 144 yards in the first half and the Mountaineers managed just five first downs.
"Our team played with great intensity to start," Miles added. "In my opinion, we came off the football and did things on offense and defense that they needed to do. I liked our first 30 minutes, certainly."
The Mountaineers finally scored with just over six minutes to play in the third quarter when Edwards found Robert Welton alone along the seam with a 44- yard touchdown pass.
Jasper kicked a 33-yard field goal on LSU's next possession and the Tigers turned it over on their next series. Lee's pass was picked off by Jacque Roman and returned to the LSU 11. The Mountaineers, however, managed only a 24-yard field goal from Jason Vitaris on the first play of the fourth quarter to pull within 34-10.
Lee atoned for the mistake on his next series, throwing a 39-yard touchdown pass to LaFell for LSU's last score. The Mountaineers got a 44-yard field goal from Vitaris in the final seconds.
"If we are smart as coaches and if our players buy into it, we can take as much out of a loss to these guys as we can from a win from Michigan," said ASU head coach Jerry Moore. "We could have beaten these guys, just as we did Michigan. It would have gotten a lot of notoriety and stuff, but it wouldn't have meant a thing to our conference. Our goal is to prepare to win the Southern Conference Championship. That is our goal. I think we wasted four hours today if we don't leave here thinking we can be a better football team."
LaFell finished with four catches for 87 yards...LSU earned a 24-0 victory over Appalachian State in the lone previous meeting in 2005...The Tigers have won six straight season-openers and improved to 82-28-5 all-time in season- openers.
08/30 18:10:50 ET