Terrill Weil, TigerRag.com

LSU routs UT-Chattanooga 45-10 in home opener

September 09, 2017 - 11:05 pm

By JAMES MORAN | Tiger Rag Associate Editor

Ed Orgeron first came to Tiger Stadium on a recruiting visit. He remembers being on the sidelines as the Tigers administered a 77-0 thrashing of Rice on Sept. 24, 1977.

His first game inside Death Valley as LSU’s full-fledged head coach would be equally devoid of drama.

Big plays were the order of the day in all three facets of the game as LSU dispatched FCS foe UT-Chattanooga, 45-10, quickly dispersing any notions of a trap game in the home opener at Tiger Stadium on Saturday night.

LSU (2-0) still has some issues to clean up before it heads to Starkville next week for its Southeastern Conference opener against Mississippi State, but the Tigers outscored its opponents by a combined score of 72-10 in two dominant showings.

Quarterback Danny Etling played more like a confident gunslinger than a game manager in leading a noticeably more explosive aerial attack. He completed 8-of-14 passes for 227 yards with one touchdown and zero turnovers.

Derrius Guice churned out 102 yards and two touchdowns on the ground to complement the downfield shots. Wideout DJ Chark recorded his first career 100-yard receiving game on just three receptions and returned a punt for a touchdown.

LSU outgained Chattanooga (0-2) 454-242, forced three turnovers — one on downs — recorded five sacks and scored on special teams in an all-around overwhelming effort that produced 42 unanswered points.

Chattanooga took the opening kickoff and drove deep into LSU territory — a feat BYU didn’t accomplish once in the season opener — before LSU forced the Mocs to settle for a 22-yard field goal from Victor Ulmo.

Trailing for the first time this season, Danny Etling led LSU right back down the field with a response. The senior scrambled to convert on third-and-long and then found a wide-open Drake Davis in the end zone for a 36-yard touchdown strike off two play action fakes.

LSU tacked on to that early lead after a fourth-down stop by the defense. Etling went deep off play action again and big-bodied receiver Stephen Sullivan — listed at 6 foot 6 — outleaped two defenders to come down with a 46-yard jump ball.

Three carries later Guice plunged into the end zone from one yard out to put the Tigers ahead 14-3 after the first quarter. Etling’s first four completions went for 155 yards as LSU raced into the lead.

Chattanooga hung around, aided by a missed field goal and a host of penalties, including one that whipped out a punt return touchdown, right up until LSU cornerback Greedy Williams jumped a curl route and picked Mocs quarterback Nick Tiano — his second in as many career games.

Set up in plus territory, Guice immediately ripped off a 25-yard gain up the middle and three plays later he battled into the end zone from six yards out for his second score of the first half.

Stingy since the opening drive, LSU forced another punt and DJ Chark took it 65 yards for a touchdown — no flags, this time. An acrobatic, one-handed interception by Kary Vincent off a tipped pass on the next drive, but it only led to another missed field goal.

LSU kept the pedal down after halftime. Darrel Williams capped off a methodical 13-play drive out of the break with a short scoring plunge. One possession later, a 48-yard circus catch by Chark set up another Williams touchdown to put LSU ahead 42-3.

Chattanooga finally broke a string of 42 unanswered points with an 86-yard touchdown drive in the fourth quarter. The score broke a string 11 consecutive quarters in which Dave Aranda’s unit hadn’t allowed an opponent into the end zone.

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