9:00 PM ET, September 10, 2005
Sun Devil Stadium, TEMPE, AZ
TEMPE, Ariz. (AP) -- LSU came a long way to start its season, and JaMarcus Russell made the trip worthwhile.
Russell passed 39 yards to Early Doucet for a climactic touchdown that handed the No. 5 Tigers a 35-31 victory over No. 15 Arizona State on Friday night, giving coach Les Miles a victory in his hurricane-delayed LSU debut.
"We've been practicing for so long, and this is our first game," Russell said. "Not taking anything from the other guys, but we just had it in our heart that we were ready. A few times, a lot of people were sleeping in some of our players' apartments. At practice you could really tell, see the look on those guys' faces what they were going through away from practice.
"You can tell when someone is down"
Doucet, who had several drops before making all three of his catches in the fourth quarter, went high to pull down Russell's pass on the left side of the end zone and got one foot in at landing with 1:13 remaining. It was the Tigers' fourth TD in a furious fourth quarter that began with them trailing 17-7.
"Early Doucet had to have an all-time bad first three quarters and then come up with one of the great catches and great plays in LSU history," Miles said.
The Tigers' defense still had to stop the Sun Devils (1-1) one last time after Sam Keller threw passes of 27 and 25 yards to start a final drive. LSU accomplished that at its own 28, as Keller threw four straight incompletions. LaRon Landry got between the ball and ASU's Derek Hagan on third down, and Ronnie Prude went to the ground with Terry Richardson after a low pass on fourth with 31 seconds to go.
Joseph Addai ran for 109 yards and two TDs on 16 carries, but special teams led the Tigers' comeback from a 17-7 deficit in the fourth quarter.
With the offenses and defenses at a stalemate, LSU's Mario Stevenson scored on a 55-yard return of a blocked field goal, and Craig Steltz added the go-ahead touchdown 80 seconds later, returning a blocked punt 29 yards to lift LSU to its first lead, 21-17, with 13:27 left in the game.
"There's a 10-point turnaround right there," Arizona State coach Dirk Koetter said about Jesse Ainsworth's 47-yard field-goal attempt batted down by defensive tackle Claude Wroten. "If you go back all the way to the first extra point of the game where we went up 7-0, we were having penetration all night on the right side of our line."
The Sun Devils' Sam Keller passed for the last two of his four TDs before LSU began its winning drive with 4:07 to go.
The contest, originally scheduled to be played in Baton Rouge, La., was moved in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.
The storm also delayed the debut of Miles, who left Oklahoma State after three straight bowl years, by forcing postponement of a Sept. 3 game against North Texas, and LSU's lack of game experience showed in 11 penalties for 100 yards. At the end, though, the experience of a veteran team showed through.
Keller, asked to replace the Oakland Raiders' Andrew Walter, was 35-of-56 for 461 yards in his third game as a starter, throwing scoring passes of 25 and 26 yards to Jamaal Lewis, 8 yards to Rudy Burgess and 4 yards to Moey Mutz.
The last gave the Sun Devils a 31-28 lead and an apparent upset in their first game against a Southeastern Conference team. Arizona State played Arkansas in 1951 and 1985, before the Razorbacks joined the conference, and lost both games.
"It's probably the best game I've ever been in so far, as far as competing and playing against a really good team," Keller said. "That's the fastest, best team I've ever seen."
Addai scored on 1- and 5-yard runs, the second capping an 80-yard drive fueled by two big plays by Skyler Green, who caught a 13-yard pass and then ran 41 yards to the ASU 6.
"A lot of people on the team are from Louisiana, so some people didn't talk to their parents, some people didn't talk to their families, so I think this win that we did was a big thing for the state of Louisiana so they could turn to something else," Addai said.
LSU had a 19-play, 80-yard drive that burned up 11:02 of the first and second quarters, but came away with nothing to show for it when Russell lost the ball dropping back on a first-and-goal play at the 6-yard line, and defensive tackle Jordan Hill recovered on the 19 with 12:03 left in the second quarter. The play went in the books as a 13-yard sack.
Until then, LSU's defense had held the Sun Devils in check. However, Arizona State's luck turned with the turnover.
The Sun Devils were helped by two 15-yard penalties to reach the LSU 25.
Two plays later, Lewis caught the ball diving into the end zone with 9:50 left in the quarter.
LSU answered quickly, helped Russell's 17-yard pass to Xavier Carter and a 28-yarder to Bennie Brazell to the ASU 1. Addai barged in on the next play, tying the score with 6:15 remaining. But Arizona State still had time to take a 10-7 halftime lead after Keller hooked up with Lee Burghgraef on a 44-yard pass-run moving within range of Jesse Ainsworth's 26-yard field goal with 3:58 to go.
Burgess' scoring reception was the only score of the third.
Top 25 Overview
It was over when... Arizona State's Sam Keller's fourth-down pass fell incomplete with 31 seconds to give LSU a thrilling win.
Gameball goes to... the Tigers. LSU capped an emotional couple of weeks with a thrilling come-from-behind win over the Sun Devils.
Stat of the game... 1,003: The Sun Devils and Tigers combined for over 1,000 yards of total offense in the game.
Team Stat Comparison
|3rd Down Conversions||6-15||9-17|
|4th Down Conversions||3-3||1-2|
|TD||9:50||JAMAAL LEWIS 25 YD PASS FROM SAM KELLER (JESSE AINSWORTH KICK)|
Drive info: 8 plays, 81 yards.
|TD||6:15||JOSEPH ADDAI 1 YD RUN (COLT DAVID KICK)|
Drive info: 12 plays, 80 yards.
|FG||3:58||JESSE AINSWORTH 26 YD FG|
Drive info: 8 plays, 71 yards.
|TD||5:58||RUDY BURGESS 8 YD PASS FROM SAM KELLER (JESSE AINSWORTH KICK)|
Drive info: 14 plays, 75 yards.
|TD||14:47||MARIO STEVENSON 55 YD BLOCKED FG RETURN (COLT DAVID KICK)||14||17|
|TD||13:27||CRAIG STELTZ 29 YD BLOCKED PUNT RETURN (COLT DAVID KICK)||21||17|
|TD||11:27||JAMAAL LEWIS 26 YD PASS FROM SAM KELLER (JESSE AINSWORTH KICK)|
Drive info: 8 plays, 75 yards.
|TD||8:26||JOSEPH ADDAI 5 YD RUN (COLT DAVID KICK)|
Drive info: 7 plays, 80 yards.
|TD||4:07||MOEY MUTZ 4 YD PASS FROM SAM KELLER (JESSE AINSWORTH KICK)|
Drive info: 13 plays, 80 yards.
|TD||1:13||EARLY DOUCET III 39 YD PASS FROM JAMARCUS RUSSELL (COLT DAVID KICK)|
Drive info: 10 plays, 91 yards.