Two first-quarter touchdown catches help Tigers keep pace early
ATHENS, Ga. — With Jeremy Hill and the LSU running game struggling to get started against Georgia on Saturday afternoon, Zach Mettenberger found a familiar target for big plays.
Senior wide receiver Kadron Boone, who caught a touchdown pass in each of Mettenberger’s first three games as a starter last season but had just one catch through four games this season, made a couple of big plays early in the Tigers’ 44-41 loss to Georgia.
The Bulldogs drove to a 7-0 lead on the game’s first possession and had LSU in a third-and-7 on the ensuing possession as the mostly red-clad crowd of 92,746 started rocking.
Then Boone got open down the middle, snared a Mettenberger pass and sprinted to the end zone for a 48-yard score.
Georgia answered with another touchdown on the next possession, but Mettenberger and Boone came right back.
After Hill rushed for just 5 yards on his first three carries, LSU got him open with a swing pass that netted 13 yards and started another scoring drive.
Hill netted just 1 yard on his next three rushes, but the Tigers found the end zone on another third down as Mettenberger found Boone in the end zone from the 4.
That tied the score again, as Boone made the eighth touchdown reception of his career.
Boone’s day was done statistically, but he had done enough to get the offense started, and the Tigers’ more prolific players took it from there.
Eventually Hill found some running room, finishing with 86 yards and a touchdown on 21 carries.
LSU’s marquee receivers — Jarvis Landry and Odell Beckham Jr. — had 100 yards receiving in the same game for the second time this season. Landry caught 10 passes for 156 yards and a touchdown, and Beckham caught six passes for 188 yards and a touchdown.
In a 37-27 victory against TCU in the season opener, Landry caught eight passes for 109 yards and a touchdown, and Beckham caught five passes for 118 yards.
Coming into this game, all 10 of Mettenberger’s touchdown passes had gone to the Landry-Beckham tandem, Landry catching six and Beckham four.
Boone provided a long-awaited complement to those two, helping Mettenberger increase his touchdown total to 13, one more than he had last season.
“We already knew coming into the game the (Georgia) coaches were going to try and take away Jarvis and Odell,” Boone said. “So I just had to be patient, wait my turn and make the best of my opportunities.”
LSU scored on three of its six first-half possessions, scoring two touchdowns and a field goal to trail 24-17 at halftime.
The other possessions ended with two punts, and the half expired after a kickoff with 20 seconds left in the second quarter.
In the second half, the offense produced points on nearly every possession, but came up short in the end.
The Tigers scored a field goal and a touchdown on their first two second-half possessions.
The offense never took the field on the third possession because Beckham fumbled on a punt return, and Georgia recovered at the LSU 20, leading to a tie-breaking touchdown.
After consecutive touchdown drives gave LSU a late 41-37 lead, Georgia regained the lead at 44-41 with 1:47 left.
“They scored too early in my mind,” Tiger coach Les Miles said. “I figured we had enough time.”
It was up to the offense to drive to at least a tying field goal, if not a winning touchdown, to salvage the game. The Tigers got one first down to their 35, but Mettenberger threw four straight incompletions, the Bulldogs took over with 52 seconds left and ran out the clock.
“We were real confident; we run these situations every day,” Boone said.
“We failed to communicate a few times, so we have a few things we need to take care of. We correct those and we’ll come out with a victory. We knew it was going to be a dogfight coming in.”