Tigers survive late surge by Bulldogs to win SEC opener, 28-25

LSU quarterback Max Johnson (14)
LSU quarterback Max Johnson (14)(Chris Parent | Chris Parent / LSU Athletics)
Published: Sep. 25, 2021 at 10:28 AM CDT|Updated: Sep. 25, 2021 at 3:06 PM CDT
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STARKVILLE, Miss. (WAFB) - The LSU Tigers (3-1) survived a late surge by Mississippi State (2-2) to win its SEC opener, 28-25.

Quarterback Max Johnson led the way for LSU on 280 yards passing and four touchdowns. Two of those scoring tosses went to wide receiver Kayshon Boutte.

Johnson became the first LSU quarterback since Rohan Davey in 1999 to throw for three touchdowns of 40 yards or more in a single game.

The Tigers were without two key defenders: All-American cornerback Derek Stingley Jr., who missed the game due to a foot injury he reaggravated from fall camp, and defensive end Andre Anthony, who will miss the remainder of the season with a knee injury.

RELATED: REPORT: Stingley Jr. expected to miss SEC opener, may miss multiple games

The Tigers allowed 486 yards of total offense by the Bulldogs, with 371 of that through the air. It was an improvement compared to last season’s game when K.J. Costello threw for an SEC record 623 yards against LSU.

LSU’s defense got things started in the first quarter when cornerback Cordale Flott caused a fumble that linebacker Damon Clark scooped up to put the Tigers in good field position. Johnson later capped off the drive with an 11-yard touchdown throw to Boutte, his seventh of the season, to give LSU a 7-0 lead.

The Tigers led the Bulldogs 7-3 at the break. On the first drive of the second half, Johnson hooked up with Boutte again. This time it was for a 64-yard touchdown to make it 14-3.

The Bulldogs tried to answer and put together a 14-play, 60-yard drive that resulted in a missed field goal to keep the game at 14-3. After trading punts, the Tigers added to their lead to make it 21-3 as Johnson found a wide open Trey Palmer for a 58-yard score.

The Bulldogs finally found the end zone late in the third quarter when Will Rogers hooked up with Makai Polk for a 29-yard score to make it 21-10. However, LSU answered with a nine-play, 75-yard drive capped off with Johnson finding tight end Kole Taylor for the score, his first career touchdown, to make it 28-10.

Mississippi State answered the LSU score with a touchdown drive of its own as Rogers connected with Austin Williams from two yards out to make it 28-17.

The Bulldogs’ defense then got a much-needed three-and-out against LSU and Rogers threw his third touchdown of the game as he found Jo’quavious Marks for the 16-yard score. The Bulldogs were successful on the two-point try to make it 28-25. Mississippi State then tried an onside kick but was unable to recover it.

LSU will return home to face Auburn on Saturday, October 2, at 8 p.m.

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