Top 25: Danny Etling powers LSU Tigers past Chattanooga Mocs

By Peter Finney Jr., The Sports Xchange  |  Sept. 9, 2017 at 11:17 PM
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BATON ROUGE, La. -- Quarterback Danny Etling completed four passes of at least 36 yards, accounting for 227 passing yards and one touchdown, and tailback Derrius Guice gained 102 yards and scored twice to power No. 12 LSU to a 45-10 victory over the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga on Saturday night in Tiger Stadium.

Etling threw only 14 times, completing eight, but four of his throws went for 48 and 46 yards to D.J. Chark, 46 yards to Stephen Sullivan and 36 yards to Drake Davis.

Chark led LSU with 103 yards on three catches, and the speedy wide receiver added a 65-yard punt return for a touchdown that broke open the game 28-3 in the first half. Chark also had a 79-yard punt return for a TD called back by penalty.

Guice had his second consecutive 100-yard game, scoring from 1 and 6 yards in the first half before giving way to Darrel Williams, who scored on runs of 4 and 3 yards in the second half as LSU blew open the game.

The LSU defense recovered from a sluggish start. After Chattanooga accounted for 98 yards in total offense in the first quarter -- one yard more than BYU gained against LSU in the season opener -- the Tigers defense allowed 22 yards on 22 offensive plays in the next nine possessions, turning a 3-0 deficit into a 42-3 lead.

LSU (2-0) opens SEC play next on the road Saturday against Mississippi State (2-0). Chattanooga (0-2) will seek its first victory at home against UT Martin next week.

The LSU defense, which did not allow BYU to cross the 50-yard line in a season-opening win, was on its heels early against Chattanooga, allowing drives of 14 and 11 plays on the Mocs' first two possessions, which resulted in an early 3-0 lead on Victor Ulmo's 22-yard field goal.

But LSU began rolling up its cornerbacks and turned up the heat on Chattanooga quarterback Nick Tiano. On the last seven possessions of the first half, LSU intercepted Tiano twice (cornerback Greedy Williams and safety Kary Vincent) and forced three punts and a missed field goal.

LSU took the lead for good 7-3 on Etling's 36-yard play-action strike to Davis on the Tigers' first possession. Guice made it 14-3 with a 1-yard burst, capping a 57-yard drive that was set up by Stephen Sullivan's leaping 46-yard reception to the Chattanooga 11.

Chark had two long punt returns for touchdowns in the first half, but only one counted. His 79-yard return early in the second quarter was nullified by an illegal block, but Chark took it 65 yards to the house later in the quarter to give LSU a 28-3 lead with 3:22 left in the half.

LSU also scored on Guice's 6-yard run two minutes earlier.

NOTES: LSU hosted a special potential 2018 recruit -- Harrison (Ga.) High School QB Justin Fields -- for the first of his five official visits. Fields, 6-foot-3, 221 pounds, is rated the No. 1 dual-threat QB in the country and is being heavily recruited by Georgia, Florida State, Auburn and Alabama. LSU starting QB Danny Etling is a senior. ... RB Derrius Guice became the 16th player in LSU history to rush for more than 2,000 yards in his career. ... After committing 10 penalties for 86 yards in a 27-0 season-opening win over BYU last week, LSU was flagged 10 times for 69 yards in the first half, but only one for five yards in the second. "It's just sloppy," LSU coach Ed Orgeron said.

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