6:00 PM ET, September 4, 2004
Tiger Stadium, BATON ROUGE, LA
BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) -- LSU got lucky, and Nick Saban knew it.
"We've got a lot of work to do as a team," the Tigers' coach said. "I think everyone knows that."
Oregon State's Alexis Serna missed three extra points Saturday night, including one that would have forced a second overtime, and (No. 3 ESPN/USA Today, No. 4 AP) LSU escaped with a 22-21 victory over the Beavers in the season opener.
"It was a crazy finish," LSU defensive end Marcus Spears said. "We fought as long as we could fight, and fortunately he missed that extra point. I'd like to think that we had something to do with that. We got a lot of pressure up the middle and I guess he took his eye off it."
The defending BCS champion Tigers trailed throughout the game, were shut out in the first half and behind 15-7 with 1:38 left.
The Tigers seemed sure to lose when they drove to the Oregon State 2 and failed to score with 3:39 left. But their defense gave them another shot.
LSU got the ball back for their final possession of regulation with 1:38 left. After JaMarcus Russell threw two incompletions, he hooked up with Dwayne Bowe for a 26-yarder then a 38-yard touchdown to cut Oregon State's lead to 15-13 with 1:05 left.
"I told the QB to trust me," Bowe said. "I said I'm not even going to run the route you call, I'm just going to get open. I was able to do that and in two plays I scored."
On the conversion, Russell ran to the left, stretched out the football and leaped into the end zone for two points to tie it at 15 and force overtime.
Oregon State won the toss but deferred in overtime. LSU scored on its first possession. Marcus Randall, who started the game at quarterback, came in when Russell was injured, and ran for a 5-yard touchdown, giving LSU it's first lead of the game, 22-15 with the extra point.
The Beavers weren't done.
Serna, a redshirt freshman who kicked a 40-yard field goal in the second quarter, sent the extra point wide right, giving LSU the victory.
"I told him there is not a lot you can say," Oregon State coach Mike Riley said. "It feels bad."
Riley said he tried to call a timeout before the PAT try to consider whether to kick or try for a two-point conversion, but was unable to get the officials attention.
"I just wanted to think about it," Riley said. "I didn't have my mind made up. But we had one timeout in the overtime period, so I was going to use it."
A heavy storm moved over the stadium just before kickoff. Officials sent the players back to the locker rooms because of lightning in the area. Kickoff was delayed almost an hour and the field was sloppy when play began.
LSU's offense was sloppy throughout. The Tigers showed no signs of the methodical offense that helped them win a championship last season.
Randall, who replaced Matt Mauck at quarterback, got off to a rough start. His first pass was intercepted and he completed only 7 of 18 for 66 yards. He was replaced at the start of the second half by Russell, who was 9-for-26 for 145 yards and threw two touchdowns.
The Tigers generated only 93 yards, 39 passing and four first downs in the first half.
"The first half we came out sluggish," Randall said. "Coach told us to keep playing hard. We just had a lot of mental errors."
Oregon State got an early break, recovering a fumble on the opening kickoff to set up on the LSU 25. They followed that with three straight penalties that gave them first-and-35 on the 50.
Anderson completed 5 of 6 passes, including a 6-yard touchdown toss to George Gillett, to put the Beavers up 6-0 after Serna's first missed PAT.
Serna's 40-yard field goal gave the Beavers a 9-0 lead at halftime.
LSU had a 57-yard touchdown reception by Bowe called back by a penalty and Chris Jackson's 41-yard field goal attempt fell well short in the first quarter.
Jackson attempted a 42-yarder in the second quarter that went wide right.
Anderson, who passed for 4,058 yards with 24 touchdowns and 24 interceptions in 2003, was 26-for-47 for 231 yards and three touchdowns. He had one interception and was sacked four times.
"This really hurt," Anderson said. "I'm not going to lie. We went out there and fought. I love my team and appreciate everything we did. We tried hard out there and just came up a little short."
Russell looked as if he would have no more success in his first two series than Randall had, going 0-for-4 passing and fumbling a snap. But on his third series things clicked.
The Beavers came back quickly, driving 65 yards with Anderson hitting Anthony Wheat-Brown for a 4-yard touchdown to make it 15-7 -- Serna missed the PAT -- when the third quarter ended.
Team Stat Comparison
|3rd Down Conversions||6-20||4-17|
|4th Down Conversions||1-2||0-1|
|TD||12:08||GEORGE GILLETT 6 YD PASS FROM DEREK ANDERSON (MISSED KICK)|
Drive info: 6 plays, 25 yards.
|FG||1:35||ALEXIS SERNA 40 YD FG|
Drive info: 5 plays, 52 yards.
|TD||5:41||SKYLER GREEN 16 YD PASS FROM JAMARCUS RUSSELL (CHRIS JACKSON KICK)|
Drive info: 9 plays, 79 yards.
|TD||0:48||ANTHONY WHEAT-BROWN 4 YD PASS FROM DEREK ANDERSON (MISSED KICK)|
Drive info: 9 plays, 65 yards.
|TD||1:05||DWAYNE BOWE 38 YD PASS FROM JAMARCUS RUSSELL (JAMARCUS RUSSELL 2PT RUSH)|
Drive info: 4 plays, 64 yards.
|TD||0:00||MARCUS RANDALL 5 YD RUN (CHRIS JACKSON KICK)|
Drive info: 5 plays, 25 yards.
|TD||0:00||JOE NEWTON 19 YD PASS FROM DEREK ANDERSON (MISSED KICK)|
Drive info: 4 plays, 25 yards.