LSU holds on for 35-26 win over Syracuse
BATON ROUGE — Danny Etling responded to a barrage of bruising blitzes with touchdown passes of 87 and 43 yards, and No. 25 LSU overcame bouts of inconsistency in a 35-26 victory over a relentless Syracuse squad on Saturday night.
Darrel Williams rushed for 92 yards, including a 20-yard touchdown in the third quarter.
Backup quarterback Myles Brennan entered the game in the middle of the third quarter with LSU (3-1) leading 21-10. It was unclear if Etling, who was sacked twice and leveled as he released several passes, was in pain. He remained standing on the sideline wearing a headset for three series, returning in the fourth quarter after Brennan threw an interception which helped Syracuse (2-2) pull as close as 28-26 with 5:40 left.
Taking advantage of a failed onside kick, the Tigers marched 56 yards for a game-clinching score with Etling back under center. Receiver D.J. Chark finished it off with a 20-yard run on an end-around with 1:52 left.
Etling finished 10 of 17 for 188 yards and two touchdowns, the longer one to Drake Davis early in the third quarter and the other to Stephen Sullivan in the second.
Syracuse gave LSU's offensive line fits throughout the game, once penetrating into the backfield to bring down Williams for a safety on the first play of a drive that began at the Tigers 1.
Orange quarterback Eric Dungey's night got off to a rough start. He was intercepted on the first play of the game by Andraez "Greedy" Williams, who returned the ball to the 1, setting up Derrius Guice's touchdown.
Dungey completed 32 of 53 passes for 265 yards. His 22-yard touchdown pass to Steve Ishmael in the fourth quarter pulled Syracuse within a field goal and had Orange fans in one corner of Tiger Stadium making themselves heard among seemingly stunned Tigers fans. Dungey also rushed for 24 yards, including a 14-yard score that made it 28-19 late in the third quarter.
Syracuse, which trailed 21-3 early in the third quarter, scored its first TD came on a gadget play that also required some improvisation. Receiver Devin Butler was prevented by penetrating LSU defenders from passing back to Dungey as apparently planned. He scrambled instead before throwing 30 yards over the middle to Ervin Phillips, who had slipped behind the defense during the scramble.
The play gave Syracuse life, just not enough to complete the comeback.
Syracuse: Whether or not they emerge as an ACC contender, the Orange could be a compelling team to watch this season. Syracuse made its share of plays on both sides of the ball, giving LSU fits at times. The Orange offense nearly matched LSU statistically, while Syracuse's defensive front punished Etling and pressured Brennan into a turnover.
LSU: The Tigers' latest outing might not have done much to boost their confidence or impress AP Poll voters. The offense was hampered by inconsistent blocking and was stifled on several drives, including four that stalled short of the Tigers 40 in the first half. LSU entered the game favored by about three touchdowns, and if not for Williams' interception and a pair of long TD passes, Syracuse might have become the first non-Southeastern Conference team in 49 years to beat LSU in Death Valley.
Syracuse visits North Carolina State to open ACC play.
LSU hosts Troy.