By Bob Hertzel
Times West Virginian
Sometimes it pays to go against the book, as the veteran LSU coach Les Miles knows.
Just before halftime of a game LSU would eventually win, Miles’ Tigers were leading 20-7 and had stopped WVU on third down, setting up a sure punting situation with 44 seconds left to play.
But Miles opted to accept a holding penalty, giving WVU another shot on third down in the closing seconds.
The reasoning was sound ... he has one of the nation’s best defenses and most everything that could happen in that situation was bad for WVU, a team whose coach’s history said he wouldn’t play it safe, run a play and run out the clock.
On third and 19 from the 25 Geno Smith tried to throw a quick out, only to have LSU’s Tyrann Mathews, who caused 10 turnovers last year as a freshman, step in, bat the pass in the air, intercept it and take it to the 1.
Now, take hold of this all you
recruitniks. Mathews’ offers out of high school, according to Brett McMurphy of CBSSports.com, were from Florida International, Hampton, Louisiana-Monroe, Miami (Ohio), SMU, Southern Miss and Tulane.
It was the second turnover of the night he had caused and led to a crushing touchdown that made it 27-7 at the half. WVU turned the ball over three times in the first half, leading to 13 of the points.
The Mountaineers rallied briefly in the second half, but could not get out of their own way often enough, making enough mistakes to cost their last chance at winning.
Bet LSU is. At 13:13 of the second quarter WVU’s Geno Smith completed a fourth-down pass to Tavon Austin to keep a drive going. Two plays later, Smith hit Stedman Bailey with a 20-yard scoring pass.
It was the seventh straight game in which Smith has thrown a touchdown pass.
o Here’s something you won’t see very often.
Starting with LSU’s first possession, a grand total of 34 consecutive plays were run with the ball on the 50 or in WVU territory.
That meant the Mountaineers were unable to cross midfield and LSU never took possession on its side of the field, intercepting a pass and recovering a fumble in WVU territory.
o WVU made a lineup change for the game on defense.
Junior college transfer Josh Francis, who many believed would be the starter but was beaten out by Casey Vance, a senior from West Virginia, was moved into the starting lineup.
o It didn’t take long for these two teams to let the world know it was a big game, a skirmish breaking out on the third offensive play by WVU.
Center Joey Madsen was hit with an unnecessary roughness call. Before the half was over, LSU also picked one up.
o Scary moment on kickoff after LSU’s third TD gave the Tigers a 20-7 lead.
The kickoff went to Tavon Austin and special team player Craig Loston came flying down the field at him.
Austin got part way by him as Loston reached out and tripped him up, clipping his helmet as he went by.
Loston lay unconscious on the field as trainers came out. LSU players kneeled not far from him as he was worked on for some time, a look of concern on their faces.
Loston did get to his feet eventually as the crowd cheered.
Email Bob Hertzel at email@example.com.