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|LSU hangs for 30-24 win over UNC|
BATON ROUGE -- Two of the finest athletes in college football helped the 21st-ranked LSU football team take a 20-point lead over No. 18 North Carolina before the Tigers held off a fierce fourth-quarter rally on Saturday evening in the Georgia Dome, 30-24.
LSU cornerback Patrick Peterson had a school-record 257 return yards (157 punt/100 kickoff), including an 87-yard touchdown. Speedy wide receiver Russell Shepard scored LSU's first two touchdowns of the season.
The Tigers (1-0) had taken control of the Chick-fil-A College Kickoff, leading 30-10 at the half.
LSU maintained the lead until the final 10 minutes, when a 97-yard touchdown pass from North Carolina quarterback T.J. Yates to Jheranie Boyd gave the Tar Heels a spark. After another touchdown in the final three minutes, North Carolina recovered an on-side kick and a fumble in LSU territory. Two Yates passes into the endzone in the final seconds fell incomplete.
LSU quarterback Jordan Jefferson finished 15-of-21 passing for 151 yards and two touchdowns in the first half. He was intercepted in the final seconds of the first half and sacked only once.
Tigers running back Stevan Ridley led the Tigers with 81 yards rushing on 19 carries, but fumbled twice in key situations. Shepard added 67 yards with a 50-yard touchdown run on an end-around. Randle led the Tigers with 71 receiving yards on four catches. Tight end Mitch Joseph added three catches for 41 yards.
As the Tigers worked the clock in the second half, LSU outgained North Carolina on the ground, 162-24.
For North Carolina, Yates finished 28-of-46 passing for 412 yards including catches of 75 and 97 yards by Boyd.
Tar Heels running back Anthony Elzy had 46 yards on 14 carries while Johnny White added 29 yards on eight attempts.
With the two long catches, Boyd finished with 221 yards receiving on six catches with a touchdown.
Peterson electrified the crowd and was nearly unstoppable in the return game, breaking the school record for combined return yards. His 87-yard punt return was the dagger in the Tigers' 23-0 run in 5:38 late in the first half.
Shepard scored the game's first touchdown on a 6-yard reception from Jefferson, then gave LSU the lead for good with a 50-yard touchdown run on an end-around the left side.
LSU received a safety when a high snap sailed over Yates' head and through the back of the endzone. The Tigers led 16-0 with 7:14 to play in the half.
Jefferson then connected with receiver Rueben Randle for a 51-yard touchdown.
The Tigers were handed a golden opportunity only 20 seconds in the contest, as LSU defensive end Kendrick Adams stripped the ball out of North Carolina tailback Johnny White's hands on the game's second play. LSU safety Brandon Taylor picked up the loose ball at the Tar Heels' 35-yard line.
Ridley ran twice for eight yards to setup third-and-2 at the 27. However, Jefferson's short pass to Shepard was dropped. Jasper's 44-yard field goal attempt slipped just outside the right upright and the game remained scoreless with 13:36 to play in the opening quarter.
On North Carolina's second play of the ensuing drive, Yates fumbled the snap and LSU freshman linebacker Lamin Barrow pulled the ball out of the pile.
The Tigers took over at the Tar Heels 30-yard line and scored the game's first touchdown, a 6-yard pass from Jefferson to Shepard on third-and-goal.
Jasper's point after touchdown gave the Tigers a 7-0 lead with 8:57 left in the opening quarter.
North Carolina took advantage of two personal fouls called against LSU, including a roughing the punter which extended the drive. The Tar Heels tied the game with a 9-yard pass from Yates to fullback Devon Ramsey with 13:49 left in the first half.
After a 42-yard kickoff return by Peterson, LSU advanced into North Carolina territory but the drive stalled at the 39. Jasper's pooch punt barely crept into the endzone for a touchback.
Yates connected with Boyd for 75 yards across the middle to give the Tar Heels a first-and-goal at the LSU 5. However, the Tigers defense stiffened and held North Carolina to a 20-yard Casey Barth field goal. With 8:24 to play in the half, UNC led 10-7.
A Peterson return of 47 yards again put the Tigers at midfield, where Shepard lined up as a receiver on the right side and took a handoff from Jefferson, made a cut up the field and outran the defense to the goalline. The score gave LSU a 14-10 lead and started the 23-0 run in the next six minutes.
North Carolina kickoff returner Hunter Furr fumbled the ensuing kickoff in the endzone but decided to advance the ball. He was stopped at the 4-yard line by LSU's Barkevious Mingo.
On third-and-6 from the 8, a shotgun snap sailed over Yates' head and through the back of the endzone for a safety and a 16-10 Tigers lead.
LSU was unable to take advantage in UNC territory, as running back Richard Murphy fumbled near midfield.
However, after a three-and-out by North Carolina that included a sack by Drake Nevis, Peterson again gave the Tigers life with an 87-yard touchdown return. LSU led 23-10 with 4:01 left in the half.
And, Peterson wasn't done in the half.
He returned a punt 37 yards to the LSU 49-yard line to setup a 51-yard touchdown from Jefferson to Randle on the next play.
LSU led 30-10 at the half
LSU outgained North Carolina, 195-150, in the half. Peterson (244) outgained both teams with his return yards.
The first 30 minutes was the most productive half since LSU's most recent visit to the Georgia Dome, a 35-point beatdown of the ACC's Georgia Tech in the 2008 Chick-fil-A Bowl.
A scoreless third quarter seemed to lull the Tigers to sleep on both sides of the ball, as LSU outgained North Carolina, 52-46.
North Carolina found new life in the fourth quarter, scoring touchdown passes of 97 and 14 yards to cut the deficit to 30-23 with 2:32 to play.
After recovering an on-side kick with 2:31 to play, North Carolina faced a fourth-and-4 from the LSU 42. LSU true freshman Tyrann Mathieu came on a corner blitz and knocked the ball from Yates' hands. Mingo picked up the fumble at the North Carolina 39.
After two runs by Ridley and two Carolina timeouts, he picked up first-down yardage but had the ball jarred loose by defensive back Tre Boston into the hands of linebacker Quan Sturdivant.
With 1:08 remaining and no timeouts, Yates guided the Tar Heels to the LSU 6-yard line but had two pass attempts fall incomplete in the final six seconds. His final attempt slipped through the grasp of Pianalto just inside the goalline.
LSU returns to action on Saturday, Sept. 11, when the Tigers travel to Nashville to face Vanderbilt at 6 p.m. CT on ESPNU.
(Report courtesy lsusports.net)