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LSU rallies for 28-24 win over Wisconsin

No. 13 LSU reeled off 21 consecutive points and staged a riveting comeback to defeat 14th-ranked Wisconsin 28-24 on Saturday night in the season-opening Advocare Texas Kickoff at NRG Stadium.

The Tigers (1-0) extended their regular-season non-conference winning streak to 46 games by erasing a 17-point second-half deficit. Wisconsin grabbed a 24-7 lead when running back Corey Clement pounded his way into the end zone with 12:24 remaining in the third quarter. LSU responded by scoring on four consecutive possessions to seize the win.

Fittingly for Les Miles-coached LSU, momentum swung on a trick play. Facing fourth down at their 43-yard line on the drive immediately following the Clement touchdown, linebacker Kendell Beckwith gained five yards on a fake punt to kick start the rally. LSU cashed in with a 30-yard Colby Delahoussaye field goal, added a 47-yard Delahoussaye field goal on their ensuing possession, and then found the end zone twice.

LSU quarterback Anthony Jennings completed on a 36-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver John Diarse with 12:08 remaining, with Jennings and receiver Trey Quinn connecting on the two-point conversion to cut the deficit to 24-21. Diarse broke three tackles en route to the end zone after LSU picked up the Wisconsin (0-1) blitz on third down. After LSU safety Jalen Mills picked off Badgers quarterback Tanner McEvoy, LSU converted.

The Tigers briskly covered 53 yards in three plays, all runs up the gut by running back Kenny Hilliard. The final gash carried Hilliard into the end zone from 28 yards out, pushing LSU in front for the first time and punctuating the vulnerability of the Badgers after they lost a pair of defensive linemen, Konrad Zagzebskiand Warren Herring, to injury.

Hilliard rushed for 110 yards while LSU receiver Travin Duval caught three passes for 151 yards and a touchdown. The Tigers extended their school record of season-opening victories to 12 consecutive games.

Running back Melvin Gordon led the Badgers with 147 yards on 16 carries, just two following the intermission. Wisconsin had its streak of 16 consecutive season-opening victories snapped and fell to 0-3 against LSU all time.

Save for Jennings' 80-yard touchdown pass to Travin Dural that came on a broken play, LSU mustered next to nothing offensively in the first half. The Tigers produced more punts (seven) than first downs (six) prior to intermission and, subtracting the Dural catch-and-run with 4:47 remaining in the first quarter, managed just 56 yards on 29 plays.

The Badgers scuffled, too, but their conversion of an LSU turnover early in the second quarter proved critical, with linebacker Joe Schobert forcing the fumble and free safety Michael Caputo pouncing on the loose ball at the LSU 31. Five plays later, Gordon darted through a gaping hole before diving into the end zone, bumping the Wisconsin lead to 17-7 with 7:36 left in the half via his 14-yard run.

Wisconsin converted its initial possession into a 7-0 lead when motioning receiver Reggie Love took the handoff from McEvoy and scampered around the left end for 45 yards at the 9:05 mark of the first quarter. The Badgers added a 51-yard field goal on the ensuing possession before punting to end their next three drives.

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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