UAB succumbs to No. 9 LSU's air attack, 56-17
BATON ROUGE, La. (AP)
It didn't take long for UAB to figure out how much of a longshot it would be to post another stunner in Tiger Stadium.
Entering Death Valley for only the second time in program history - and the first time since a last-second, 13-10 victory at LSU in 2000 - the Blazers were unable to slow an LSU passing attack featuring quarterback Zack Mettenberger and receiver Odell Beckham on Saturday night.
The ninth-ranked Tigers (2-0) led 21-0 by the end of the first quarter and rolled to a 56-17 victory which included a 100-yard return of a missed field goal by Beckham.
''They made plays. The loss was tough and it was painful,'' UAB linebacker Jake Ganus said. ''We have a good game plan, but I think we need to execute it better.''
Darren Reaves scored UAB's first touchdown on a 12-yard run in the second quarter.
Receiver Jamarcus Nelson, who had 10 catches for 199 yards in an overtime loss at Troy a week earlier, added a 41-yard touchdown catch from Austin Brown that pulled UAB (0-2) to 35-14 in the second quarter. The Blazers added a field goal as time expired in the half to get as close as 35-17.
But LSU responded with Beckham's third touchdown catch of the game on a 27-yard pass from Mettenberger, who finished with an LSU single-game record five touchdown tosses.
''There was a stretch in that game in the second quarter where we played pretty good football against one of the top programs in the country,'' UAB coach Garrick McGee said. ''The, we came out in the third quarter, we dropped some balls, we made some missed assignments, we didn't compete as hard.
''I learned a couple of things,'' McGee continued. ''No. 1, we need to do better in our offseason. No. 2, that our team is good enough to compete with Conference USA football teams.''
And apparently not close good enough to stay with an elite Southeastern Conference team like LSU, which justified odds makers' decision to list the Tigers as a five-TD favorite.
The most embarrassing moment for UAB came on kicker Ty Long's missed 59-yard field goal attempt.
Beckham told teammates before the play to be ready to block if he was able to run it out. He caught it deep in the end zone, and by the time the Blazers realized it, Beckham was sprinting down the left sideline with blockers in front of him.
''I went right and came back left and there was a huge wall leading to the end zone,'' Beckham said, adding that the Blazers seemed surprised. ''It's something that you don't see a lot often in college football. It's something that you see on a video game.''
UAB's secondary struggled to stay with Beckham and Jarvis Landry, and Mettenberger, more confident under new offensive coordinator Cam Cameron, made them pay.
Mettenberger was 16 of 19 for 282 yards and was not intercepted. Beckham's 136 yards and three TDs receiving were both career highs.
Landry, who had five catches for 71 yards, caught two touchdown passes, leaping and reaching high to snag his 24-yard score. Mettenberger put the ball where only Landry had a chance at it, out of the reach of a defensive back undercutting the route.
The Tigers marched 89 yards in only five plays on their second series, thanks in large part to three catches for 87 yards by Beckham. His 49-yard reception set up his 29-yard score on a hard throw by Mettenberger, who hit his target in stride as two helpless defenders converged.
Beckham started LSU's next drive with a 15-yard run on an end-around and finished it with a 22-yard TD catch.
UAB reserve quarterback Jonathan Perry fumbled near his own 20 early in the second quarter, setting the stage for the return to action of running back Jeremy Hill, who'd been benched for LSU's first game as punishment for an offseason scuffle outside a bar that resulted in his arrest. Hill rushed for a 3-yard TD, which made it 28-0, on his first carry.
''I wanted to get him going,'' Miles said. ''There's a guy that has been away from his team for four months and not really in great shape. If you look at him you can kind of tell.
''We wanted to get his timing and running the ball going.''