Sep 26, 2015 5:41 PM
No. 8 LSU holds off Syracuse 34-24
The Associated Press
SYRACUSE, N.Y. (AP) Leonard Fournette posed for a photo with former Syracuse great Floyd Little after leading LSU to another victory, a fitting end to another stellar day for the Heisman Trophy hopeful.
Fournette ran for a career-high 244 yards and two touchdowns, Tre'Davious White returned a punt 69 yards for another score, and No. 8 LSU held off fired-up Syracuse 34-24 on Saturday.
"He told me I did a great job," Fournette said of Little, a three-time All-American at Syracuse in the mid-1960s. My job is to make one man miss, and that's what I did."
It was the second straight 200-yard game and fifth straight 100-yard game for Fournette, and it was a fitting place for him to shine again.
Syracuse's tradition is based on its stellar running backs from the past, the great Jim Brown, Heisman Trophy winner Ernie Davis and Little, among them. The Carrier Dome field is named in honor of Davis, the first black player to win the coveted trophy (1961).
Fournette gained 48 yards to set up his 14-yard scoring run in the first quarter, breaking alone into the secondary after quarterback Brandon Harris flipped him the ball at the last second on a scramble.
"I was blocking, it was second-and-long, and when he was going down I said, 'Brandon, Brandon,' and he tossed me the ball," Fournette said. "I almost dropped it. I just wanted to put our team in a good situation."
He did, and then added a 62-yard TD run that gave LSU a 24-10 lead late in the third quarter.
Fournette also had an 87-yard scoring run nullified by a false start, but in the end it didn't matter.
"Too many big plays," Syracuse coach Scott Shafer said. "We were just about there. A couple of plays here and there was the difference. We left a lot of plays on the field. We could have beat this team."
Fournette entered the game with six touchdowns, three in each of the Tigers' season-opening victories over Mississippi State and Auburn, and was averaging 193.5 yards rushing per game. He boosted his season total to 621 yards.
White found a seam up the middle and raced untouched into the end zone to give LSU a 17-3 lead in the third.
LSU (3-0), which beat Southeastern Conference rivals Mississippi State and Auburn to start the season, used big plays to hand Syracuse (3-1) its first loss despite being called for 14 penalties for 120 yards.
"We weren't a dominant team today," LSU coach Les Miles said. "We have characteristics of a dominant team, but we didn't dominate this opponent."
No play was bigger than Travin Dural's 51-yard catch on a third-and-5 play in the fourth quarter after the Orange moved within a touchdown. Harris hit Malachi Dupre with an 11-yard TD with 9:14 left to seal it.
Junior college transfer Zack Mahoney, the fifth-string quarterback in preseason, made his first start for the injury-plagued Orange and found his touch late. He brought Syracuse to 17-10 with a play-action 40-yard TD pass over the middle to Brisly Estime at 6:02 of the third and hit Ben Lewis on a 2-yard toss early in the fourth.
That score came after Fournette's long TD run was nullified by a false start. Syracuse took advantage of facemask and pass-interference penalties against the Tigers on the 56-yard drive.
"I feel like I played OK," said Mahoney, who admitted he was nervous at the start. "I missed a lot of open throws in the beginning. It just sucks that we lost."
Mahoney got the start after keying last week's 30-27 overtime victory over Central Michigan with a timely third-down completion in extra time. He finished 16 of 38 for 154 yards and three touchdowns against LSU in a game that did not have a turnover until Mahoney's pass was deflected and intercepted by linebacker Deion Jones midway through the fourth.
Mahoney hit Dontae Strickland for a 5-yard TD strike with 1:53 left, but LSU recovered the onside kick.
Fournette made defenders pay on most of his 26 carries against Syracuse's gang-tackling defense, which entered the game ranked third in the country, allowing under 50 yards a game. He ran over 308-pound defensive lineman John Raymon early in the third quarter two plays before Harris completed a perfectly thrown 42-yard pass down the right side to Malachi Dupre.
AP college football website: collegefootball.ap.org