LSU Defeats Purdue With Record-Breaking Performance
By Michaelea Neal
Florida Citrus Sports
After four consecutive punts and down 28 points, it felt like now or never for the PurdueBoilermakers with eight minutes left in the first half of the Cheez-It Citrus Bowl.
Purdue quarterback Austin Burton was ready to go for it on fourth-and-one after running it himself to get the Boilermakers in position to move the chains. Purdue set up for a quick snap, but the Louisiana State Tigers called a timeout. Purdue sent out its punting team but tricked the Tigers with a fake punt to keep the drive alive.
The Boilermakers appeared to have found momentum as they continued to move downthe field after giving everything they had to keep the drive alive. Burton completed a 10-yard pass to wide receiver Tyrone Tracy Jr. and an 11-yard pass to tight end Paul Piferi.
Then Burton threw an interception to LSU cornerback Jarrick Bernard-Converse and reality set in.
Soon wide receiver Malik Nabers threw a 45-yard pass to wide receiver Kyren Lacy. Backup quarterback Garrett Nussmeier threw a 10-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Brian Thomas Jr. to extend the Tiger’s lead to 35-0 just before the half.
LSU was dominant from start to finish. The team was down a few players, but it didn’tshow. The Tigers went on to beat the Boilermakers 63-7 and set new Citrus Bowl records for points scored (63), total yards (594), and margin of victory (56).
LSU starting quarterback Jayden Daniels found his groove through the air and completed passes to tight end Mason Taylor and Nabers before running back John Emory Jr. scored the first touchdown for the Tigers.LSU’s offense kept it going when the Tigers returned to the field. Nussmeier came into the game on their third drive, which was the plan all along. He led an eight-play, 67-yard drive that ended in a 9-yard rushing touchdown from running back Noah Cain.
LSU head coach Brian Kelly didn’t immediately know if Nussmeier would continue to play after that drive, but Kelly has committed to an open-minded process that provides Daniels and Nussmeier the opportunity to grow.
“The way the game was kind of trending, he got even more playing time,” Kelly said.“But there’s no quarterback controversy.”
No matter who the quarterback was, the Tigers’ momentum kept growing, and Purduecouldn’t keep up despite their efforts. Quickly in the second quarter, LSU scored another touchdown on a 32-yard pass from Daniels to Taylor, who ran it 24-yards from the catch for the score.
Purdue, who was still trying to find a rhythm, couldn’t move past its 37-yard line due to a sack from defensive end Sai’vion Jones and a false start penalty.
The Tigers’ offense came out firing on all cylinders again. Daniels rushed for 37 yards tomake it first-and-goal for the Tigers. Cain then scored their third rushing touchdown of the game.
Purdue got the ball to start the second half and continued to show effort as it fought for yardage. Running back Devin Mockobee ran physically to try to generate yardage. He had four carries for 19 yards on the opening drive of the second half, but the Boilermakers couldn’t execute enough to score.
“We didn’t execute at a high enough level to win the football game or to even be in it,”Purdue head coach Brian Brohm said. “Effort was there, but execution was not.”
LSU continued to thrive and extended its lead to 42 following the half. The Tigers scored on a trick play pass from Nabers to Daniels.
Purdue, who was searching for anything, brought in quarterback Michael Alaimo. He threw an interception. Purdue went three and out on its next drive. When the Tigers got the ball back, Nabers scored on a 75-yard receiving touchdown. At the end of the 3rd quarter, it was 49-0.
The Boilermakers didn’t give up. To open the 4th quarter, Alaimo completed a touchdown pass to wide receiver TJ Sheffield, and the Boilers avoided the shutout. Yet the Tigers found the endzone again when safety Derrick Davis Jr. ran it in.
Purdue put in quarterback Jack Albers late in the fourth quarter, but after driving theBoilermakers to the 11-yard line, he threw an interception to Quad Wilson. Wilson ran 99 yards down the field to end the game on a pick-six.
Wilson’s pick-six was the longest in Citrus Bowl history and created an emotional winfor the Tigers. Wilson is on the scout team and pushes everyone to go harder and keeps everyone up, Nabers said. The team ran out on the field to celebrate with him, and the penalty was worth it.
“To see him come in this game, probably not thinking that he was going to play in thisgame and make an impact on this game, I’m very proud of how he handled it,” Nabers said.