January 7, 2008

LSU seniors cap off stellar careers

NEW ORLEANS Some guys know how to win.

Make that 56 victories and two BCS titles for the LSU senior class, counting back to the 2003 season when players like quarterback Matt Flynn and defensive end Kirston Pittman joined the program.

It's probably no coincidence that a team with veteran leadership from Jacob Hester and Early Doucet, who both scored touchdowns, didn't crack after falling into an early 10-0 hole in Monday's 38-24 win over Ohio State in the BCS national championship game.

LSU had fought its way out of tough spots all season. There was a comeback victory over Florida involving a winning drive that included two fourth-and-short conversions by Hester, then finished with Hester's punishing TD run on third-and-goal.

There was Flynn's 22-yard pass to Demetrius Byrd that lifted the Tigers over Auburn with only one second remaining.

LSU was down 27-17 at Alabama late in the third quarter before outscoring the Tide 24-7 the rest of the way in yet another comeback victory.

By comparison to those nail-biters, they made this one look easy.

On Monday, Flynn threw for 174 yards and four touchdowns, the third to Doucet, who made one tackler miss and shook off two others to get in from 4 yards, making it 31-10 in the third quarter.

Hester finished with 86 yards and powered his way in for a second-effort touchdown from a yard out in the second quarter.

That score capped a drive that started when senior cornerback Chevis Jackson intercepted Todd Boeckman's pass at the LSU 42 and returned it 34 yards to the Buckeyes 24.

The key play from there was Flynn finding tight end Richard Dickson, who fought his way to the 1.

Then there's Pittman, who played in the Sugar Bowl victory over Oklahoma that helped LSU finish its 2003 season with a BCS title. His sack of Boeckman forced Ohio State, then down 31-17 and trying to stay in the game, into a fourth-and-7 at the LSU 34.

Enter senior linebacker Ali Highsmith, who charged into the backfield on the next play as Boeckman rolled out and pounded the Buckeyes quarterback, jarring the ball loose for a fumble that LSU recovered in Ohio State territory.

Remember defensive tackle Glenn Dorsey, the sure-shot first-round NFL draft choice last spring who instead opted for a senior season in Baton Rouge? His fourth-quarter sack helped thwart another Ohio State drive.

During the past week, LSU coach Les Miles made a point of mentioning how proud he was of his seniors. He said this game was as much about them and the winning tradition they've instilled at LSU as anything else.

They were already the winningest senior class in LSU history before the BCS championship kicked off.

By the time it was over, everyone saw why.

For more coverage of LSU, visit TigerBait.com; for more on Ohio State, visit BuckeyeGrove.com.



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