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Oct 19, 2002

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AP Sports Writer

BATON ROUGE, La. – LSU coach Nick Saban was worried all week about a letdown.

Coming off a big victory over Florida, Saban cautioned his team about the big losses that had beset the Tigers after the few times when they’d beaten the Gators. And for the first half of Saturday night’s game against South Carolina, it appeared that Saban’s fears would come true.

“Coming into this game, we didn’t handle success very well,” Saban said. “But we turned it around in the second half.”

Marcus Randall hit his stride in the third quarter and so did LSU’s defense, as the 14th-ranked Tigers beat the Gamecocks 38-14.

Making his first start at quarterback because of an injury to Matt Mauck, Randall completed 4 of 10 passes for 52 yards and ran five times for another 39 yards and a touchdown to help LSU (6-1, 3-0 SEC) score 25 unanswered points in the third quarter.

“Well, I would say that was a nice third quarter, and one of the best I have ever been around,” Saban said.

Demetrius Hookfin had two interceptions, and the Tigers outgained South Carolina (5-3, 3-2) in yardage 132-1 during the period. LSU held the ball for 10:52.

Mauck is out indefinitely after injuring his right foot in the Tigers’ victory over Florida on Oct. 12.

“I thought that their quarterback, Randall, did a great job,” South Carolina coach Lou Holtz said. “I congratulate that young man. He stepped in and played one heck of a fine football game. He really ran the team well.”


South Carolina QB Corey Jenkins (9) heads up the middle of the LSU defense during first half.



After bumbling through the first half and trailing 14-6, the Tigers scored on their first possession of the second half. The 58-yard drive included three third-down conversions before Randall scored on a 12-yard run. He then hit Michael Clayton for the 2-point conversion, tying the score at 14.

Hookfin intercepted Corey Jenkins’ pass on South Carolina’s next possession, and less than four minutes later, John Corbello kicked his third field goal – a 37-yarder – to give LSU a three-point lead.

With LSU facing fourth-and-7, Corbello apparently kicked his fourth field goal of the game from 44 yards, but the Gamecocks were flagged for roughing the kicker, setting the Tigers up with first down at the South Carolina 13. Shyrone Carey took the handoff and scored to make it 24-14.

Just 15 seconds later, Hookfin latched onto another interception, taking it 10 yards to give LSU a 31-14 lead going into the fourth quarter.

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The LSU Tigers trailed early, but come back to beat the Gamecocks in Baton Rouge.
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“The quarterback floated it up there in the air, and I went and got it,” Hookfin said.

Hookfin had a third interception that he returned for a touchdown, but it was nullified by a penalty.

Domanick Davis closed out the scoring with a 5-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter to make it 38-14.

Randall completed 12 of 23 passes for 183 yards. Davis ran for 113 yards on 26 carries.

“We moved the ball in the first half, but we kept shooting ourselves in the foot and getting penalties,” Randall said. “We straightened things out in the second half.”

South Carolina, which had won four straight, including three SEC games, had little trouble with the Tigers in the first half, and LSU didn’t live up to its ranking of No. in the country in total defense.

After giving up an average of 207.8 yards per game in the first six games, the Tigers allowed South Carolina to gain 212 by halftime, including 139 yards rushing.

LSU, which rushed for only 67 yards in the first half, drew eight penalties for 62 yards before halftime.

Because of the second-half turnaround, LSU ended up outgaining the Gamecocks 414 to 275.

“Coach Saban told us at halftime that we weren’t playing our type of ball,” said LSU cornerback Corey Webster. “We weren’t focusing on the little things.”

Jenkins completed 5 of 12 passes for 62 yards and a touchdown. He was intercepted twice and sacked twice. Jenkins also ran for 41 yards on 15 carries.