Freshman QB Brandon Harris leads LSU past New Mexico St. 63-7


Well Tiger fans got there wish — After making it clear fans wanted to see more of freshman quarterback Brandon Harris, the stadium erupted in cheers as he took the field.

His skills against New Mexico, elicited roars from Tiger fans the entire game and will inevitably result in Harris getting the start when LSU returns to SEC conference play at No.5 Auburn next week.

“This is what I wanted to come out and do tonight. I feel like we did it as an offensive unit as a team… This is obviously how you want to play.” -Brandon Harris

Harris led LSU to touchdowns on each of his seven series after relieving struggling sophomore Anthony Jennings, and the 17th ranked Tigers overwhelmed New Mexico State 63-7.

“This is obviously how you want to play,” Harris said Saturday night after the win. “That is what I wanted to come out and do tonight. I feel like we did it as an offensive unit and as a team.”

The freshman quarterback was 11 of 14 for 178 yards and three touchdowns — a statistical line that stood in stark contrast to his sophomore counterpart Jennings, whose seven series under center compromised arguably his worst night as a Tiger.

Jennings completed two of five passes for eleven yards and no touchdowns while turning the ball over three times on two interceptions and a fumble.

Naturally Coach Les Miles had high praise for Harris, while adding that Jennings will “have to get better,” but stressed the fact that he still expects LSU to need both quarterbacks and refused to answer when asked who would play next week at Auburn.

Sep 14, 2013; Baton Rouge, LA, USA; LSU Tigers linebacker Kendell Beckwith (52) against the Kent State Golden Flashes during the second half of a game at Tiger Stadium. LSU defeated Kent State 45-13. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

“We’re not going to operate that way,” Miles said. “We’ve kind of always done things in a measured fashion and we’ll go back and look at the film and communicate with our team.”

Harris expressed his conflicting feelings walking on to the fields hearing the crowd cheer him on after just hearing them boo off his teammate, Jennings.

“It shouldn’t be the way it was tonight where we have a our fans boo one of our own,” Harris said. “We all need to support him when he is int there. It hurt me to hear that, and I know you shouldn’t listen to all that but coming from me, I just don’t think it was the appropriate way to handle the situation.”

New Mexico State (2-3) trailed 28-0 before its only scoring play on back up quarterback Andrew Allen’s 79 yard touchdown run. The Aggies’ starting quarterback Tyler Rodgers was 14 of 31 for 86 yards with two interceptions.

“Tyler was under duress all night,” New Mexico State coach Doug Martin said. “That was a hard game for any quarterback to play. At the same time, Tyler’s got to take better care of the ball.”

Despite four turnovers in the first quarter, LSU (4-1) had an early 14-0 lead, thanks in part to a defensive score by sophomore linebacker Kendell Beckwith on a 27 yard interception return of Rodgers’ deflected pass.

Entering second quarter, Harris let LSU’s dominant running game do most of the work. Still, eight of his first nine passes were completions, and three of those went for touchdowns.

The young QB’s most impressive throw came as he scrambled left, hitting fellow freshman Malachi Dupre with a 27 yard schooling strike.

“Brandon came out and showed his ability tonight tonight,” Dupre said. “He and Anthony both possess unique skill sets. It was Brandon’s night.”

”Brandon came out and showed his ability tonight. It was his night.” -Malachi Dupre

Harris’ other TD tosses went for 10 yards to Travin Dural and three yards to fullback Melvin Jones.

Freshman running back Leonard Fournette rushed for 122 yards and two TDs rushing, including a 17 yard run in which he shed tacklers near the line of scrimmage before racing free to his right.

The calls for Harris, who ultimate led the Tigers to victory, built to an ear throbbing roar as fans were obviously still reeling from last week’s first loss of the season to Mississippi State, 34-29.

Harris entered that game with less than five minutes left and led a pair of quick touchdown drives, then put LSU in range for a Hail Mary heave, which if successful, would have completed a miraculous comeback for the Tigers who were trailing 34-10 early in the fourth quarter. However despite Harris’ efforts the Tigers couldn’t pull it off and lost to the Bulldogs for the first time in history at Death Valley.

Since Harris entered the game against Miss. State, he is 17 of 23 for 318 yards and five touchdowns against only one interception, which came from his Hail Marry attempt.

His touchdown runs came from 1 and 2 yards out, but the second run seemed to be the result of improvisation after he bobbled a high shotgun snap. To get to the end zone he bowled his way through a heavy hit.

LSU finished with 363 yards rushing, including Terrence Magee’s first TD of the season on an 11 yard run.

The Tigers’ 63 points tied the highest output by LSU since Miles took over in 2005.