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LSU downs UCF to win Fiesta Bowl

LSU’s Foster Moreau

GLENDALE, Ariz. — No. 11 LSU set a school record with its fourth top-10 victory of the season, handing previously undefeated and seventh-ranked Central Florida a 40-32 defeat in the 2019 PlayStation Fiesta Bowl on Tuesday in Glendale, Ariz.

LSU (10-3) earned its 10th win of the season for the first time since 2013, while UCF (12-1) lost for the first time in 26 games dating to Dec. 17, 2016, in the AutoNation Cure Bowl against Arkansas State.

The Tigers trailed 14-3 following a pick-6 midway through the first quarter but rallied with 21 unanswered points until the final seconds of the second quarter. Following a Ja’Marr Chase early in the third quarter, LSU maintained a double-digit lead throughout the second half. UCF cut its deficit to the final margin with 2:24 to play but failed to get an onside kick and later threw an interception with 20 seconds to play.

Junior quarterback Joe Burrow was named Offensive Player of the Game following a 21-of-34 performance for 394 yards and an LSU bowl-record four touchdowns (tied Matt Flynn, 2007). Burrow’s 394 yards tied the fourth-most in LSU passing history.

Freshman wide receiver Ja’Marr Chase had a game-high six receptions for 93 yards with a touchdown, while Justin Jefferson added four catches for 87 yards with touchdown grabs of 22 and 33 yards. Stephen Sullivan had three catches for 76 yards, and Derrick Dillon had a career-best 86 yards receiving including a 49-yard touchdown.

Running back Nick Brossette became the 13th Tiger to record 1,000 rushing yards in a single season, as the senior had 117 yards on 29 carries.

LSU senior placekicker Cole Tracy – who spent the first three seasons of his career at Division II Assumption College – made all four of his field goal attempts (24, 28, 28, 26) to set the NCAA all-division record with 97 career field goals and the LSU single-season record with 29. He also finished his career with 506 yards, good for 19th in NCAA history.

Defensively, linebacker Patrick Queen led the Tigers with nine tackles with a sack, while linebacker Devin White had eight tackles, a pass breakup and a forced fumble that led to Dillon’s touchdown. Safety JaCoby Stevens iced the game with a last-minute interception while collecting six tackles and a half-sack. Defensive tackle Rashard Lawrence dominated up front, earning Defensive Player of the Game honors with five tackles – four behind the line of scrimmage – with two sacks.

Head coach Ed Orgeron won his second bowl game in three bowl appearances as LSU’s head coach, and improved to 9-0 at LSU following a loss.

Orgeron and his staff helped the Tigers’ defense overcome missing starters and even their backups: all-America Greedy Williams (entry in NFL Draft), starting cornerback Kristian Fulton (injury), starting nose tackle Ed Alexander (entry in NFL Draft), starting defensive end Breiden Fehoko, reserve defensive lineman Neil Farrell Jr. (injury), starting linebacker K’Lavon Chaisson (season-ending injury), reserve defensive end Travez Moore (did not travel), reserve cornerback Kelvin Joseph (suspension). Today’s starting cornerback Terrence Alexander and starting safety, all-American Grant Delpit, were both disqualified from the game, while Jacob Phillips sat out the first half following a targeting penalty in the third overtime of the regular-season finale against Texas A&M.

LSU outgained UCF, 555-250, the Tigers’ fourth-most total offense in a bowl game. The Tigers recorded 32 first downs and held the ball for 44:31, a school record (dating to 1978).

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