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Notre Dame stuns LSU 21-17 in Citrus Bowl

January 01, 2018 - 3:43 pm
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By JAMES MORAN | Tiger Rag Associate Editor

ORLANDO, Fla. — Sometimes a guy makes a play so spectacular that all you can do is tip your hat and move on.

LSU led Notre Dame 17-14 in the final minutes of the 2018 Citrus Bowl at Camping World Stadium on Monday afternoon. The Tigers sent their defense on the field to put the victory on ice and clinch a 10-win season in Ed Orgeron’s first full campaign.

That’s not what happened.

Notre Dame quarterback Ian Book went deep down the right sideline and receiver Miles Boykin snared it out of the air with one hand, evaded LSU defensive backs Donte Jackson and John Battle and raced into the end zone for the game-winning 55-yard touchdown as Notre Dame stunned LSU 21-17 in a wild finish.

The stunning conclusion spoiled a fantastic effort from LSU quarterback Danny Etling. The senior quarterback and Derrius Guice connected on a pair of second-half touchdown passes and finishing his final collegiate game 19-for-33 passing with 229 yards and converted a handful of pivotal third downs with his legs.

Swarming defense, stagnant offense and a mixture of brilliant and atrocious special teams play kept the game sloppy and scoreless through the first quarter. DJ Chark cost the Tigers field position by fielding a punt inside his 5-yard line and muffing two others — one LSU was extremely fortunate to get on top of.

LSU got its offense moving in the second quarter with two lengthy drives, but both ended in confounding fashion with nothing to show for it.

Quarterback Danny Etling drove the Tigers inside the Notre Dame 10 yard line to set up first and goal early in the second quarter. Three stuffed runs later, LSU took a false start before going for fourth and goal from the 1-yard line. Connor Culp promptly came on and pushed a 22-yard field goal attempt wide right.

The defense got the ball right back with a quick three-and-out and LSU drove across midfield again. A sack derailed the drive, and this time Jack Gonsoulin missed a 37-yard field goal try wide left. LSU gained 187 yards in the first half but failed to dent the scoreboard.

Notre Dame, sparked by a quarterback change, broke the scoreless stalemate just before halftime. Backup Ian Book scrambled through the LSU defense to convert a third-and-20, eventually setting up Justin Yoon to make a 47-yard field goal and put the Irish ahead at the break.

Perhaps it’s poetic that a special teams gaffe put LSU ahead. A bouncing punt from Zach Von Rosenberg grazed the leg of a Notre Dame blocked and LSU long snapper Blake Ferguson dove on the ball to set LSU up in plus territory.

This time the Tigers capitalized on the field position, caching in on an inside screen pass from Etling to Guice that went for a 20-yard touchdown. Earlier in the game Guice became the fifth player in LSU history to amass 3,000 career rushing yards.

Notre Dame continued to move the football with Book under center, but Greedy Williams picked Book off to end a drive that’d reached LSU territory. His six interceptions this season are the most by an LSU player since Morris Claiborne in 2011.

The Irish creeped closer with another long field goal from Yoon, but LSU responded with another long drive into Notre Dame territory. Etling lowered his shoulder and got popped to convert a critical third down and eventually hooked up with Guice on a 2-yard touchdown, their second of the day.

But Notre Dame wasn’t going down without a fight. Book converted another third and 19 on the ensuing drive and marched the Irish inside the LSU 10-yard line.

Facing third and goal, Book scrambled and found Louisiana native Michael Young in the back of the end zone for the touchdown. Josh Adams bulldozed into the end zone for the two-point conversion to tie the game up with less than eight minutes to play.

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