By Brett Martel/The Associated Press
BATON ROUGE, La. — Patrick Peterson’s remarkable interceptions gave a boost to the star cornerback’s Heisman Trophy credentials and took the pressure off LSU’s inconsistent offense.
Josh Jasper set an LSU single-game record with five field goals, and Peterson had two of the 15th-ranked Tigers’ five interceptions in 29-7 victory over Mississippi State on Saturday night.
Jordan Jefferson rushed for a 16-yard score and Stevan Ridley added a 2-yard touchdown for LSU (3-0, 2-0 SEC).
Fellow cornerback Morris Claiborne also had two interceptions and defensive tackle Drake Nevis had the other when defensive back Tryann Mathieu hit Bulldogs quarterback Tyler Russell as he threw.
Peterson tipped the ball to himself on both of his interceptions. He snagged his second one with one hand as he fell, then held it up while still on the turf to the delight of a crowd that was charged up for LSU’s home opener.
Russell was intercepted three times. Chris Relf, who played the first half and was shaken up on a scramble early in the third quarter, threw the other two.
Vick Ballard’s 2-yard TD run got Mississippi State (1-2, 0-2) as close as 12-7 before LSU pulled away.
Jasper’s field goals were from 44, 32, 51, 37 and 21 yards.
Jefferson came into the game looking to silence a crescendo criticism that rose after he went 8 of 20 for 96 yards a week earlier at Vanderbilt.
Although he moved the Tigers inside the Bulldogs 35 four times in the first half, all four possessions ended in field goals for a 12-0 halftime lead. On the fourth of those drives, the Death Valley crowd booed the LSU offense’s inability to get in the end zone.
Jefferson was mostly conservative with his throws, going 10 of 16 for 97 yards. It was his second straight game with less than 100 yards passing and no touchdowns, but this time he completed more than half of his passes and did not turn the ball over.
He finally got LSU in the end zone with his touchdown run, then stood to face the fans behind the end zone while brushing both hands across his chest as if presenting his No. 9 jersey.
Ridley led all rushers with 78 yards, and Nevis’ interception set up his TD. In all, LSU converted four of its interceptions into 16 points.
Mississippi State coach Dan Mullen went with Chris Relf at quarterback the entire first half. Relf has been more effective scrambling and running the option, which at times looked like a sensible way to counter an LSU pass rush that accounted for 10 sacks in two games.
But Relf was sacked by Mathieu on the Bulldogs’ first drive. When he attempted to throw deep on Mississippi State’s first promising drive, Peterson leapt high in the air to tip the pass to himself, then returned it 46 yards, setting up a field goal.
Later in the first half, Relf’s desperation pass as he was leveled on a linebacker blitz by Kelvin Sheppard floater to Claiborne, setting up another field goal.
During the Bulldogs’ opening drive of the third quarter, Relf walked off the field after his 13-yard scramble ended with an awkward tackle by Karnell Hatcher.
Russell came in for the first time and completed passes of 17 and 19 yards on the next two plays, setting the stage for Mississippi State’s only score.
Russell finished 5 of 10 for 81 yards and Relf was 5 of 8 for 35 yards. Relf also rushed for a team-high 46 yards before he left the game.
Read all about the game in Sunday’s NEMS Daily Journal newspaper.