Baton Rouge, La. —The Tigers struggled against in state UL-Monroe but Freshman receiver Malik Nabers had a career-high receiving yards and a touchdown as LSU downed Louisiana-Monroe 27-14 Saturday night.
Snapping a three-game losing streak, LSU (5-6, 2-5 SEC) continued to struggle offensively, scoring only 17 points well into the third quarter against the nation’s 115th-ranked scoring defense in ULM (4-7, 2-5 Sun Belt).
Max Johnson completed 22-of-33 passes for 319 yards and two touchdowns in his return as the starter.
“Very pleased with the win,” LSU coach Ed Orgeron said. “Did we play great? No. Did we make some mistakes? Yes, but we won the game. I’m happy for the boys.
“It was good to finally be back at home and playing at night. Our guys were energized. I’m very pleased with how we played defensively. We came out and scored on the first drive offensively, but once again stalled in the red zone.”
Johnson got the Tigers started by connecting with Nabers on passes of 7 and 48 yards on a five-play, 64 yard drive that culminated in a 3-yard touchdown run by Johnson to make it a 7-0 LSU.
Up 10-0 after a 27-yard field goal by Cade York, Johnson hit Nabers on a slant that turned into a 67-yard touchdown score to extend the lead to 17-0 for LSU.
A fake punt that was intercepted by ULM and returned deep into LSU territory was followed by a 25-yard touchdown catch by Boogie Knight that kept the Warhawks in a close 17-7 halftime deficit.
Bad decisions and poor execution on the field have been the achilles heal for the Tigers this season and it kept ULM around for a minute in the game.
The defense was stout all night as the Tigers only allowed one drive to develop through three quarters. Linebacker Damone Clark was a tackling machine, putting constant pressure on the quarterback as the defense unit would combine for five tackles for a loss and one pick by Jay Ward. Another highlight for defensive unit was stopping ULM at the goal line twice in the first and fourth quarters.
Johnson hooked up with freshman Brian Thomas from 42 yards out late in the third quarter and, after Chandler Rogers hit Zach Rasmussen for a 27-yard touchdown that pulled the Warhawks to 24-14, York kicked a 50-yard field goal with 46 seconds left in the game to seal it.
Three of LSU’s five most-productive receivers are freshmen — Jack Bech, Thomas, and Nabers. Bech finished with five catches for 46 yards.
After only playing two series last week against Arkansas, Johnson took every offensive snap against the Warhawks.
LSU: With the victory the Tigers keep their bowl chances alive. LSU must defeat Texas A&M next week in order to finish the regular season with a 6-6 mark. They haven’t had a losing season since a 3-8 finish in 1999.
Louisiana-Monroe: Travels to Louisiana-Lafayette on Nov. 27
LSU: Hosts Texas A&M on Nov. 27