Record-Courier staff report
BATON ROUGE, La. -- No, Kent State didn't come close to pulling off a mind-blowing upset at No. 8 LSU like backyard rival Akron nearly did at Michigan.
No, Golden Flashes senior speedster Dri Archer did not make it out of the first quarter for the first time this season.
No, KSU did not roll over and die.
After falling behind 21-0 out of the gate, the Flashes hung tough and had their moments before crumbling in the fourth quarter and falling 45-13 to the national powerhouse Tigers (3-0) before 89,113 fans in Death Valley.
Kent State (1-2) actually outscored LSU 13-10 over the second and third quarters before the Tigers tacked on a pair of touchdowns in the final quarter to win going away.
"It is a loss, but LSU is a very good football team," said KSU first-year head coach Paul Haynes. "Our guys fought. We talked at halftime and said we were going to keep grinding and keep fighting, and we did that. This is a difficult atmosphere with one of the top five programs in the country, and our guys still battled and fought like crazy."
The final numbers were one-sided, as expected.
LSU senior quarterback Zach Mettenberger completed 13-of-18 passes for 264 yards and three scores, while running backs Jeremy Hill (11 carries, 117 yards, 2 TDs) and Terrence Magee (9-108, 1 TD) each eclipsed 100 yards on the ground. The Tigers piled up 571 total yards compared to 248 for the Flashes, who managed just 58 yards rushing on 32 carries, while coughing up 307 yards in 37 totes to LSU.
But Kent State redshirt freshman quarterback Colin Reardon continued to show signs that he's a budding star, completing 20-of-29 passes for 190 yards and adding a 2-yard TD run -- the first of his college career. He has now thrown 85 passes during his young KSU career without an interception.
"Each week Colin is continuing to get better," said Haynes. "Our offensive line is also starting to get better. They are starting to jell as a group up front, so we are protecting Colin a lot better, and more and more guys around him are making plays."
Archer started against LSU after missing last week's loss to Bowling Green due to a left ankle injury suffered in the first quarter of the season opener against Liberty, but left the game after catching a seven-yard pass from Reardon in the first quarter. After the play, he was spotted on the sideline flexing his leg while visibly in pain and never returned to action.
After producing over 2,650 all-purpose yards and scoring a school-record 23 touchdowns last season, Archer has rushed three times for 10 yards and caught one pass for seven yards through the first three games of the 2013 campaign.
The Tigers put the Flashes away quickly.
Hill exploded for a 58-yard touchdown run to cap the game's opening drive, then added a 12-yard scoring run later in the quarter to highlight a big day for the LSU running back. Mettenberger added touchdown passes to Jarvis Landry of 21 yards in the first quarter and 31 yards in the second quarter.
After spotting LSU its 21-0 lead, Kent State found a spark on offense, using the 2-yard touchdown run by Reardon and 37- and 36-yard field goals by former Aurora star Anthony Melchiori to outscore the Tigers 13-10 during the second and third quarters.
Reardon led the Flashes on a nine-play, 75-yard march that closed with the first touchdown run of his career with 12:59 to play before halftime.
Ten different Kent State players caught passes from Reardon, including Josh Boyle, who led the Flashes with 53 yards on three receptions.
LSU (3-0) finished strong, adding to its lead in the fourth quarter on a 5-yard touchdown pass from Mettenberger to Odell Beckham and a 12-yard scoring run by Magee.
The Flashes go back on the road in the next two weeks with games at Penn State on Saturday and at Western Michigan on Sept. 28.
"It's not going to get any easier," said Haynes. "We have to go on the road against another good football team next week. But our guys are still hungry and we can still reach every goal we wanted to accomplish this season. I love this locker room and I love this team. We will continue to get better, and I am excited about the future."