On this day in 1999, Kim Helton and the Houston Cougars beat LSU at Tiger Stadium, 20-7. The win assured UH of their second winning season in Helton’s 7 years.
The game did not start well for the Cougars. LSU drove 84 yards for a touchdown on their opening possession. Rondell Mealey finished it off with a 34-yard TD run. It was 7-0 Tigers and the sleepy, sparse crowd started to wake up.
But that would be all of LSU’s excitement for the night: for the rest of the game, the Cougars kept the LSU rushing attack in check: after the first series, LSU ran for -12 yards total. UH dared LSU starting QB Josh Booty to throw it while keeping everything in front of them.
Jason McKinley led the Cougar offense on three-straight scoring drives in the first half – perhaps the best sequence of the ’99 season (and maybe the entire Helton regime). In those three drives, McKinley went 9/11 for 117 yards and a score.
Perhaps as importantly, the three scoring drives took 14:32 off the clock and gave the Cougars a 17-7 halftime lead. And it made LSU head coach Gerry DiNardo panic: the Tigers threw it almost nonstop in the second half with very little success thanks to Dick Bumpas’ 4-2-5 defense.
The Cougar defense dominated that second half starting with Adriano Belli forcing a Booty fumble on the opening drive. LSU went 3-and-out on the next three drives for a total of -6 yards. The stadium emptied out as the game flipped to the 4th quarter.
LSU managed a four-and-out to start the 4th then threw three-straight interceptions. Booty committed the first (his 3rd turnover) before DiNardo pulled him for sophomore Rohan Davey. The Coogs teed off on Davey – in his 13 snaps, Davey was sacked 4 times and intercepted twice.
In the second half, Helton and OC Les Koenning were content to sit on their lead and run clock. Ketric Sanford finished the game with 105 yards and a score while “Big Back” Mike Green added 64 yards. Sanford converted seven crucial first downs as UH managed to control the clock for over 37 minutes in the game.
In the locker room after the game, Gerry DiNardo was fired by LSU as the Tigers turned their sights to Nick Saban. Kim Helton would last 8 more days as the UH head coach before being dismissed by Chet Gladchuk.
Houston / LSU Box Score
|NET YARDS RUSHING||172||31|
|Average Per Rush||3.4||1.8|
|Yards Gained Rushing||178||63|
|Yards Lost Rushing||6||32|
|NET YARDS PASSING||203||296|
|Average Per Attempt||7.5||6.9|
|Average Per Completion||10.7||12.3|
|TOTAL OFFENSE YARDS||375||327|
|Total offense plays||77||60|
|Average Gain Per Play||4.9||5.4|
|Average Yards Per Punt||47.6||40.9|
|Net Yards Per Punt||37.6||33.1|
|Average Yards Per Kickoff||63.4||65.0|
|Net Yards Per Kickoff||52.4||65.0|
|Punt returns: Number-Yards-TD||4-54-0||2-20-0|
|Average Per Return||13.5||10.0|
|Kickoff returns: Number-Yds-TD||0-0-0||2-55-0|
|Average Per Return||0.0||27.5|
|Fumble Returns: Number-Yds-TD||0-0-0||0-0-0|
|Third-Down Conversions||8 of 19||2 of 11|
|Fourth-Down Conversions||0 of 1||0 of 2|
|Sacks By: Number-Yards||4-23||2-1|
|Points off turnovers||0||0|