BATON ROUGE, La. — For Cal State Fullerton, it was a rare evening of football in the big-time.
For sixth-ranked Louisiana State and the crowd of 73,452 here, it was a satisfactory enough diversion.
LSU (2-0) scored on every possession but two--one ended in a fumble and the other with the end of the game--in defeating the Titans, 56-12, Saturday night in Tiger Stadium, an edifice so cavernous that 1,500 students are housed in dormitory roomswithin its walls.
Pity Matt DeFrank, the Tiger punter. He didn't get any work at all.
But on a night when the Titans (0-2) could have set all manner of negative records, their only record was a positive one.
Stan Lambert, a transfer from Long Beach City College who had never attempted a field goal in a Fullerton uniform, kicked a school-record four, including one from 49 yards.
And for its willingness to play a team way over its head, Fullerton also came home $200,000 richer, courtesy of the home team.
"I hadn't kicked the ball that well in years," said Lambert, who scored all of Fullerton's points. "It means a lot to prove to yourself and your team that you can kick that well."
Fullerton's offensive performance was a marked improvement over last week, when the Titans advanced no further than the opponent's 39-yard line in a 44-0 loss to Hawaii. This week, they got as far as the LSU 14-yard line, and LSU kept its starting defense in the game as late as the third quarter.
Fullerton quarterback Ronnie Barber completed 18 of 30 passes for 119 yards. Running backs Tracey Pierce and William Robinson combined for 70 yards rushing and caught five passes each.
"Our offense was really good," Barber said. "Last week we had tough times. We just wanted to get better."
After managing just 100 yards total offense last week, Fullerton finished with 289 yards.
LSU's Tom Hodson passed for 230 yards and three touchdowns, completing 11 of 13 passes. Wendell Davis, the Tigers' second-team All-American wide receiver, caught 8 passes for 151 yards and one touchdown.
LSU's objective was to score quickly and often, which it did. The Tigers' longest scoring drive was 4:04; its shortest covered 74 yards in 21 seconds.
Fullerton wanted to control the ball, eating up time in an effort to keep the score down. As part of that effort, Murphy had Barber start the plays as close to the end of the 25-second limit as possible, resulting in one Fullerton possession of 7:21.
At the start, it looked as if the game might become a route of the magnitude predicted on the marquee of a local car dealership: 84-0.
With just 2:24 gone, Hodson connected with Brian Kinchen for a 37-yard touchdown. Fullerton was forced to punt on its first possession after just three plays,and three minutes later, Victor Jones scored from the one-yard line, ending a scoring drive keyed by a 19-yard run by Alvin Lee on a reverse. Less than five minutes into the game, it was 14-0.
But on the strength of two scrambling runs by Barber--13 and 11 yards--and Robinson's 14-yard reception and 16-yard run, Fullerton drove to the LSU 25-yard line, setting up Lambert's 41-yard field goal, giving the Titans their first points of the season.
From that point on, it seemed as if the teams were playing under a tacit agreement in the first half. On each possession, LSU would get its touchdown, and Fullerton a field goal, but no more.
Lambert added field goals of 31, 41 and 49 yards, the final one coming with no time remaining in the half.
LSU's permissiveness ended when the second half began. Fullerton was forced to punt on its first possession, and did not score again.
For Fullerton, it was, well, an experience.
The day probably will not come when gubernatorial candidates offer free jambalaya and beer--as one did here--outside Santa Ana Stadium, Fullerton's home field.
"I told our freshmen to get a good look at the stands," Murphy said. "They saw more people tonight than they will in the next four years at Santa Ana Bowl . . . But it was good for us to come away thinking, 'Hey, we hung in there with these guys.' It was a good news, bad news situation."