BATON ROUGE, La. -- LSU backup quarterback Danny Etling made his debut with the 21st-ranked Tigers count.
Replacing struggling starter Brandon Harris on LSU's third possession, Etling opened with three straight scoring drives, and the Tigers pulled away for a 34-13 victory over Jacksonville State on Saturday night.
Etling, a transfer from Purdue, completed six of his first eight passes for 100 yards, including a 46-yard scoring strike to tight end DeSean Smith to cap the quarterback's first drive. Etling also had a 2 yard TD run.
His performance could make him LSU's starter when the Tigers (1-1) open their Southeastern Conference slate at home against Mississippi State next Saturday. LSU coach Les Miles might not have much choice, considering how anemic LSU's offense looks with Harris under center, not just against JSU, but also in a 16-14 upset against fifth-ranked Wisconsin a week earlier.
LSU opened the game with 12 total yards and no first downs on its first two offensive series before Miles made the QB change.
The Tiger Stadium crowd came alive with Etling took the field for the first time. It was a full-on eruption when Etling's long scoring pass hit Smith in stride down the left sideline, giving LSU a 6-3 lead.
Etling's performance was not entirely unblemished. All six of his second-half passes were incomplete. He was intercepted by Reggie Hall on a long pass intended for Malachi Dupre in the end zone and later lost a fumble when he was sacked and stripped by Darius Jackson.
Leonard Fournette did not play, getting the night off to rest his left ankle, which took a hard hit at the end of LSU's season opener. Miles has said Fournette is not seriously injured.
Derrius Guice started for Fournette and rushed for 155 yards rushing, including a 4-yard TD and a 44-yard run to set up another LSU score.
A 2-yard touchdown run by Bry'Kiethon Mouton capped Etling's third series. Tre-Davious the closed LSU's' 27-point second quarter with a 60-yard punt return on which he retreated 20 yards to his own 20 before finding his way back up field for the score.
Dual threat QB Eli Jenkins was once again productive for Jacksonville State (1-1), which entered the game ranked fifth nationally among teams in the NCAA's second-tier Football Championship. He passed for 248 yards, including a 76-yard scoring pass to Krenwick Sanders, and rushed for 82 yards. JSU fields several transfers from top-tier Football Bowl Subdivision programs, including former LSU receiver Kevin Spears, who caught two passes for 51 yards.
Jacksonville State: Jenkins has the ability to put up big numbers on any defense, meaning his FCS-level opponents will have their hands full. Jenkins is easily on pace to eclipse the 10,000-yard mark in career total yards by the end of this season. He entered the game already holding the JSU record for total yards with 8,688.
LSU: Barring an injury to Etling, Harris' next snaps might come in mop-up duty. His numbers through his first two starts this season are 13 of 25 (52 percent) for 139 yards, one TD and two interceptions. He completed one of four passes for 8 yards against JSU.
Jacksonville State: The Gamecocks return home play Coastal Carolina -- an opponent in transition to the top tier FBS -- on Sept. 17.
LSU: The Tigers open SEC play at home against Mississippi State on Sept. 17.
AP college football website: collegefootball.ap.org