BATON ROUGE, LA. -- Reggie Thomas' 74-yard interception return keyed a solid Furman first half, but 12th-ranked LSU turned the tables over the final two periods on the way to a 48-16 win over the Paladins in front of 92,554 fans Saturday evening at Tiger Stadium.
Thomas' interception of a Zach Mettenberger pass and 74-yard sprint down the Furman sideline staked the Paladins to an early 7-0 lead.
After LSU tied it with a Jeremy Hill 55-yard touchdown run, Furman placekicker Ray Early delivered his first of three first half field goals with a 46-yard effort to put the Paladins ahead 10-7.
The Tigers answered with scores on their next two possession to go up 20-10, but Early and Furman finished the half in solid fashion with field goals covering 31 and 23 yards.
The Paladins missed out on a chance to tie the game just before intermission after long snapper Danny LaMontagne pounced on a fumbled punt return by LSU's Odell Beckham at the Tiger 28 with 1:57 remaining. A Reese Hannon 13-yard pass to Andrej Suttles to the 15 was followed by a 14-yard burst by Hank McCloud, who was tackled a foot from the goal line. McCloud was stopped short on first and goal, and the Paladins, rushing to get off a play with no timeouts remaining, were penalized for a false start on second down. Hannon's third down pass fell incomplete with five seconds on the clock, and Early was called on for the 23-yard field goal that sliced LSU's lead to 20-16.
The second half was dominated by LSU, which took control with a 1-yard touchdown plunge by Terrence Magee and 7-yard scoring strike from Mettenberger to Melvin Jones.
The Tigers tacked on a pair of fourth quarter touchdowns — the first on a Magee 39-yard sprint around left end, and the second on Beckham's second scoring connection with Mettenberger that covered 63 yards.
The Tigers finished the contest with 672 total yards, rolling up 332 yards rushing and 335 yards through the air.
Furman finished with 198 total yards, but managed just 49 over the game's final two periods.
Hill and Magee rushed for 143 and 108 yards, respectively, and scored two touchdowns apiece.
Mettenberger completed 16-of-24 passes for 328 yards and three touchdowns, but he was intercepted twice. His favorite target was Beckham, who collected six catches for 204 yards and two touchdowns.
Reese Hannon completed 16-of-28 passes for 104 yards for Furman, which got a solid running effort from Hank McCloud, who tallied 16 rushes for 79 yards.
The Paladins won the turnovers ball, tallying three takewaways while suffering just one turnover, an interception.
Greg Worthy paced Furman defensively with 11 tackles and a pass deflection.
The Paladins play at Georgia Southern next Saturday.