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Furman Falls To 12th-Ranked Michigan State, 28-13

Jaylan Reid
Jaylan Reid
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EAST LANSING, MICH. -- FBS 12th-ranked and reigning Big Ten Conference champion Michigan State needed three Tyler O'Connor touchdown passes, the second coming with just under five minutes remaining, to turn back a gritty Furman squad, 28-13, in the 2016 season opener for both teams Friday evening at Spartan Stadium.

Michigan State (1-0), coming off a 12-2, FBS playoff semifinal finish a year ago, was paced by O'Connor, who completed 13-of-18 passes for 190 yards, but the redshirt senior quarterback was sacked twice and picked off once by Furman (0-1), which got 83 rushing yards from freshman running back Darius Morehead in his collegiate starting debut

LJ. Scott ran for 105 yards and a touchdown, helping the Spartans grab a 7-0 lead four minutes into the contest.

Michigan State upped its lead to 14-0 on a 13-yard scoring strike from O'Connor to Felton Davis late in the second period.

Furman responded with its best drive of the first half, covering 72 yards in 13 plays to Michigan State 3-yard line before having to settle for a Jon Croft Hollingsworh 20-yard field goal with just 15 seconds to go in the half.

The Paladins cut the Spartans' advantage to 14-6 midway through the third period on Hollingsworth's second field goal of the contest, a 23-yard effort set up by an Aquill Annoor fumble recovery at the Michigan State 35.

The two teams then traded scores, Michigan State tallying on a 21-yard O'Connor strike to Josiah Price and Furman answering with an Antonio Wilcox 6-yard scoring run around left end to end an 11-play, 73-yard drive with 13:37 remaining in the game.

On the ensuing possession, Furman linebacker Byron Johnson stepped in front of a O'Connor pass to give the Paladins the ball at the Spartan 44, but Furman quickly gave it back when Andrew Dowell picked off a pass by Paladin quarterback  P. J. Blazejowski at the MSU 40 on the next play.  From there Michigan State covered 60 yards in 12 plays to put the game away with a 12-yard O'Connor touchdown pass to Jamal Lyles with 4:55 to go.

Michigan State forged a 361-226 advantage in total offense.

Blazejowski completed 15-of-30 passes for 130 yards.

Paladin preseason All-America safety Trey Robinson led all tacklers with 13 stops.