CLEMSON, S.C. - Sammy Watkins had a big impact in his 2012 season debut, scoring on a 58-yard touchdown run on his first carry and totaling 119 all-purpose yards as Clemson rolled past Furman 41-7 on Saturday. Watkins caught two passes for 31 yards on Clemson's first scoring drive, then electrified the crowd on the first play of the second quarter by taking a handoff from quarterback Tajh Boyd, sweeping right and outrunning the Furman defense to the right corner of the end zone. The 58-yard run was the longest run of Watkins' career and his first career rushing touchdown. Watkins, a sophomore wide receiver who earned All-American honors as a freshman, missed Clemson's first two games while serving a suspension as punishment for his on-campus arrest for marijuana possession last May. Clemson, ranked 11th, improved to 3-0 heading into next week's Atlantic Coast Conference Atlantic Division showdown at No. 5 Florida State. The Tigers have beaten Furman (0-3) 30 straight times since last losing to the Paladins in 1936. Clemson also has not lost in 41 games against a Southern Conference teams since leaving the league in 1953 to help form the ACC. Furman, an FCS team that lost its first two games by a combined five points, trailed 17-7 late in the first half, but the Tigers put the Paladins away with 17 unanswered points in an eight-minute span. Chandler Catanzaro kicked a 22-yard field goal with 1:21 left in the first half, his school record-tying 14th consecutive field goal, and Andre Ellington scored on a 10-yard run following an interception by linebacker Quandon Christian on Furman's first possession of the second half. After a three-and-out by Furman, Clemson struck quickly again, driving 69 yards in five plays for a 34-7 lead. Boyd was 4-for-4 for 65 yards on the drive, including a 30-yard scoring strike to tight end Brandon Ford. Boyd completed 20-of-29 passes for 310 yards, capping his day with a 39-yard touchdown pass to Martavis Bryant on the second play of the fourth quarter. Boyd's two touchdown passes gave him 43 for his career, pushing him into second place on Clemson's all-time list. He trails Charlie Whitehurst, who had 49. The Tigers came up short in their bid for a school-record third consecutive game with at least 500 yards of offense, finishing with 498 yards. NOTES: Chandler Catanzaro tied a 32-year-old school record when he converted his 14th consecutive field goal. The standard was set by Obed Ariri in 1980. ... Clemson nose guard DeShawn Williams and guard Tyler Shatley sustained first-half injuries and did not return. ... Both teams won national championships in the 1980s, Clemson in 1981 and Furman in Division I-AA in 1988.
- Sammy Watkins