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LSU runs away from Furman in second half

The SportsXchange

BATON ROUGE, La. -- It was all in a Saturday night's work -- a season-high 672 yards in total offense, including 204 yards receiving by Odell Beckham Jr. and a combined 251 yards rushing by Jeremy Hill and Terrence Magee in LSU's 48-16 rout of Furman.

But now the really hard work begins.

The 13th-ranked Tigers (7-2) looked sluggish and downright disinterested in the early stages against Furman, a second-tier Football Championship Subdivision team, but they exploded in the second half fot 28 straight points and now have two weeks to rest and prepare for their biggest test of the season against No. 1 and undefeated Alabama on Nov. 9 in Tuscaloosa.

After Zach Mettenberger threw a pick-six on his first offensive series -- a 74-yard return by cornerback Reggie Thomas on a miscommunication with Beckham -- LSU led only 20-16 at halftime. Beckham contributed to the surprisingly tight score by muffing a punt at the end of the half, giving Furman a chip-shot field goal.

But in outscoring Furman 28-0 in the second half, LSU piled up 394 yards and 16 first downs while holding Furman to 49 yards and one first down after intermission.

"We cannot turn the ball over," LSU coach Les Miles said. "It's just that simple. I think on the first (interception) there was some miscommunication on the route, and the quarterback should have gone off him earlier. There are some things we have to eliminate, but eventually we caught speed and played like we're supposed to."

Hill piled up 143 yards on 14 carries, including touchdown runs of 55 and 4 yards in the first quarter, and Magee added 108 yards on seven carries, scoring on a 1-yard burst to open the second half and adding a 39-yard burst to open the fourth quarter.

Miles said he wouldn't be surprised if Magee, who has a quick north-south burst, gets more looks down the stretch.

"I think Terrance Magee is that (inspirational) guy every snap -- all the time," Miles said. "I don't know if other guys didn't play with inspiration, but Terrence Magee is a talented guy and deserves snaps."

Beckham's big night gave him 1,009 yards and eight TDs on 48 catches this season.

With a bye week coming up, LSU can look toward Alabama.

"We're going to meet Sunday and reconcile the game with the players and give them some time off Monday," Miles said. "The key piece will be getting some of those guys who are injured some time off and get them off their feet to allow them to heal."

Furman coach Bruce Fowler said a key sequence came at the end of the half when Beckham dropped the punt at the LSU 28. Hank McCloud ran 14 yards to the LSU 1, but Furman had to settle for a 23-yard field goal by Ray Early -- his third of the half -- instead of tying the score at 20. That sequence was foiled by a false start penalty when the Paladins tried a quick snap.

"In that situation, we've got a bunch of young players and that's the first time they've been in this kind of environment," Fowler said. "I wish we had gotten it in there and executed better in our hurry-up situation."

McCloud said, "It was a big point in the game. We didn't get that touchdown we wanted. We had to come out of halftime and fight, but we came out flat, and that's not good."

The Tigers broke open the game in the third quarter, piling up 11 first downs and 223 yards while holding Furman without a first down and limiting the Paladins to 14 yards in total offense. Furman ran 44 plays to LSU's 24 in the first half and controlled the clock for 22:09 of the first 30 minutes.

Mettenberger might have had a third interception for the second straight game, but he caught a break in the first half when a wide pass was dropped by cornerback Austin Williams. He also threw into double coverage on Beckham's 37-yard scoring catch, but Beckham timed his leap to outjump Thomas and Marcus McMorris.

LSU's normally solid place-kicking was also shaky. Colby Delahoussaye missed his first PAT of the season and also failed on a 31-yard field goal try wide right with 4:07 left in the half.

NOTES: LSU extended its FBS record of consecutive non-conference regular-season victories to 45 straight, dating to 2002. ... This was the second time this year that LSU had two runners break the 100-yard mark in a game. ... The 672 yards in total offense were the third most in school history. LSU rolled up 746 yards against Rice in 1977. ... Beckham is the eighth LSU receiver with a 200-yard receiving game. ... Furman has not beaten an SEC team since 1963.
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