Furman fades against No. 13 LSU, 48-16

Bursting through the line of scrimmage, Hank McCloud churned his

legs violently while being pulled down, lunging forward and

slamming the ball down at the 1-yard line.

That’s how close he was to pulling Furman into a shocking

halftime tie with No. 13 LSU in Death Valley on Saturday night.

Instead, the Paladins settled for a short field goal by Ray

Early and all hopes of a shocking upset were put to rest in the

second half, when LSU pulled away to win 48-16.

Furman (3-5) was seeking its first victory over a Southeastern

Conference school in 50 years and got off to a promising start.

Reggie Thomas’s 74-yard interception return of Zach Mettenberger’s

pass gave the Paladins a 7-0 lead.

”I think the receiver fell and I jumped the route and was able

to take the ball to the house,” Thomas said.

Tied 7-7 after a 55-yard touchdown run by Jeremy Hill, the first

of Early’s three field goals gave Furman a brief 10-7 lead.

However, only four plays later, Hill’s second touchdown of the

game, this time from 4 yards out would give LSU the lead for good

at 13-10.

”We were able to get a couple of turnovers and we got the score

off the interception,” Paladins coach Bruce Fowler said. ”The

biggest thing was we were able to control the ball in the first

half. That helped us because we had trouble stopping them because

they were scoring quickly. We battled pretty hard. Offensively we

were able to move the ball and keep the clock running. I just wish

we were able to score that touchdown at the end of the first half

to tie the game up.”

Trailing 20-13 with four minutes in the first half, Furman’s

drive stalled near midfield, but a muffed punt return by Odell

Beckham gave the Paladins the ball at the LSU 28-yard line. Reese

Hannon found Andrej Suttles for 13 yards and McCloud’s 14-yard rush

gave Furman the ball at the 1-yard line, but with no timeouts and

1:19 left. After McCloud was stuffed at the 1-yard line, a Furman

false start-requiring a 10-second runoff – left the Paladins time

for one incomplete pass before settling for Early’s field goal on

third-and-goal.

”I don’t know if the touchdown would have changed the game that

much because we would have just been tied. We still had to manage

the second half. Everybody knew that,” Fowler said. ”It would

have been nice to execute in that hurry-up situation down there a

little bit better.”

Furman had trouble stopping several LSU stars, including

receiver Odell Beckham Jr., who caught six passes for 204 yards and

two scores. Terrence Magee added two second-half touchdowns,

including one from 39 yards out. Hill finished with 143 yards

rushing for LSU (7-2).

Finishing the game with 79 yards on 16 carries, McCloud said the

momentum lost at the end of the first half played a big role in the

Paladins’ performance in the second half.

”I saw the cutback lane early and thought I was going to be

able to take it in,” he said. ”I just got nicked before I was

able to get it into the end zone. We didn’t have any timeouts and

were rushing on that last drive and we had to rush some things. We

didn’t get the touchdown we wanted and we just came out flat in the

second half. That’s not good.”

Going up against a much bigger LSU squad on both sides of the

line of scrimmage, Fowler said his squad had no answer for the LSU

offense in the second half, giving up 28 unanswered points and 672

yards of total offense for the game.

”In the second half physically they were just able to take over

the game with their offense,” Fowler said. ”We just had trouble

stopping the run and when you mix in the pass that is an offense

that is hard to stop. We just got kind of run down. LSU was also

pushing the tempo and they got going quickly. We had trouble with

that.

”They are big and have a very big and physical offensive line.

They are just big everywhere and after a while it just wore us

down.”