It might not have been the dominant performance fans wanted but the Michigan State Spartans started the season 1-0 thanks to a victory over the Furman Paladins.
MSU led for the entire contest even though the score was closer than expected. Running Back LJ Scott opened up the scoring with a one-yard touchdown run at 11:23 of the first quarter, and wide receiver Felton Davis III doubled the home team’s lead with a 13-yard touchdown pass from Tyler O’Connor late in the second quarter.
Furman looked to pull to within a touchdown just before the break, but stalled out just short of the goal line and settled for a field goal to go into halftime down 14-3.
The Paladins added another field goal in the third quarter but the team’s hopes of a shocking upset were dashed when Josiah Prince hauled in a 21-yard strike at 4:26 of the third quarter to make it 21-6.
At that point the win seemed secure. Furman continued to hang on though thanks to a six-yard touchdown run from Antonio Wilcox that brought it to 21-13.
The visitors from South Carolina definitely hung around longer than Michigan State fans would like, and at one point in the third quarter had run 19 plays to the home team’s one.
Spartans fans didn’t get to exhale until O’Connor added a third passing touchdown, this time to Jamal Lyles, for a 12-yard strike that put his team up 28-13 in the process.
O’Connor finished a strong 13 of 18 passing for 190 yards, three touchdowns and one interception. On the ground, LJ Scott inched over the 100 yard mark with 105 yards and one score.
Ugly as it was, MSU never really looked in danger of losing and slowly put away its FCS foe as the night wore on.
With the warm-up game out of the way, MSU gets a week off before heading to South Bend to face the Notre Dame Fighting Irish. There will be no room for error when the two top 15 programs face off Sept. 17.