LSU true freshman quarterback TJ Finley of Ponchatoula threw two touchdown passes and ran for another as the Tigers routed South Carolina, 52 to 24 Saturday night at Tiger Stadium.
Finley was making his first college start and taking his first college snaps in place of injured LSU starting quarterback Myles Brennan.
Kentwood high school’s Trey Palmer returned a kickoff 93 yards for a touchdown, the first kickoff return for a TD for LSU at Tiger Stadium in 39 years.
LSU (2-2) was in desperate need of a quality performance, and got one. Finley completed 17 of 21 passes for 265 yards, including scoring strikes of 7 and 51 yards to Terrace Marshall.
Finley led LSU 16 plays, 75 yards on the opening possession of the game. He scored on a one yard sneak.
The 52 points by LSU was a season high. The Tigers won their 12th consecutive night game at Tiger Stadium. LSU is now 12-0 in games following a loss under head coach Ed Orgeron.
LSU had 276 rushing yards, including 135 from Ty Davis-Price and 88 from John Emery. LSU had 541 yards of offense, and 29 first downs.
The LSU defense had 5 quarterback sacks, including 3 from BJ Ojulari.
LSU cornerback Elias Ricks, a true freshman, returned an interception 45 yards for a touchdown to give the Tigers a 31-10 halftime lead. It was his third interception of the season.
LSU head coach Ed Orgeron said he was surprised that South Carolina did not blitz Finley, more.
“They played a four man front the entire game,” said Orgeron. “I expected a deluge of blitzes.”
Finley credited offseason weight loss with helping his play. He said he got serious about his conditioning when the Covid-19 pandemic struck in March.
“I was up to 265 pounds,” said Finley. “Some of the guys were teasing me that I should be a defensive tackle.”
Instead, he is part of LSU’s present and bright future at quarterback.