BATON ROUGE -- LSU running back Leonard Fournette became the first player in Southeastern Conference history to rush for more than 200 yards in three-straight games, as he led the ninth-ranked Tigers past Eastern Michigan, 44-22, on Saturday night in Tiger Stadium.
Fournette, who moved one spot ahead of Heisman Trophy Winner Billy Cannon on LSU's career rushing list, amassed 233 yards on 26 carries with three touchdowns. In his first four games of the 2015 season, he has 99 carries for 864 yards and 11 touchdowns.
The sophomore scored in the first, third and fourth quarters to help LSU overcome an inspired Eagles' team.
Behind Fournette, LSU running back Darrel Williams added a career-best 89 yards while Derrius Guice had 34 and quarterback Brandon Harris had 20 net yards including a 21-yard touchdown run in the first quarter.
Up 17-0, the Tigers looked to cruise to victory until Eastern Michigan scored two touchdowns in 38 seconds just before halftime to keep the game interesting.
However, Fournette took a handoff for 75 yards and a touchdown on the first play of the second half to put the Tigers ahead 30-14. After an Eagles' score late in the fourth quarter, LSU added an 11-yard touchdown run by Fournette early in the fourth quarter and a 26-yard interception return for a touchdown to earn the final margin.
LSU outgained Eastern Michigan, 471-255, including a 391-94 advantage in rushing.
Eastern Michigan was led by quarterback Brogan Roback, who was 17-of-24 passing for 161 yards with a touchdown and three interceptions. Running back Darius Jackson had 66 net yards with a touchdown, while Sam Browning had three catches for 87 yards.
Defensively, LSU linebacker Kendell Beckwith and safety Rickey Jefferson each had eight tackles. Defensive end Sione Teuhema and linebacker Duke Riley each added seven more. Jones, safety Jamal Adams and cornerback Kevin Toliver II recorded interceptions for the Tigers.
Fournette culminated an eight-play, 73-yard drive with a three-yard touchdown burst to give the Tigers a 7-0 lead at the 10:40 mark of the first quarter. The drive was highlighted by a 19-yard connection from quarterback Brandon Harris to wide receiver Malachi Dupre on LSU’s first play from scrimmage.
LSU increased the lead to 14-0 at the 7:18 mark of the first quarter on a 21-yard dash by Harris. The scamper capped a four-play, 66-yard scoring drive.
The Eagles moved into LSU territory late in the first quarter, but an interception by safety Jamal Adams at the Tigers’ 28-yard line on the first play of the second period thwarted the march.
Placekicker Trent Domingue hit a 26-yard field goal to give the Tigers a 17-0 advantage with 6:45 remaining in the first half, capping a 66-yard, nine-play drive.
The march was sparked by a 23-yard run from Fournette and a third-down, 28-yard pass from Harris to tight end Colin Jeter.
EMU reduced the deficit to 17-7 with 2:48 left in the first half on a six-yard scoring dash by running back Shaq Vann. The Eagles drove 59 yards on eight plays to reach paydirt and cut the Tigers’ lead to 10 points.
LSU committed its first turnover of the season when Harris had the ball jarred from his grasp and recovered in mid-air by EMU defensive lineman Luke MacLean, who returned the ball to the Tigers’ three-yard line with 2:30 left before halftime. Running back Darius Jackson scored from one yard out two plays later to narrow the gap to 17-14.
LSU responded as Domingue hit a 45-yard field goal – his fifth successful kick in five attempts this season - to culminate a 48-yard drive in eight plays just before halftime.
Fournette gave the Tigers a 13-point cushion on the first play of the second half, sprinting 75 yards to the end zone for his longest run of the season.
Domingue connected on a 22-yard field goal to extend LSU’s lead to 30-14 at the 2:17 mark of the third quarter. A 40-yard run by Darrel Williams to the EMU seven-yard line brought the Tigers’ into scoring range.
Eastern Michigan quarterback Brogan Roback fired a 12-yard TD pass to wide receiver Dustin Creel to cap a four-play, 66-yard drive with 52 seconds left in the third period. LSU’s lead was reduced to 30-22 after Roback caught a two-point conversion pass from wide receiver Eddie Daugherty.
Fournette scored on an 11-yard touchdown run with 14:09 remaining in the game to cap a five-play, 43-yard drive after a failed EMU onside kick attempt.
LSU linebacker Deion Jones intercepted a Roback pass and returned it 26 yards for a score to give the Tigers a 44-22 lead with 12:37 left in the contest. Jones recorded an interception for the second week in a row, as he also had a pick last Saturday at Syracuse.
After an interception by Toliver, LSU took over at its 2-yard line. Behind the running of Williams, Guice and Brossette, LSU advanced 96 yards to the Eastern Michigan 2-yard line in the final minute. The Tigers kneeled the ball at the EMU 3 to run out the clock.
Editor's Note: Following the game, LSU quarterback Brandon Harris' "interception" late in the second quarter was determined to be a sack and fumble rather than an interception. This has been reflected in the box score and statistics.