It’s easy to see that Travin Dural has become quite comfortable being a big-play wide receiver for the LSU football team.
At the same time, it’s getting all-too-painful to see for opposing defensive backs.
In his first game in Tiger Stadium since hauling in a 49-yard game-winning touchdown from Anthony Jennings against Arkansas last Nov. 29 and one week after catching an 80-yard TD in a season-opening win over Wisconsin, Dural was back at it Saturday night.
He and Jennings teamed up for three first-half touchdown passes, starting with a school-record 94-yard scoring strike on the Tigers’ first play, to help 12th-ranked LSU build a 35-0 halftime cushion in an eventual 56-0 thrashing of Football Championship Series foe Sam Houston State.
Dural, who came into the game averaging 50.3 yards per reception after catching three passes for 151 yards in the opener, had a 28-yard scoring catch from Jennings on the Tigers’ second possession and added an 18-yard TD grab two series later.
The eye-opening 94-yarder came before LSU fans had a chance to settle back into their seats following an interception by safety Corey Thompson on a failed flea-flicker by Sam Houston quarterback Jared Johnson at the Bearkats’ 6.
“That really surprised me,” Dural said of the call by offensive coordinator Cam Cameron despite the poor field position. “Coach Cam must have seen something. He had enough confidence to throw me the ball and he had confidence in Anthony to throw it.”
The lengthy touchdown was the longest pass play in school history. It eclipsed the old mark of 82 yards from Steve Ensminger, who is now LSU’s tight ends coach, to Carlos Carson against Georgia in 1978.
The pass fulfilled a prophecy for Dural, a redshirt sophomore who said he knew he came close to breaking the record with his touchdown last week.
After catching a deep ball in practice on Tuesday, he said he joked with Ensminger — telling him he was coming after his 36-year-old record.
“I told him, ‘I almost got you (last week),’ ” Dural said. “I said, ‘I’m going to get you real soon.’ He laughed and said, ‘I hope you get it.’
“I didn’t think it was going to be in this game, and I didn’t think it was going to be on our first possession. It was a great call and a great throw by Anthony.”
Jennings calmly dropped back and fired the ball down the right sideline to a streaking Dural, who ran past cornerback Mikell Everette and caught the ball in stride at the Sam Houston 45.
Dural raced untouched to the end zone ahead of Everette, who had no deep help, to score with 13:32 left in the first period.
It was just the start for Dural, who burned cornerback Trenier Orr for his second touchdown at the 10:23 mark of the first quarter and leaped high over cornerback Xavier Smith at the goal line for his third score with 13:28 to play before halftime.
Dural’s catch over Orr gave LSU two touchdowns on its first seven plays — a much quicker start than it had against Wisconsin.
His final reception of the game, his 18-yard TD, might have been the prettiest of all as the rangy receiver used every inch of his 6-foot-2 frame to catch the ball at its highest point as Smith fell.
That grab gave Dural, who was averaging 61.3 yards per catch after his first reception of the evening, three catches for 140 yards.
“We have been putting in a lot of work before the season and throughout the summer,” said Jennings, who was 7 of 12 for 188 yards in the first half. “I have the utmost confidence in this guy. He runs great routes and I get great protection.”
Follow Sheldon Mickles on Twitter: @MicklesAdvocate.