Claiborne, who had only returned 10 kickoffs in his career, brought the 11th one back and shook WVU's Avery Williams to break free. The Mountaineers turned the ball over on downs on their next possession and the Tigers drove 57 yards and nine plays and scored on a 16-yard touchdown run.
A close game seemed unlikely, though, when a little gamble cost WVU a lot at the end of the half.
WVU had a first-and-10 at their 11-yard line with 1:34 to go in the half and wanted to score before kicking off to start the second half. A pass on third-and-9 went for no gain, but also came with a holding penalty on right guard Tyler Rader. LSU accepted the penalty with 46 seconds left to push WVU back to the 17. The Mountaineers opted for a quick screen to the left side, but Tyrann Mathieu anticipated the pass and tipped it into the air before catching it and returning it to the 1.
Holgorsen called a play that gave Smith the option to hand the ball off or throw a quick pass outside.
"We were aware (Mathieu) was a great football player," Holgorsen said. "I felt like he was the best player on the field the first three games and I felt like he was the best player on the field (Saturday).
"We knew he was going to do that. That's on Geno. If he thinks he can get it over him, he's got to get it over him. He was aware that kid was pretty good and when he blitzed he was going straight up the field. It's something Geno needs to do a better job of."Lee threw his third touchdown pass of the half two plays later.
The Mountaineers had a list of errors in the first half, including three turnovers that led to 13 points, a personal foul penalty that derailed the opening drive, Rader's holding penalty, the first two pre-snap penalty of the season, two dropped passes, a dropped snap and a 14-yard punt that set up LSU's first touchdown.
They fell behind right away and helped the Tigers take a 13-0 lead. Smith threw a 20-yard pass to Bailey on the first play from scrimmage, but a personal foul by center Joe Madsen after a short gain on second-and-10 set up a third-and-22. Punter Corey Smith's kick then traveled just 14 yards to give the Tigers the ball at their 42.
They needed eight plays to score on an 11-yard touchdown pass from Lee to Randle. LSU converted a third-and-8 and a third-and-13 on the drive.
WVU turned it over on its next two possessions. Brad Starks caught a pass on third-and-11 for a 10-yard gain, but was stripped trying to get the first down. Mathieu recovered, but WVU forced a punt. The Mountaineers converted two third downs coming off their own goal line, but Smith was intercepted when a pass slipped through Austin's fingers and went right to safety Brandon Taylor.
The Tigers covered 50 yards in seven plays and ran four times for 42 yards, including a 22-yard touchdown run by Ford through a big hole. LSU missed the extra point.
WVU's offense finally put together some positive plays to start the second quarter and even crossed midfield after the previous 34 plays by both sides happened in Mountaineers territory. There was a tempo that built a little confidence and even helped convert a fourth-and 4. Smith threw left to Bailey for about 10 yards, but Bailey quickly spun and slipped away from cornerback Claiborne for a 20-yard touchdown.
The Tigers hadn't allowed a touchdown in nine quarters.
Contact sportswriter Mike Casazza at mi...@dailymail.com or 304-319-1142. His blog is at blogs.dailymail.com/wvu.