Furman Football 2012 Season Recap


2012 Season In Review:

2012 Record: 3-8, 2-6 SoCon/7th 

Senior Starters: (Offense) Jerodis Williams (RB); Will King (WR); Colin Anderson (TE)

Senior Starters: (Defense) Mitch McGrath (LB); Matt Solomon (LB); Josh Lynn (DE); Colton Keig (DT); Nathan Wade (FS)

Season Recap: Plenty of unknowns surrounded the Furman football program as it headed into Bruce Fowler’s second season at the helm, and the Paladins had more significant questions than answers entering the campaign, with the graduation of its first All-SoCon quarterback since 1996, in Chris Forcier, as well as having to replace the services of All-American cornerback Ryan Steed and All-SoCon linebacker Kadarron Anderson.

Unfortunately, the questions asked at the beginning of the season, offered emphatic answers by season’s end, and the answers were the kind that those associated with the Paladin football program don’t like to hear. Furman posted just its second season with less than four wins since 1972, as the Paladins completed the campaign with a 3-8 overall and a 2-6 mark in Southern Conference play, finding inconsistency on the offensive side of the football, as well as seeing a veteran defense entering the season struggle much more than one would have expected.

Furman’s three wins in 2012, which came against Presbyterian (31-21), Western Carolina (45-24) and Elon (31-17), were against teams that finished the season with a combined 6-27 overall record. Furman finished with its worst home record (1-4) in the 31 seasons that Paladin Stadium has played host to Furman football games.

For Furman fans looking for something to soothe the pain of enduring just the second three-win season since 1972, it might be found in the fact that Fowler’s 9-13 record after two seasons matched the record of former Paladin legendary coach Bobby Johnson, who matched that mark in his first two seasons in Greenville in 1994 and ’95, doing so in reverse order of Fowler’s mark.

After that inauspicious 9-13 start over his first two seasons, Johnson would post a 51-23 record over his final six seasons at the helm, leading the Paladins to a pair of shared SoCon titles in 1999 and ’01, a national title appearance in ’01, and NCAA Division I-AA (now FCS) postseason appearances in four out the next six campaigns before taking the head coaching position at Vanderbilt in December of 2001.

The Paladins would see a majority of their struggles in the 2012 season come in the second half of games, getting outscored 196-106 in the second half of games, failing to score in the fourth quarter  in nine of 11 games during the 2012 campaign.

In two games during the 2012 season, the Paladins did manage to outscore an opponent in the second half of a game, as the Paladins out-paced both Appalachian State (14-6) and Coastal Carolina (39-37) in the second half of ballgames this season. However, Furman dropped both games.

Despite its worst mark since 1994, the Paladins were competitive with the league’s elite in 2012.

Furman lost to Southern Conference co-champions Wofford and Appalachian State by a combined five points in two games that were on the road, and the Paladins held a 7-3 halftime lead over No. 2 Georgia Southern at halftime, and were tied 10-10 with the Eagles with under five minutes remaining in the third quarter, only to lose by 21 points.

In fact, if you look at Furman’s entire 2012 slate and include Coastal Carolina into the mix, Furman lost to three playoff qualifying teams by a combined eight points.

There were some positives in 2012, and though you have to look to find them, they are the kind of positives that bode well for the 2013 campaign. Namely, the Paladins saw four freshmen garner SoCon All-Freshman honors this past season, including true freshman quarterback Reese Hannon (160-for-260 passing, 1,896 yds, 7 TDs, 8 INTs), who stepped in for an injured Dakota Derrick (22-of-53 passing, 307 yds, 1 TD, 4 INTs/23 rush att, 21 yds) in the second game of the season and never relinquished the position for the remainder of the season.

Hannon, the cousin of former Furman standout quarterback Justin Hill (1996-00), will now be charged with leading what Paladin fans hope will be a return to the winning ways, which began in the late 1970′s and stretched all the way to the mid 2000′s and saw the Paladins claim a league standard 12 league conference titles, which was tied by Appalachian State this season.

Hannon’s success quickly drew him national attention, as he was added to the Jerry Rice Award Watch List, which is awarded to the nation’s top freshman talent. He became the first true freshman to start a game under center for the Paladins since 1997, when Brent Rickman took over the reins of the Paladin offense for an injured Chris Jonas.

The Greer, S.C. product was mature beyond his years from the outset, leading the Paladins into the red zone on their first drive against Top-10 ranked Clemson in his first career start in the third week of the season. Hannon would finish the day connecting on 19-of-29 passes for 235 yards, with a TD and INT in the 41-7 setback. It marked the second of what would be four-straight 200-yard passing performances for the young signal-caller.

All told, Hannon would finish the season with five 200-yard passing performances, proving to be one of the most accurate freshman quarterbacks in Furman football history, as he completed the season connecting on an astounding 61.6% of his passes (127.7 passing eff. rating) in his 10 games during the 2012 season.

Another of those freshman players that impressed from the first time he stepped foot on the Furman campus is wide receiver Jordan Snellings (19 rec, 210 yds, 3 TDs, 11.9 YPR). In fact, the argument could be made that the Paladin coaching staff at times forgot about the big-play wideout, whose first two catches as a Paladin receiver were TDs. The Atlanta, GA., product has a chance to be that “big-play” wide receiver Furman so desperately lacked as a downfield threat during the 2012 season.

The area that must be addressed during the off-season is the lack of a big-play threat at wide receiver for the Paladins at wideout, and in pretty much any successful season that has seen the Paladins have some success on the offensive side of the ball, you can easily spot the deep threat at wide receiver. In the late 1980′s, it was Donald Lipscomb, in the mid-late ’90′s it was Des Kitchings, and in the early portion of the 2000′s, it was Brian Bratton and Isaac West. Snellings has a chance to be a lot like West was in terms of speed and overall ability to make a defense pay for a missed assignment. The last true downfield threat Furman has had was Adam Mims in 2010, and even last season, Sederrik Cunningham offered the kind of speed that kept defenses honest–just ask Appalachian State.

Certainly the future prospects of a Hannon-to-Snellings quarterback-receiver tandem could prove to be one that Paladin fans come to tell tales about years after the two have moved on.

It was Snellings that hauled in a 21-yard pass with just under two minutes to play, that helped the Paladins get within four points of the Chanticleers (22-18) and had a 37-yard scoring catch in the Paladins’ 41-7 loss at Clemson.

The Paladins got some somewhat surprisingly strong play from its offensive line this past season, coming into the campaign with what many perceived as a “patchwork” offensive line.

Supremely key elements along that offensive front this past season were veteran left tackle Dakota Dozier and true freshman offensive guard Joe Turner.

The Roswell, GA., product logged action on starts in eight of 11 games for the Paladins during the 2012 campaign, showing his versatility and offensive line, as he saw action at both offensive guard positions and offensive tackle along the Furman offensive front. Turner saw action on 550 plays for the Furman offense in 2012.

Despite missing a couple of games as a result of a knee injury late in the 2012 season, Dozier managed to garner SoCon All-League honors for the second-straight campaign. The West Columbia, S.C., product garnered First-Team All-SoCon honors this past season after earning Second-Team laurels as a sophomore in 2011.

Turner and Dozier were part of an offensive player that aided the Paladin offense in yielding a 1,000-yard rusher for a second-straight season and helped the Paladins average 5.8 yards-per-play this past season, including 4.6 yards rushing per game.

The 2012 season sees the end of two career Paladin careers that will go down of two of the greatest to play their respective positions in any four-year period on the offensive side of the foothball, in running back Jerodis Williams (199 rush att, 1,170 yds, 11 TDs, 5.9 YPC/26 rec, 171 yds, 6.6 YPR) and tight end Colin Anderson (27 rec, 455 yds, 16.9 YPR), with both garnering First-Team All-SoCon praise in 2012.

Williams, a native of Prattville, AL, finished his career with 3,097 career yards, which is good enough for fifth-place on the school’s all-time rushing ledger. Williams was not only one of the SoCon’s most-feared running backs in his swan song campaign as a Paladin, but the agile, athletic running back was also one of the nation’s most potent return threats, posting a pair of 100-yard returns for scores against Appalachian State and Western Carolina.  Williams became the first Paladin to return two kickoffs for scores since 2001, when Paladin Hall-of-Fame wide receiver Brian Bratton had a pair of returns for scores against Appalachian State and Wofford.

For Williams’ efforts, which saw him average an FCS-best 35.9 yards-per-return in 2012, he will likely find himself a Sports Network All-America selection at season’s end and was a First-Team All-SoCon selection as a kick return specialist.

Williams’ season was highlighted by his performance in Furman’s lone home triumph of the season–a 45-24 win over Western Carolina–as he posted the second-m0st all-purpose yards in league history, posting 370 yards (239 rush yards, 131 kick-return yards) in the 21-point victory.

As a rushing threat in the substantial win over the Catamounts, Williams carried 18 times for 239 yards and a couple of scores, accounting for the fourth-best rushing day for a Paladin running back in school history.

Williams’ 89-yard rushing score early in the second-quarter was the longest offensive play from scrimmage during the 2012 season, while the run also marked the second-longest run from scrimmage in school history, bested only by Ross Sutton’s 93-yard scoring jaunt in 1951.

The 201 yards rushing in a half against the Catamounts tied former Paladin Hall-of-Fame running back Louis Ivory’s (1998-2001) 201-yard output in the second half of Furman’s 45-10 win over Georgia Southern in 2000. It was part of an afternoon that would see Ivory set the school’s all-time single-game rushing mark, which still stands today, at 301 rushing yards.

The rushing performance by Williams helped link him to Ivory in yet another respect, as his 200-yard rushing performance was the first since the 2000 Walter Payton Award winner’s junior season, who rushed better than 200 yards in the regular-season finale against Chattanooga.

Williams had his first of two 100-yard kick returns against the Catamounts, accounting for most of his 131 kick-return yards on the record-setting afternoon for the senior running back/return specialist. His 370 all-purpose yards in a single game marks a new school standard.

After rushing for just 872 yards in his first couple of seasons, head coach Bruce Fowler and offensive coordinator Jimmy Kiser’s influence on getting Furman back to a dominant ground game were revealed in the 2,225 rushing yards for Williams in his junior and senior campaigns, becoming the first  Paladin running back to record back-to-back 1,000-yard rushing seasons since Ivory’s back-to-back 1.000-yard campaigns in 2000 and ’01.

Williams became just the seventh Paladin running back to record a 1,000-yard rushing campaign, and just the  fourth to accomplish the feat two or more times in a career, joining Ivory (1999, 2000 and ’01), Carl Tremble (1990 and ’92) and Stanford Jennings (1981, ’82 and ’83) to accomplish the milestone more than once in a four-year window. In total, it marked the 14th time a Paladin running back has rushed for 1,000 yards in a campaign since 1949. The 1,170 rushing yards in a single-season amassed by Williams in 2012 marked the seventh-best single-season rushing total by a Furman running back in the history of the program.

Anderson, who came to Furman as a walk-on and was a quarterback during his days as a prep player, would go on to finish his career as one of the best tight ends in the history of the program. Anderson finished his well-decorated Paladin career as the all-time leader in career receiving TDs for a tight end, with 11 and that comes despite not catching one this past season.

Additionally, Anderson also ranked second all-time among Furman tight ends in career receptions (90) and receiving yards (1,541). He entered the 2012 season as a preseason First-Team All-American, according to the Sports Network. Over the past couple of seasons, Anderson was able to be one of Furman’s top downfield receiving threats. Anderson garnered First-Team All-SoCon honors according to the Southern Conference Coaches.

The Paladins will bid farewell to five starters on the defensive starters, with Josh Lynn (36 tackles, 7.0 TFL, 3.0 sacks, 1 PD, 1 FF) having been the only one of those five seniors to garner postseason All-SoCon honors.

Lynn was part of a defensive line that was without question the strength of the Paladin defense this past fall, teaming with junior defensive end Shawn Boone (26 tackles, 5.5 TFL, 3.5 sacks) to form one of the league’s top pass-rush defensive end tandems this season.

Lynn logged was a solid career at his bookend post for the Paladins, garnering All-SoCon honors each of his final two campaigns in Greenville.For his career, Lynn produced plenty of great moments and highlights for Paladin football fans. Lynn is a player that became one of the league’s most-feared pass-rushers by the time he was a senior. 

The Paladins must also find replacements for a pair of solid linebackers, in Matt Solomon (87 tackles, 6.0 TFL, 2.0 sacks) at middle linebacker and Mitch McGrath (86 tackles, 8.0 TFL, 2.0 sacks, 2 INTs, 8 PBUs, 2 FFs, 1 FR), who established himself as one the best outside linebackers to play for the Paladins in recent seasons.  Veteran safety and two-time All-SoCon honoree Nathan Wade (77 tackles, 2.0 TFL, 3 PBUs, 2 INTs) must be replaced at free safety, as well as veteran defensive tackle Colton Keig (45 tackles, 5.5 TFL, 2.0 sacks).

Game-By-Game Review of 2012 Season:

Game 1: Samford 24, Furman 21

BIRMINGHAM, AL.–Furman’s 24-21 season-opening loss to Samford at Seibert Stadium would be a microcosm of things to come for the 2012 season, which was a campaign of “close calls” and “almosts” for the Paladins.

Beginning the season with a road Southern Conference game for the first time since 1975, it would be Samford’s Cameron Yaw that would come through and boot a 27-yard field goal with 37 seconds remaining in the game, helping the Bulldogs defeat the Paladins in heartbreaking fashion for a second-straight season.

Senior Dakota Derrick started under center for the Paladins in the season-opener against the Bulldogs, and the senior showed flashes of brilliance, but struggled for much of the afternoon, and completed the game throwing three INTs. In total, Derrick finished the season opener going 11-for-25 passing for 201 yards, with a TD and three INTs.

Meanwhile, Samford quarterback Andy Summerlin, a transfer into the program from Memphis, was impressive all afternoon for Samford, completing 23-of-37 passes for 237 yards and a couple of TDs, as he helped lead a Samford offense that nipped the Paladins in total offensive yards on the day, 366-359.

Turnovers would be costly for the Paladins, who handed the ball over four times to the Bulldogs on the day, which included the three Derrick picks as well as a muffed punt by Will King in the third quarter, which turned the tide of the game.

The season opener against Samford would be the beginning of what turned out to be a second-straight 1,000-yard season for Jerodis Williams, who just missed the 100-yard rushing plateau in the contest, with 100 yards and a TD on 20 carries. His 17-yard scoring scamper late in the third quarter helped the Paladins forge their third tie of the day, at 21-21.

Williams’ effort also soldified his place in the Furman all-time rushing record books, as the senior eclipsed the 2,000-yard mark for his career (2,025 yds), as he became the 11th player in school history to accomplish the feat.

Samford got a strong effort from its All-SoCon running back Fabian Truss, who finished the day with 102 yards on 19 carries.

King led the Paladins’ receiving efforts on the day, as he hauled in four passes for 89 yards, which included a 36-yard TD reception in the second quarter, tying the game, 7-7, with 7:28 to play in the half. Samford got a solid receiving afternoon from Riley Hawkins, who hauled in five passes for 79 yards and a score.All-SoCon wideout Kelsey Pope also turned in a solid day for the Bulldogs, with four catches for 48 yards and a score.

After Williams’ score tied the game 21-21 with 44 seconds remaining in the third quarter, it appeared Furman had finally gotten momentum on its side in the contest.

The Paladin defense would hold Samford on the ensuing drive handing the ball back over the Derrick and the Paladin offense. Derrick would lead the Paladins from their own 16 into Samford territory to the 46-yard line, however, Bulldogs linebacker Michael Pendergrast would intercept a poorly thrown pass ending the Furman scoring threat and giving the Bulldogs the football at their own 32-yard line.

“On fourth and three, punting situation at the Paladins 49, Furman was flagged for offsides, allowing Samford to retain possession before punting the Paladins into a hole at the Furman 12.

The Paladins failed to pick up a first down and were again forced to kick.  Ray Early’s 43-yard effort gave Samford the ball at their own 41 with 5:27 to go, after which the Bulldogs controlled the ball and took advantage of the interference call to set up Yaw’s game winning field goal.

Furman avoided an early deficit with a successful goal line stand on fourth down on the Samford’s first possession.

The Bulldogs opened the scoring after Brandon Nettles intercepted a pass by Paladin quarterback Dakota Derrick at the Samford 39.  Bulldog signal caller Andy Summerlin connected with Chris Cephus for 51 yards to the Furman 5 and on the next play drilled a 5-yard strike into the hands of Kelsey Pope for a 7-0 lead with less than a minute left in the first period.

Furman tied it midway through the second quarter when Derrick lofted a pass into the hands of Will King, who turned and sprinted down the sideline to complete a 36-yard scoring play.

The Bulldogs answered almost immediately behind Summerlin, who on the ensuing possession connected with Pope for 37 yards to the Furman 38 and on the next play dropped a 38-yard scoring strike into the hands of Riley Hawkins behind Paladin coverage.

Furman promptly tied it at 14-14, using five plays to cover 73 yards.  A 41-yard Derrick connection to Paladin All-America tight end Colin Anderson gave the Paladins the ball the Bulldog 31.  Williams then rolled around right end for 27 yards to the 4, and two plays later freshman Ernie Cain bulled over from a yard out to knot the game.

A fumbled punt by Furman that was recovered by Samford’s Trey Wesley at the Paladin 17 set up the first score of the second half, a 1-yard plunge by Summerlin that gave the Bulldogs a 21-14 advantage.” (Furman Sports Information Recap, 9/1/2012)

Game 2: Coastal Carolina 47 at Furman 45 (OT)

GREENVILLE, S.C.–Furman opened its home slate with a 47-45, triple overtime loss to Coastal Carolina in what was one of the wildest games played in the facility since it played host to its first game some 31 years earlier.

The overtime game, which was delayed 15 minutes as a result of severe thunderstorms in the area, marked the Paladins’  first overtime game since a 54-51 loss at The Citadel in 2007.

The win by the Chanticleers marked the second-straight over the Paladins, while also marking the third loss in four meetings with the Chanticleers.

The game would also see the emergence of true freshman Reese Hannon under center, who came in for an injured Dakota Derrick, and he would put on a performance that would garner him the job for the remainder of the season.

The Greer, S.C., native was simply sensational, as he connected on 22-of-35 passes for 255 yards and four TDs in his collegiate debut.

Hannon was forced into the lineup late in the second quarter, when starter Dakota Derrick went down with a shoulder injury to his throwing arm after getting hit on an option play.

It certainly didn’t appear the Paladins and Chanticleers would be headed for a wild finish with Coastal Carolina holding a 22-12 lead with 4:12 remaining at a rain-soaked Paladin Stadium. But the fireworks were just about to begin for the Paladin offense, providing what would be one of the more memorable finishes in stadium history.

First, Hannon would hook up with true freshman wideout Jordan Snellings on a 21-yard TD strike with 1:59 to play, bringing the Paladins to within 21-18. The Paladins would then proceed to recover the on-sides kick, as the ball would be recovered by senior wideout Will King with 1:59 to play in the contest, as the Paladins took the football at midfield.

Hannon would proceed to lead an impressive nine-play, 50-yard drive, helping the Paladins take their first lead of the game, when he hooked up with Ryan Culbreath for a 22-yard scoring strike with 40 seconds remaining, and Furman had a 25-22 lead. The fans remaining in the saturated Paladin Stadium were in a frenzy.

However, Coastal Carolina, under first-year head coach Joe Moglia, would offer a quick response to force the dramatic overtime session. Two-straight 20-yard pass completions by Chanticleer record-setting quarterback Aramis Hillary would get Coastal Carolina’s offense well into Furman territory, with the ball resting at the 28-yard line after those two big pass plays.

With five seconds remaining and facing less-than-desirable kicking conditions, Alex Catron’s 45-yard field goal attempt barely skimmed over the cross bar to tie the game, 25-25, as time expired.

In the overtime session, the two offenses would spring to life, and would seemingly score points as if they were going out of style.

Jeremy Height’s 1-yard plunge on Coastal Carolina’s opening drive of the overtime session, saw the Chanticleers take a 32-25 lead after Catron’s extra point split the uprights. It took Hillary and the Chants just three plays to cover the 25 yards to pay dirt and get on the board.

Furman, which had seen its offense come to life in the fourth quarter, would continue its momentum in the overtime session, led by the brash, confident young quarterback. Hannon tossed his fourth TD of the night, as he connected with King with a 25-yard pass on the opening play of the drive, tying the game, 32-32, following Ray Early’s PAT.

As a result of the overtime rules, Furman would get the football back to begin the second overtime session, and it took only one play for All-SoCon running back Jerodis Williams to give the Paladins their second lead of the contest, finding the end zone on a 25-yard dash around the left side, giving the Paladins a 39-32 lead following Early’s PAT.

Needing to score a TD to stay alive in the game, the Chanticleers would do just that, as it took the Chanticleers just one play to answer Furman’s score. Hillary, who was having a big day throwing the football in his own right for Coastal, found All Big South wideout Matt Hazel on a 25-yard fade route down the left sideline to tie the game, 39-39, after Catron’s PAT split the uprights.

Coastal Carolina would get the ball to begin the third overtime with the opportunity to take the lead once again. In the third overtime, the rules change if you score a TD, with teams being forced to go for a two-point conversion rather than opt for the single point via the PAT.

It took little time for the Chanticleers to find the end zone once again, and after losing a yard on the first play of the drive, Hillary tossed yet another TD pass, as he hooked up with South Carolina transfer DeMario Bennett on a 26-yard strike, giving the Chanticleers a 45-39 lead after the scoring connection. Then, on the two-point play, Moglia and the Chanticleers pulled a play out of the back-pocket, converting the reverse beautifully to Bennett around the right corner, giving the Chanticleers the eight-point cushion, at 47-39.

With the pressure on the Furman offense once again, the unit would respond with poise and composure, using the ground attack to once again wear down the Chanticleers’ defense. It took the Paladins just three plays to cover 25 yards, with Hank McCloud capping the drive with a 3-yard run to bring the Paladins within two points, at 47-45.

However, the Paladins would lose the game in the most heartbreaking of fashions, as the Hannon’s pass intended for senior wideout in the back left corner of the end zone fell incomplete, as the ball was caught out of bounds and the Paladins fell to 0-2 on the young season.

“The fourth quarter outburst help Furman post a 439-404 margin in total offense.  Jerodis Williams led all rushers with 15 carries 85 yards and a touchdown.  Will Kingcaught a career high nine passes for 116 yard and a score, and Ryan Culbreath claimed a new career high with six catches for 78 yard and two touchdowns. Senior linebacker Matt Solomon‘s game high 15 stops also marked a career high,” (Furman Sports Information Recap, 9/8/2012).

Coastal Carolina got a monster evening from Hillary and its passing attack, as he connected on 20-of-27 throws for 292 yards, with a couple of TDs and an INT. The Chanticleers were led defensively by linebacker Quinn Backus, who registered a team-leading 11 stops, a tackle-for-loss, two pass break-ups and a fumble recovery in the win.

Game 3: No. 9 Clemson 40, Furman 7 

CLEMSON, S.C.–Furman headed just down the road to face FBS 10th-ranked Clemson facing the prospects of beginning a season 0-3 for the first time since 1979.

Though the Paladins dropped a 41-7 decision to the Tigers, it was a game which would see Furman play a solid game, despite the lopsided loss on the road to a higher classified Division I foe.

The high-octane Tigers had proven in their first two games of the season that they would once again be a force to be reckoned with in the ACC, and with an offense that had averaged 500 yards of output in their first couple of wins over Ball State and Auburn, the Tigers had the potential to score on anyone in the country.

That, and the fact that preseason ACC Player of the Year Sammy Watkins was returning at receiver after serving a two-game suspension to open the season, many in the media as well as fans from both sides envisioned a blood-letting for the Paladins.

To its credit, however, the Furman defense stepped up and did its best to prevent the big play, and for the most part, did hold its own for much of the day, save one occasion.

Also impressive was the play of the Paladin offense, which showed the ability to move the football against the FBS defense from the outset of the game.

After taking the ball on the opening possession of the contest, Furman proceeded to drive the football into the red zone, but a fake field goal pass from wide receiver Will King was intercepted in the end zone to end the Paladins’ scoring threat.

True Freshman quarterback Reese Hannon, who was making his first start as a collegiate quarterback under center, showed little signs of being rattled with a raucous crowd of 81,500 on hand witness the game, as he led the Paladins 63 yards to the Clemson 5-yard line before the Paladins were turned back by the Clemson defense on three plays, and then on the fourth-down, fake field interception.

It was all part of what would be another impressive performance from Hannon, who finished the contest by completing 19-of-29 passes for 235 yards, with a TD and an INT in his first collegiate start. It was a part of an afternoon which saw the Furman offense rack up 352 yards in a solid effort in the loss.

The Tigers would take over the football at their own 20 following the INT in their own end zone, and proceeded to mount their first scoring drive of the day, as Clemson 80 yards in seven play, using just 1:44 off the game clock, as the drive was capped by a 10-yard scoring run from running back Andre Ellington, making it a 7-0 ballgame.

After Furman was forced to punt on its next drive, the Clemson drive would reach a fever pitch, as Watkins broke free on a 58-yard run around the right corner, out-pacing the Paladin secondary to pay dirt to extend Clemson’s lead to two scores, at 14-0, following the Chandler Cantanzaro PAT. The Watkins run capped a five-play, 86-yard drive for the Tigers.

The Paladins would get a spark from its offense late in the half, however, following a 46-yard field goal by Cantanzaro, which extended Clemson’s lead to 17-0. The Paladins needed just three plays to cover 84 yards and cut Clemson’s lead to 10. Jerodis Williams got the drive off to a strong start with a nine-yard run followed by a 39-yard sprint to get the Paladins down to the Clemson 37 after two plays. On the next play, Hannon hooked up with classmate Jordan Snellings for a 37-yard scoring strike, accounting for the Paladins’ only score of the day.

With a little over four minutes remaining in the half, the Tigers would close out the half by adding a second Cantanzaro field goal, this time from 22 yards out, to cap an 11-play, 71-yard scoring drive, as Clemson headed to the locker room with a 20-7 lead.

In the second half, Clemson would tack on 21 more points, including a 1-yard plunge by Ellington and a 30-yard TD reception by Sherrod Ford gave the Tigers a comfortable 34-7 lead, and the Tigers would tack on one more score on a 39-yard hookup between Tahj Boyd and Martavis Bryant to provide the final scoreline in the contest.

Clemson boasted a 498-352 advantage in total yards, and Tahj Boyd led the way under center for the Tigers, as he connected on 20-of-29 passes for 310 yards and a couple of scores.

Late in the contest, Furman cornerback Reggie Thomas would help the Paladins garner their only turnover in the contest, picking off a Cole Stoudt pass in the fourth quarter.

For the third-straight week Williams ran the ball strong once again, finishing the afternoon with 87 yards on 19 carries.

Game 4: Furman 31, Presbyterian 21

CLINTON, S.C.–Furman would pick up its first victory of the 2012 season on the road, as it took a 24-0 lead to the halftime locker room, and the Paladins were able to hold on for a 31-21 win over Presbyterian at Bailey Memorial Stadium.

The Paladins storm to the halftime lead on the stength of three first-half TDs from Hank McCloud, which came as a part of a then career-high 78 yards on 12 carries, posting first-half TD runs of 45, 13 and seven yards. McCloud combined with All-SoCon running back Jerodis Williams to rush for 211 of the Paladins’ 261 rush yards on the day. In total, the Paladins would roll up a 456-313 advantage in total yards on the day.

It was yet another 200-yard passing performance for Reese Hannon, as the Greer, S.C., native connected on 17-of-26 passes for 217 yards, marking his third-straight 200-yard passing performance in just his third game of his college career.

The game marked the first between the Paladins and Blue Hose in Clinton since 1975. The Paladins would get on the board on their first drive of the contest and wouldn’t look back the remainder of the afternoon, as the Paladins got on the board via a 45-yard TD run from McCloud, and on the next Paladin possession, McCloud followed his first scoring run by find the end zone from 13 yards out to give the Paladins an early 14-0 lead.

Early in the second quarter, Furman used a big play in the passing game to get back into the PC red zone, as Hannon hooked up with Paladin All-America tight end Colin Anderson for a 50-yard pass play to once again put the Paladin offense in great shape. That drive would eventually yield McCloud’s third scoring run of the afternoon, as he found the end zone from seven yards out, as he continued his career half for the Paladins, and gave Furman a 21-0 lead midway through the second quarter.

Furman would tack on one more first-half score, as junior field goal kicker Ray Early would add a 21-yard field goal with 21 seconds to play in the opening half, giving the Paladins a more than comfortable 24-0 cushion entering the halftime locker room.

The field goal by Early capped another impressive scoring drive from the Paladins, which covered 54 yards in 10 plays. The total dominance by the Paladins in the opening half of play was seen statistically, as Furman posted a 334-87 advantage in total yardage at the break.

The two teams would trade scores in the third quarter. PC would emerge from the locker room with an impressive drive to open the second half, led by talented, young quarterback Tamyn Garrick. Garrick would lead the Blue Hose on one of their most impressive drives of the young 2012 season, as PC would cut Furman’s lead to 24-7 by using 12 plays to cover 73 yards, culminating with a Garrick-to-Arthur Williams five-yard scoring connection.

However, Furman would squelch some of that momentum garnered from the long scoring drive from the Blue Hose, as the Paladins put together a 16-play, 67-yard scoring drive of their own, stretching its lead back to 24 points after Jerodis Williams, who led the Paladins in rushing with 136 yards on 23 carries, posted his only scoring scamper of the day on a five-yard scamper to make the score 31-7 with 37 seconds remaining in the third quarter.

It would be Furman’s final score of the day, as the Blue Hose would outscore the Paladins 14-0 in the final quarter to produce the final 10-point margin. Garrick would continue his strong second-half performance leading the Blue Hose on scoring drives of 79 and 86 yards in the final quarter, capped by scoring runs of four and three yards from Michael Ruff and DeMarcus Rouse, respectively.

Garrick finished the day completing 20-of-32 passes for 270 yards, with a TD and an INT. Furman’s defense was solid against the run in the contest, holding PC to just 42 rushing yards on 27 attempts, while the Paladins also registered four sacks.

Furman was led defensively by linebackers Gary Wilkins and Matt Solomon, who receording nine and eight tackles, respectively. Solomon also added a sack and a pass deflection. Outside linebacker Mitch McGrath contributed four stops, three pass deflections and an INT, while junior defensive end Shawn Boone posted two tackles, a sack and a fumble recovery.

The win over the Blue Hose snapped a five-game losing streak for the Paladins dating back to the 2011 season, as the Paladins lost their final two games to Elon and Florida to close out the previous campaign, coupled with the 0-3 start to the 2012 campaign. The win also marked Furman’s 14th-straight against the Blue Hose dating back to 1975, and is the longest active winning streak Furman owns against an opponent.

 Game 5: Furman 45, Western Carolina 24

GREENVILLE, S.C.–It was “White Out” Saturday in Greenville, and senior running back Jerodis Williams’ performance would go down as one of the greatest individual offensive performances by a running back in Furman football history, as well as being a performance that prove to be the second-best all-purpose yardage performance in Southern Conference history.

The Prattville, AL native finished the day with 370 all-purpose yards (239 yds rushing,  131 kick-return yds) in leading the Paladins to a comfortable 45-24 SoCon win over Western Carolina.

Williams was simply sensational for the Paladins, rushing for a career-high 239 yards on just 18 carries, including a pair of scores via the ground, which covered 89 and two yards, respectively. The 239 rushing yards by Williams were the fourth-most in school history.

Williams also tied a Paladin Stadium record with a 100-yard kickoff return for a score, and the senior from Prattville, AL, finished the afternoon with 131 kick return yards on two kickoff returns

Furman amassed 619 yards of total offense, including 389 yards on the ground, as the Paladins eclipsed the 600-yard barrier and rolled up its most rushing yards since the 2003 regular-season finale against Chattanooga in a 63-35 win.

Furman won the toss and took possession of the football. The Paladins wasted little time in moving the ball down the field against the Catamounts, and it was Williams who quickly went to work on his career day.

On Furman’s first drive alone, Williams posted 42 yards on three carries, but on his final carry of the drive, which was a 14-yard jaunt to the Catamount 1-yard line, Western stripped the ball loose and it squirted free into the end zone before eventually going out of the back of the end zone for a touchback, and WCU took over at its own 20.

Like Furman, WCU threw quite an offensive punch on its opening drive of the afternoon, matriculating 74 yards in 10 plays, but had to settle for a Richard Sigmon 23-yard field goal after the drive fizzled out in the Paladin red zone. Sigmon’s 23-yard field goal gave Furman a 3-0 lead at the 9:19 mark of the first quarter.

The lead for the Catamounts, however, would literally last a matter of seconds for the Catamounts, as on the ensuing kickoff, Williams made up for his fumble on the opening possession of the game by returning the Catamount kickoff 100 yards for a score and give the Paladins a lead they would not relenquish the remainder of way, taking a 7-3 lead.

After the two teams could get nothing established on each of their next two drives, Furman would get the ball back early in the second quarter, and it took only one play for Williams to give the Paladins a 14-3 lead, as he took a toss sweep from quarterback Reese Hannon off the left side, and he took it 89 yards to the house for an 11-point Furman lead just a little over 30 seconds into the second quarter. The 89-yard scoring run by Williams was the second-longest in school history.

Williams would post his third score of the half on Furman’s next offensive possession. The Paladins’ defense once again forced the Catamounts to punt the football away, and mounted an 11-play, 88-yard drive that culminated with a Williams 2-yard plunge with 6:42 remaining in the half, giving the Paladins a comfortable cushion, at 21-3.

Williams went into the locker room having already rushed for 201 yards on the ground, tying the school record for most yards in a half by a Paladin running back. Former Furman running back Louis Ivory rushed for 201 yards en route to a school-record 301-yard outburst in leading the Paladins to an astonishing 45-10 win over top-ranked Georgia Southern in 2000.

After the Furman defense held once again, the Furman offense went back to work, and the Paladins got their third rushing score of the half when Hank McCloud bolted 20 yards around the right corner for a score to make it 28-3 with 3:28 to play in the half.

The Catamounts would finally stop the bleeding a little bit on the ensuing drive, with Michael Vaughn’s three-yard scoring running completing 12-play, 80-yard drive with 35 seconds remainning in the half, cutting the Furman lead to 18 points, at 28-10.

For the second time in the first half, the Paladin kick return team did an excellent job of sealing off one side of the field, this time allowing McCloud to return the ball 36 yards just inside Catamount territory, at the 48 with 28 seconds remaining in the half.

On the second play from scrimmage, Hannon’s pass was on the money to senior wideout Will King for a 20-yard gain to set up a 45-yard Ray Early field goal to extend Furman’s lead to 31-10 entering the halftime locker room.

WCU had the ball on the opening possession of the second half, and that would set the stage for Furman’s first defensive score of the season.

On a 3rd-and-9 play at his own 46, Catamount quarterback Eddie Sullivan faced heavy pressure from Furman blitzing linebacker Mitch McGrath, and intended receiver Deja Alexander slipped on a comeback route and the ball was intercepted by Furman defensive back Marcus McMorris and returned 52 yards for a score to give the Paladins a 38-10 lead a little over two minutes into the second half.

Hannon, who has passed for over 200 yards in each of the four games he has played for the Paladins, got his arm into the act in the second half. After passing for only 41 yards in the opening half, Hannon exploded for 189 yards after the break to finish the day completing 13-of-21 passes for 230 yards and a score.

Hannon’s fourth-straight 200-yard passing effort matches a string of four-consecutive 200-yard passing performances by his predecessor, Chris Forcier, who passed for 200 more yards against PC, Western Carolina, Samford and Wofford last season en route to garnering First-Team All-SoCon accolades last fall.

Hannon’s lone scoring toss of the day came came with a little over three minutes remaining in the third quarter, connecting with his favorite target since taking over under center, as he found King on a drag route for a 70-yard scoring strike to make it a 45-10 game with 3:08 to play in the third quarter.

The Catamounts would tack on a pair of fourth quarter TDs–a 15-yard scoring connection between Sullivan and Nate Stephenson and a Vaughn 1-yard plunge to set the final score line, at 45-24.

Overshadowed in Williams’ big afternoon for the Paladins was McCloud, who also established a new career-high for rushing with 123 yards on 20 carries, including a TD.

King had another strong day catching the ball for the Paladins, leading the Paladins in receiving for the third time in three games, with five catches 143 yards and a TD. King came into the contest ranking second in the SoCon in receiving yards per game (66.0).

Preseason Sports Network First Team All-America tight end Colin Anderson hauled in four passes for 45 yards to finish with another solid performance.

The Catamounts amassed 420 yards of total offensive output against the Paladins, with 236 yards coming through the air and 184 on the ground. Sullivan connected on 20-of-33 passes for 220 yards with a TD and a pair of INTs, while rushing for 104 yards on 16 carries. In total, Sullivan accounted for 334 yards of total offense on his own.

Kannoris Benson caught four passes for 75 yards to lead the receivers for the Catamounts.

Defensively, Furman was led by Gary Wilkins who had nine stops, while Furman All-SoCon free safety Nathan Wade had eight stops and an INT.

Notes:

-Furman has now won seven-straight games against Western Carolina, as well as having claimed 17 of the past 19 meetings. The Paladins have now won nine-straight over Western Carolina in Greenville, dating back to the 1994 season.

-Williams finished his career rushing for 556 yards and four TDs on 73 attempts against Western Carolina, which is easily the best against any foe he faced in his four-year Paladin career.

Game 6: No. 6 Wofford 20, Furman 17

SPARTANBURG, S.C.–Playing just a 40-minute drive North on I-85, Furman looked faced a crucial game in its bid to keep its playoff and Southern Conference title hopes alive, as it went looking for a second-straight win over a Top-10 ranked Wofford team at Gibbs Stadium.

Things looked pretty good, as the Paladins entered the halftime locker room sporting a 14-10 lead, however, a strong defensive effort in the second half by the Terriers, which saw Wofford out-score the Paladins 10-3 in the second half to gut out a hard-fought win in what was a physical 86th renewal of the Upstate Palmetto State rivalry.

The win helped the Terriers maintain their unblemished overall record (5-0), while also improving to 3-0 in Southern Conference play. Meanwhile, the loss left Furman with little margin for error if the Paladins wanted to make the postseason and virtually any league title aspirations, as the Paladins fell to 2-4 overall and 1-2 in Southern Conference play.

The loss would prove to be a deflating one to the Paladins, as Furman would drop its next two games in league play to Chattanooga and Georgia Southern in decisive fashion, before finding the win column again on the road at Elon.

The loss to the Terriers in many was was a microcosm of the 2012 season as a whole for the Furman Paladin football team, which was could be best surmised as missed opportunities.

Furman used a physical ground attack, much like it had done a year earlier in Greenville to get a 26-21 win over the No. 4 Terriers, allowing Paladin First-Year head coach Bruce Fowler to pick up his first-career win over a ranked opponent as a head football coach.

Likewise, on the defensive side of the football, the Paladins were physical and made reigning Southern Conference Offensive Player of the Year Eric Breitenstein fight for every yard he could come by in the opening half of play.

The Paladins would get on the board first in the contest with an impressive opening drive in the contest, as the Paladins drove 67 yards on 11 plays, with the drive being capped by a 27-yard run by Williams on an option pitch out to the right side, and he turned the corner and was not touched as Furman took the 7-0 lead with 4:17 remaining in the opening quarter of the game.

The Paladins would see the Terriers answer in the second quarter, however, as Wofford capitalized on a Hannon INT,  which eventually saw Cam Flowers tie the game,7-7, on a 10-yard scoring scamper with 11:09 remaining in the second quarter. The Flowers run capped a short seven-play, 36-yard drive to knot the score.

Furman would take the momentum of the ballgame into the halftime locker room, however, with Williams finding the end zone for a second time on the afternoon, plunging into the end zone from a yard out, as Furman seized momentum and had a 14-7 lead with only 54 seconds remaining in the opening half of play. Williams’ run culminated a 10-play, 69-yard march by the Paladin offense. That would end up being the score as the two teams entered the halftime locker room.

Wofford would come out of the locker room and completely control the third quarter, ultimately winning the football game because of the Terriers’ performance in the third stanza of the football game.

The Terriers got the ball to open the second half, and used heavy doses of Southern Conference Player of the Year Eric Breitenstein to mount an impressive drive to open the second half of play. In fact, the Terriers needed just eight plays to cover 75 yards to get within a point of the Paladins (14-13), on a 1-yard plunge by quarterback Brian Kass. Christian Reed’s PAT was no good following the Kass TD.

Blake Wylie 2012 action

 The Paladins would put their only points on the board of the second half on the ensuing drive, covering 44 yards in five plays, getting a 24-yard field goal from Ray Early to regain the lead, 17-13, with 9:24 remaining in the third quarter.

The ensuing drive for the Terriers would prove to be a pivotal on in the game. The Terriers were among the worst passing teams in the FCS coming into the matchup with the Paladins, but when the Terriers go to the air, they had the potential to make an opponent pay. That’s exactly the scenario that would play out on this early October afternoon at Gibbs Stadium, and the play might have been more costly to Furman than any other in the 2012 season.

The Terriers needed just five plays to cover the 75 yards necessary to reach the Furman end zone on the ensuing drive, with 52 of those yards coming on a single play. Kass dropped back and hit a wide open Terrier receiver, Jeff Ashley, down the seam, giving the Terriers their first and only lead of the game, 20-17, with 6:49 remaining third quarter. Furman cornerback Cortez Johnson bit on the play-action fake, and Kass spiraled a perfect pass into Ashley’s path for what proved to be the game-winning strike.

“After Wofford took the 20-17 lead, the Paladins’ suffered through an offensive possession that included holding and personal foul penalties.  Ray Early, however, got the Paladins out of a hole in a big way with the second longest punt in school history — an 82-yard effort that sailed over Wofford’s return unit before being down at the Terrier 2.

Furman’s defense forced a punt to the Paladin 39.  A pair of 13-yard runs by Jerodis Williams and a 15-yard pass from quarterback Reese Hannon to Will King moved the ball to the Wofford 20, but on a third-and-13 play from the Terrier 23, Wofford’s Mike McCrimon intercepted a Hannon pass to terminate the scoring threat.

Wofford then drove to the Furman 3 but failed to convert a fourth-and-goal play.  The Paladins responded by moving to their own 43 before punting with 5:55 remaining.

The Terriers took possession and racked up three first downs before punting to the Furman 13 with 1:19 to go.  Hannon was sacked on first down and then intercepted by Blake Wylie at the Paladin 21, effectively ending the game.-winning strike.” (From Furman Football Recap via SID).

Game 7: UTC 31, Furman 10

GREENVILLE, S.C.–Proof that the loss to Wofford was demoralizing came the following week when Furman hosted a well-rested Chattanooga team, which came to Furman having had two weeks to prepare for Furman and riding the momentum of the program’s first win over a Top 10 ranked foe since the 2000 season after picking up a 28-10 win at The Citadel.

The Paladins would hold a lead (7-3) until late in the second quarter, as the Mocs grabbed a lead they would never relinquish when quarterback Jacob Huesman found backup quarterback/wide receiver Terrell Robinson for a 38-yard scoring strike to give the Mocs a 10-7 lead with 51 seconds remaining in the opening half of play.

Chattanooga was just the better football team, and the Paladins now had the pressure firmly on them to stay alive for the FCS playoffs. At 2-4 overall and 1-2 in league play, Furman had no margin for error if it wanted to make its first postseason appearance since 2006. The Paladins had to win out.

For a UTC offense that had been struggling at times through the early portion of the schedule, it would not be readily evident on this particular afternoon in front of a sparse crowd at Paladin Stadium.

Chattanooga true freshman quarterback Jacob Huesman dazzled on the day, completing 18-of-23 passes for 171 yards and a pair of scores, while rushing for 59 yards on 22 attempts, accounting for an impressive 230 yards of total offense.

But the story of the game was the Mocs’ dominating defensive line, which featured a pair of All-Americans, in defensive ends Josh Williams and Davis Tull. It would be that tandem that would make life difficult for Paladin freshman signal-caller Reese Hannon all afternoon, sacking the Greer, S.C. native four times on the day.

But the more impressive job by the Chattanooga defense on the day came by rendering a physical ground attack virtually non-existent, holding the Paladins to a meager 39 yards rushing on the ground for the afternoon. It allowed the Mocs’ defense to hold Furman to a season low offensive total, as the Paladins mustered just 223 yards of total offense on the day. The  39 rush yards for Furman marked the program’s lowest tally since running for just 34 yards in a 24-7 loss to Virginia Tech in 2008.

The Mocs held a 369-223 advantage in total yards, as well as posting a substantial lead in time of possession, holding nearly an 18-minute edge (38:54-21:09) in time of possession.

Huesman wasn’t the only offensive weapon that would prove pivotal on the afternoon for the Mocs, as wide receiver/quarterback Terrell Robinson gave one of the better all-around performances by an opponent visiting Paladin Stadium in recent memory. Robinson completed 7-of-10 passes for 86 yards, caught eight passes for 81 yards and two scores, and rushed four times for 29 yards and a TD.

The Paladins would be led offensively by Reese Hannon, who completed 19-of-33 passes for 171 yards. All-SoCon running back Jerodis Williams managed just 49 yards rushing on eight carries.

Chattanooga would get on the board late in the opening quarter, using 17 plays to cover 54 yards and got a 29-yard field goal from Nick Pollard to take a 3-0 lead with 4:39 to play in the opening frame.

Furman would offer a response to that Chattanooga score, and the offense showed its only signs of life on the ensuing drive.

The Paladins used nine plays to cover 75 yards, and Hannon would get the Paladins into the end zone for the only time on the day, with a 1-yard plunge just three seconds into the second quarter of play.

The Mocs got a huge momentum-building score late in the half, when Huesman hooked up with Robinson for a 38-yard scoring strike just 51 seconds from halftime, giving the Mocs a huge boost and a 10-7 lead entering the halftime locker room.

Chattanooga would extend that lead in the third quarter when Huesman found Robinson again, this time from 14 yards out, as the Mocs took a 17-7 lead with 4:59 remaining in the third quarter.

Furman’s lone score in the second half would bring the Paladins back within a touchdown of the Mocs. The Paladins needed six plays to cover 45 yards to set up a 36-yard field goal, making it a 17-10 ballgame with 3:00 minutes to play in the third quarter.

But Chattanooga would put the game away with a pair of fourth quarter scores. Robinson found pay dirt for a third time in the game, running it in from six yards out to cap a seven-play, 75-yard drive to give the Mocs a 24-10 with 14:21 to play.

The Mocs’ final score of the game was set up by a Furman fumble deep in its territory at the 10-yard line. On a fourth-and-goal play, J.J. Jackson found the end zone to provide the final scoreline of 31-10, with 2:27 remaining on the game clock.

Furman had few bright spots on either side of the football in the game, but one of those superlative efforts on the defensive side of the ball was turned in by Paladin sophomore linebacker Gary Wilkins, who tallied a team-best 13 tackles in the loss. Furman also got three sacks, with all three sacks proving to be the first-career sack for DE Ira McCune, CB Reggie Thomas and FS Marcus McMorris.

The loss officially dropped Furman out of playoff contention, with a 2-5 overall mark and a 1-3 ledger in Southern Conference play.

Game 8: No. 3 Georgia Southern 38, Furman 17

GREENVILLE, S.C.–It’s a rivalry that goes back to two national title games, and it’s one that both sets of fans circle on their respective schedules prior to each season.

Georgia Southern claimed a victory in decisive fashion in Statesboro in 2011, with a 50-20 win, but for three quarters in the 2012 meeting, the Paladins held the No. 3 Eagles at bay before surrendering 21 fourth quarter points to drop a 38-17 decision to the Eagles.

After leading 7-3 at the break, Furman would be outscored 35-10 in the second half in the defeat.

The loss would mark the third in a row for the reeling Paladins, while it was the Eagles’ fifth-straight win after suffering a 23-20 loss to The Citadel in the second game of the season.  The loss also guaranteed a losing season for the second time in three seasons.

Furman was leading 10-9 after a Ray Early 48-yard field goal with 3:45 remaining in the third quarter, when the complexion of the football game would change. Zach Walker would haul in a beautifully thrown 75-yard scoring pass from Jerick McKinnon, and the Eagles opted to attempt the two-point conversion, and with the successful conversion, took a touchdown lead (17-10).

A couple of possessions later, Georgia Southern would stretch its lead to two TDs, when Jonathan Bryant took a pitch around the left corner and sprinted 42 yards for the score, giving the Eagles a 24-10 lead.

The Eagles would then get a big play from its defense to break the game wide open, as senior defensive end Dion DuBose picked up a fumble and rumbled 44 yards to set up the Eagle offense in prime position, at the Furman 5-yard line.

Dominique Swope would find the end zone from four yards out a couple of plays later, giving the Eagles a 30-10 advantage with 7:38 remaining after the missed PAT.

The Paladins would respond on the ensuing possession, as All-SoCon running back Jerodis Williams would cap what was an 8-play, 85-yard drive, with a 2-yard scoring run, making it a 30-17 game with 4:24 to play.

The Eagles would tack on a somewhat controversial score late in the football game. With just 20 seconds remaining in the game, and instead of taking a knee, the Eagles’ Swope found the end zone from a yard out, giving the Eagles a 36-17 lead.

While the Eagles could have been forgiven for scoring the touchdown, the Eagles rubbed salt in Furman’s wounds, as Georgia Southern’s Swope converted on a two-point play, rather than opting for the PAT, setting the final scoreline, at 38-17.

This set up some heated words between coaching staffs after the game, with no doubt Paladin head coach Bruce Fowler and his staff needing some answers after the final horn sounded. Georgia Southern head coach Jeff Monken did issue an apology in his post-game press conference outside the visitor’s locker room at Paladin Stadium, saying to the effect that what was done was not directed in anyway at Furman and its coaching staff, but rather poor judgement of timing in the game on his part. He admittedly told the press that he was not aware that there was only 20 seconds remaining on the game clock, and thought Furman might have enough time to mount another offensive drive.

The final statistical data showed an explosion by the Georgia Southern offense in the second half of play. After mustering just 171 yards in the opening half of play, including only 81 on the ground, the Eagles rolled up 269 second-half yards to finish the game with 440 yards of total offense, with 275 rushing yards.

The most impressive aspect of the Eagle offense, which came into the contest ranked 121st in the FCS in passing offense out of 121 FCS teams that were statistically charted, was that they connected on 6-of-10 passes for a season-high 165 yards in the win over the Paladins.

In what was a a well-rounded rushing effort by the Eagles, it was Bryant rushed for 75 yards and a TD, leading the Georgia Southern ground attack on the afternoon, while Swope contributed 67 yards and a couple of scores on 14 carries.

The Paladins finished the afternoon with 324 yards of total offense, getting another solid effort from Williams, who led the Furman offense charge with 98 rushing yards on 17 attempts. Furman true freshman quarterback Reese Hannon connected on 19-of-26 passes for 184 yards on the day.

Furman was able to hold the lead in the game for a majority of the opening half of play, thanks in large part to the play of its defense, as well as strong ground game. When fullback Ernie Cain found the end zone from a yard out with 1:50 remaining in the half, Furman capped a 7-play, 55-yard drive and took a 7-3 advantage with 1:50 remaining in the half.

Furman senior linebacker Mitch McGrath then pounced on a GSU fumble at the Furman 10 to end Georgia Southern’s scoring threat towards the end of the half, allowing the Paladins to take the four-point advantage into the halftime locker room.

Georgia Southern took the second half kickoff and covered 65 yards in 13 plays to grab a 9-7 lead on a McKinnon 1-yard scoring sneak, setting the table to the decisive final two quarters.

Game 9: Furman 31, Elon 17

ELON, N.C.–After three-straight losses, Furman headed on the SoCon road looking to break what had been a four-game losing streak–it’s longest against any SoCon foe–when it clashed with Elon in a late-season clash at Rhodes Stadium.

Like Furman, the Phoenix had been struggling, but entered the contest coming off its first SoCon win just a week earlier against Western Carolina, and riding that crest of momentum, Elon was hoping to keep its positive “mojo” going against the Paladins.

However, a Furman team, which had experienced three-straight frustrating losses, rose up and offered one of its most-dominant performances on the defensive side of the ball all season, coupled with getting a big day from the ground game on the offensive side of the football, to take its second road win of the season.

Furman’s defense finished the day with six sacks and held a potent Elon offense to just 363 yards of total offense and 17 points en route to posting a 31-17 win on Saturday afternoon at Rhodes Stadium.

The win snapped a four-game losing skid to the Phoenix, as well as snapping Furman’s three-game losing streak this season, dating back to the Paladins’ 45-24 win over Western Carolina back on Sept. 22. The win improves the Paladins to 3-6 overall on the campaign and 2-4 in league play, while Elon falls to 3-5 overall and 1-4 in SoCon play.

The 363 yards allowed by the Furman defense was the second-lowest total allowed by the Paladin defense, and the game also marked the second time in nine games this season that the Furman defense has held an opponent to less than 100 yards rushing in a game as the Furman defense limited Elon to just 80 yards on the ground.

The six sacks by the Furman defense marked the second time in Bruce Fowler era that the Paladins have recorded six quarterback hits, matching that total in a 14-7 win at Chattanooga last season. Five of those six sacks came on the last possession of the game for the Elon offense.

Not to be overlooked was the performance of Furman senior running back Jerodis Williams, who finished the afternoon rushing for 95 yards and a pair of scores on 21 rush attempts, while also hauling in a pair of passes for 11 yards in the win.

Williams entered Saturday’s contest needing just 87 yards to eclipse the 1,000-yard for the second-straight season, and with his 95 yards on Saturday, now has 1,008 rushing yards on the campaign. He becomes the first Paladin running back to rush for 1,000 yards in back-to-back campaigns since the school’s all-time leading rusher Louis Ivory went over the 1,000-yard rushing barrier in both the 2000 and ’01 campaigns.

 

With his performance on Saturday, Williams inches closer to Furman’s Top 5 all-time rushing list, having now rushed for 2,935-career yards going into the Paladins’ final two games against Appalachian State and The Citadel. Williams needs 104 yards in the final two games to surpass Larry Robinson’s (1973-76) career rushing total of 3,038 yards for fifth-place on the list.

Furman’s defense would set the tone from the outset of the game, and after Elon took the ball after winning the coin toss, the Furman defense was able to hold the Phoenix to a three-and-out, which quickly allowed Jerry Rice Award candidate Reese Hannon and the Furman offense to go to work.

Hannon, a freshman signal-caller from Greer, S.C., would turn and hand the ball to either Williams or Hank McCloud on the first seven plays of the afternoon, but on a 2nd-and-7 play from the Elon 27, he faked the hand-off to Williams and found freshman wideout Gary Robinson for a 23-yard connection off the play-action to get the Paladins inside the five-yard line.

Two plays later, Williams plunged in from a yard out to give the Paladins a 7-0 lead.

Elon would tie the game on its third possession of the day, as the Phoenix got a positive start to the drive after a 17-yard punt return by Jeremy Peterson to the Elon 41.

The Phoenix ground game would gain 50 of the team’s 80 ground yards on the day on the first five plays, with Akron transfer Karl Bostick logging most of the work, finishing with 28 of those rushing yards on three carries.

The scoring though, would be left up to Elon’s bread-and-butter, which is it’s potent passing attack, led by quarterback Thomas Wilson and Walter Payton Award candidate wide receiver Aaron Mellette, who hooked up for the final nine yards of the drive to tie the contest, 7-7, with 1:13 remaining in the opening quarter.

It would be as close as the Phoenix would get the remainder of the afternoon.

The Paladin offense would offer a swift response, mounting a 75-yard drive on the ensuing possession to take a lead they would not relinquish the rest of the way.

The Paladins converted two key third down plays in the drive with Hannon completing an 8-yard pass to junior wide receiver Ryan Culbreath on a 3rd-and-5 play to get the Paladins down to the Elon 38.

Five plays later, Hannon and the Paladins faced another third down play, with the scenario being a 3-and-7 from the Elon 24. Once again, Hannon would hook up with the reliable Culbreath for a 20-yard gain to get the Paladins inside the five for the second time on the afternoon. Williams found pay dirt for the second time on the afternoon with a 4-yard scamper with 10:16 remaining in the half to give the Paladins a 14-7 lead and cap an 11-play, 75-yard drive.

It would be the opportunism of the Paladin defense that ultimately would swing the momentum of the game in favor of the Paladins midway through the second quarter.

It looked as if Elon was once again poised to tie the football game following the Furman scoring drive having moved the ball 69 yards down to the Paladin 6-yard line.

However, on a 1st-and-goal play Bostick got the hand-off from Wilson on a stretch play to the right side, but the Paladin defense swarmed the play and knocked the ball free from the transfer running back, and it was picked up by Furman sophomore defensive back Marcus McMorris, who returned the ball 95 yards for a score, giving the Paladins a 21-7 lead with 7:48 to play until the half.

The play provided a huge momentum swing in the game. For McMorris, it was his second TD of the season, as he also had a 52-yard INT return for a score in Furman’s other Southern Conference win, which was a 45-24 decision against Western Carolina.

After Elon tacked on a 24-yard field goal by Adam Shreiner with 5:04 to play in the half to make it a 21-10 game on the Phoenix ensuing drive, the Paladins would get their biggest play on the offensive side of the football for the half courtesy of freshman fullback Ernie Cain.

Hannon connected with All-America tight end Colin Anderson for a 28-yard pickup to get the Paladins just inside Elon territory at the Phoenix 47. On the very next play, Cain took a hand-off on a trap play and ran it out the back side where the field was wide open, out-racing a couple of Elon defensive backs en route to giving Furman a 28-10 lead with 4:29 to play in the half and that would be how the teams would enter the halftime locker room.

Furman, which got the ball to start the second half, would get its only points of the second frame on a 22-yard field goal by Ray Early to give the Paladins a 31-10 lead with 8:50 remaining in the third quarter.

The Furman defense would make maybe its biggest defensive stand on the Elon’s first possession of the second half. It appeared Shriner had tacked on his second field goal of the day, cutting Furman’s lead to 18, at 31-13. However, Furman was flagged for running into the kicker, giving the Phoenix a fresh set of downs after Phoenix head coach Jason Swepson opted to take the points off the board and try and let his offense score seven.

But the Paladin defense would once again stand tall, as after the penalty, the Phoenix had the ball at the Furman 8-yard line. A pair of Tracy Coppedge runs got the Phoenix down to the three, but after Bostick rushed for no gain on 3rd-and-goal, Swepson decided to leave the fate of the drive once again in the hands of his senior quarterback in hopes of seven points.

But on fourth and goal, Wilson found tight end Chris Harris towards the right corner of the end zone, but Harris could not keep his foot inbounds, so the Paladin defense held.

Elon would tack on another score in the fourth quarter, as Wilson tossed his second scoring pass of the day to Mellette from two yards out with 9:21 to play, making it a 31-17 game.

Furman’s defense would hold strong the rest of the way and the offense was efficient, taking precious time off the clock.

On Elon’s final drive, the Paladins would amass five of their six sacks. Two Paladins finished the day with a pair of sacks, as sophomore linebacker Gary Wilkins posted a pair of sacks, while senior Ricky Lang also notched a pair of QB tackles to account for four of the Paladins’ six on the afternoon. McMorris and junior defensive end Shawn Boone rounded out the sacks total on the day for the Paladins with one apiece.

The Paladins held a 367-363 advantage in total offense, including a substantial 106-yard (186-80) advantage in rushing yards.

Furman’s Hannon finished the day connecting on 11-of-19 passes for 181 yards with an INT, with his favorite target being sophomore Gary Robinson, who hauled in three passes for a career high 80 yards. Culbreath also had three catches for 34 yards. Cain finished with a career-best 60 rush yards and a TD on just six carries.

The Paladins’ defensive efforts were led by sophomore linebacker Gary Wilkins, who finished just shy of double digits, with nine stops, with two of those being sacks. In addition to his 95-yard fumble return for a score and one sack, McMorris added a pair of tackles.

For Elon, Wilson connected on 23-of-33 passes for 283 yards and a pair of scoring tosses. His favorite target was Mellette, who hauled in 14 passes for 194 yards and two scores. Elon’s ground efforts were led by Bostick, who rushed 10 times for 44 yards.

On the defensive side of the ball, Elon was paced by linebackers Blake Thompson and Jonathan Spain, who each finished the day with 11 stops to tie for game-high honors.

The win for the Paladins means they avoid becoming the first Furman football team since 1972 to finish a season with less than three victories.

Game 10: No. 12 Appalachian State 33, Furman 28

BOONE, N.C.–With nothing to play for but pride, Furman headed to Appalachian State looking to close out the campaign with some momentum, especially heading into its final regular-season game against arch-rival The Citadel in the regular-season finale the following week at Paladin Stadium.

A win in Boone would also snap a streak of eight-straight losses, some in the span in the most harrowing of fashions, which dated back to Furman’s 20-14 win over the Mountaineers in Bobby Johnson’s third season as head coach of the Paladins back in 1996.

For Appalachian State, the scenario was simple: Beat Furman and claim a seventh Southern Conference title in the past eight seasons.

It was a scenario that seemed very unlikely just a couple weeks earlier, but after the Mountaineers pulled off a monumental 31-28 win at Georgia Southern, coupled with Samford’s 24-17 upset win over Wofford, a Mountaineer win over Furman would enable the Mountaineers to lift the Southern Conference championship trophy a 12th time since joining the league as an official member in 1972, tying Furman’s league standard of 12 conference titles for league gridiron supremacy.

Furman would be facing a Mountaineer team that had taken a beating injury-wise in recent weeks, as the Mountaineers had not had an off-week since opening camp in early August.

But it would be an ASU team motivated to lift the trophy, and that would be enough to lift the Mountaineers to a 33-28 win over upset-minded Furman, as Appalachian lifted the SoCon championship trophy and ensured a playoff invitation for an eighth-straight season. For Furman, it dropped to 3-7 on the campaign, and just 2-5 in league play with another heartbreaking defeat.

Appalachian State would get an outstanding afternoon from running back Steven Miller and wide receiver Andrew Peacock.

Miller finished the afternoon rushing for a game-high 170 yards and a TD on 25 carries, while Peacock hauled in 11 passes for a career-high 130 yards and a TD, while also tossing his first-career TD out of the “wildcat formation.”

Another storyline for the Mountaineers on the day was field goal kicker Sam Martin, who accounted for 15 of ASU’s 33 points (four FGs and three PATs) in helping the Mountaineers claim a ninth-straight win over the Paladins in Boone and claim a league crown for the seventh time in eight seasons.

Furman would be led offensively on the day by freshman quarterback Reese Hannon, who connected on 19-of-36 passes for 203 yards, with a TD and two INTs.

Meanwhile, senior running back Jerodis Williams battled for a tough 59 yards on 14 carries for the Paladins on the afternoon, while leading the Paladins’ receiving efforts with seven catches for 37 yards in the contest. Williams also had an electrifying 100-yard kickoff return for a score following an Appalachian State score to get Furman on the board for the first time on the afternoon.

Perhaps the most surprising aspect of ASU’s win over Furman was the performance of an ASU defense that had seen its share of struggles during the 2012 season, holding the Paladins to just 300 yards of total offense and only seven offensive points. In total, Appalachian State finished the contest with a 448-300 advantage in total yards in the win. On several occasions, it appeared the Mountaineers were ready to open up a big lead, holding double-digit advantages of 10-0, 17-7 and 27-14, but the opportunistic Paladins responded in both situations.

The Mountaineers would get on the board in the first, putting together an impressive 9-play, 65-yard drive which culminated with a the first of four field goals by Martin, as he connected for 27 yards out to give the Mountaineers a 3-0 lead with 11:02 remaining in the opening quarter of play.

The Mountaineers would extend their lead to 10 points late in the opening frame, as Steven Miller found the end zone from eight yards out, capping a 4-play, 25-yard drive following a Patrick Blalock forced and recovered fumble in Furman territory.

On the ensuing kickoff, however, the Paladins would get back into the game, courtesy of FCS’ top kickoff return man, Jerodis Williams, who raced 100 yards down the sideline, cutting Appalachian State’s lead to a field goal just seconds after Miller’s 8-yard jaunt for the Mountaineers.

It marked the second 100-yard kick return of the season for Williams, and marked the seventh time in program history in which the Paladins were able to take a kickoff back 100 yards for a score.

The Mountaineers were able to answer that Paladin score early in the second quarter, resorting to a bit or trickery to extend their lead back out to 10 points in the contest. On a reverse option play to the right side, wide receiver Andrew Peacock took a pitch and found tight end Drew Bailey wide open in the right corner of the end zone, giving the Mountaineers a 17-7 lead with 11:43 remaining in the half.

After the Mountaineers got the ball back on their own 16 following a punt by Ray Early, it would be the Paladin defense that would make the first of a couple of big plays on the day. Steven Miller lost a yard on the first play, as he was met in the backfield by Furman senior linebacker Matt Solomon.

Then, on the next play, the Paladins would pick up one of their five sacks on the day, as senior linebacker Mitch McGrath hit ASU quarterback Jamal Jackson, dislodging the football and sophomore linebacker Gary Wilkins recovered the football in the end zone to bring the Paladins within three (17-14) once again with 8:26 to play in the half.

Appalachian, however, would respond with 10 points of the remaining eight minutes in the opening half to take its largest lead of the game into the halftime locker room.

First, Martin would connect on the longest of his four field goals on the day, hitting a 47-yard attempt to conclude a 9-play, 45-yard drive with 5:38 remaining in the half and giving the Mountaineers a 20-14 lead.

With the football back and under three minutes to play in the opening half, the Mountaineers would get their second TD of the half, striking once again through the air and having Peacock involved in the scoring play. Jackson found junior wideout Peacock on an 18-yard connection with 24 seconds remaining in the half, extending ASU’s lead to 13 points, at 27-14. The Mountaineers impressively covered 80 yards in 2:26, using 10 plays to do so.

With the ball back to open the second half, Furman responded with its most important drive of the day, covering 75 yards in 10 plays and taking 5:32 off the game clock. The drive would be capped when Hannon found classmate wide receiver Jordan Snellings on a 10-yard strike, accounting for the Paladins’only offensive score of the day, and more importantly, bringing the Paladins within six points, at 27-21, with 9:28 remaining in the third quarter.

Just seconds later, it appeared Furman might derail Appalachian’s championship celebrations when Furman cornerback Austin Williams hit ASU wideout Tony Washington, forcing the ball free, and the ball was recovered by Paladin reserve linebacker Carl Rider, who raced 27 yards down the sideline to give the Paladins their lone lead of the day, at 28-27, with 9:10 to play in the third quarter.

That Paladin lead would last nearly four minutes, until ASU drove the football 73 yards and all the way to the Furman 1-yard line before having to settle for Martin’s third field goal of the day, with this one coming from 19 yards out and it gave the Mountaineers a 30-28 lead with 5:37 to play in the third quarter.
Just seconds later, it appeared Furman might derail Appalachian’s championship celebrations when Furman cornerback Austin Williams hit ASU wideout Tony Washington, forcing the ball free, and the ball was recovered by Paladin reserve linebacker Carl Rider, who raced 27 yards down the sideline to give the Paladins their lone lead of the day, at 28-27, with 9:10 to play in the third quarter.

That Paladin lead would last nearly four minutes, until ASU drove the football 73 yards and all the way to the Furman 1-yard line before having to settle for Martin’s third field goal of the day, with this one coming from 19 yards out and it gave the Mountaineers a 30-28 lead with 5:37 to play in the third quarter.

From there, however, it would be the Appalachian State defense that would ultimately dictate the outcome of the game. The Mountaineers would limit the Paladin offense to a meager 52 yards over the next four possessions of the game, including intercepting on the first of those four possessions, as Demetrius McCray ended the first of those four Paladin possessions by picking off a pass. On the next three offensive possessions for the Paladins, Appalachian State was able to force Furman to punt.

After another Martin field goal made it 33-28 with 6:04 remaining in the game, the Paladins would have one last opportunity late in the football game to steal a victory in the game’s waning moments.

After a 61-yard punt by Martin gave the ball back to the Paladins with 1:57 remaining, Furman drove the ball out of the shadows of its own goalposts and drove the ball all the way to the Appalachian 42-yard line with six seconds to play. However, that’s where the drama of the game would ultimately end, as Hannon’s hail-mary pass attempt on the game’s final play would preserve the win and the SoCon title for Appalachian, as senior safety Troy Sanders picked off the pass to end the game.

Game 11: The Citadel 42, Furman 20

GREENVILLE, S.C.–Furman and The Citadel have long been rivals on the Southern Conference football gridiron, with the two being the only charter members of the league’s nine gridders remaining in the league.

It marked the first meeting between the Paladins and Bulldogs in the final game of the regular-season since the annual rivals met in the regular-season finale to conclude the 1992 campaign.

The Citadel, which held a 6-4 record coming into the matchup between the two schools was still fighting to keep its name alive and in consideration for an outside shot at an at-large bid for the FCS playoffs.

The Paladins were looking to keep their streak alive of six-straight wins over the Bulldogs in Paladin Stadium, and would be looking for their fourth-straight win overall in the series.

However, the Paladins would find a season’s worth of frustrations continue to plague the team in the final game of the season, as Furman dropped a 42-20 decision to its arch-rival, marking the first loss to the Bulldogs in the friendly confines since the 1998 season.

The Citadel was certainly no slouch under eighth-year head coach Kevin Higgins, who took the Bulldogs to their third winning season in his eight years, including the Bulldogs’ second seven-win season matching the Bulldogs’ 2007 ledger, and The Citadel came into the contest as the only team in the SoCon to defeat two of the three teams that tied for the SoCon title (The Citadel defeated both Georgia Southern and Appalachian State for its first two conference wins).

The Paladins had trouble containing the Bulldogs’ triple-option ground attack on the afternoon, which rolled up 309 of its 374 yards on the game via the ground, and ended up out-gaining Furman 374-298 on the day.

Leading the potent ground attack for the Bulldogs was senior slotback Van Dyke Jones, who rushed for 74 yards and three scores, helping punctuate what was a dominating ground performance from the Bulldogs in the contest, highlighted by big plays. Jones scored on runs of 25, 14 and 7 yards to finish out that strong rushing performance.

Jones wasn’t the only one getting into the rushing act for the Bulldogs on the day, as quarterback Ben Dupree led the Bulldogs with 84 yards and a rushing TD on 12 rush attempts, while fullback Darien Robinson contributed 64 ground yards on 12 attempts.

The Paladins were bidding farewell to a couple of All-SoCon and All-America performers on the offensive side of the football, in running back/kick returner Jerodis Williams and tight end Colin Anderson.

Williams finished his final game in a Paladin Purple and White uniform by rushing for 103 yards and a TD on 18 carries, finishing his career as the school’s fifth all-time leading rusher, with 3,097 career rushing yards. Williams also led the Paladins with five catches for 29 yards in the contest.

Anderson finished out his fine career as a Paladin with three catches for 43 yards in the loss to the Bulldogs. The performance helped Anderson finish his career ranking second all-time among Furman tight ends in career receptions (90) and receiving yards (1,541), while ranking first in school history among tight ends in career receiving TDs, with 11.

Not far behind Williams in the rushing category on the day was sophomore running back Hank McCloud, who had one of his best days rushing the football in a Furman uniform, amassing 92 yards and a TD on 12 carries.

Furman employed the services of two quarterbacks on the afternoon, with both freshman Reese Hannon and senior Dakota Derrick saw action in the contest for the Paladins.

Before leaving the game with an injury just before the half, Hannon completed 6-of-10 passes for 37 yards, with an INT.

Derrick, the senior signal-caller from Conway, S.C., who began the season as the starter under center for the Paladins, completed 7-of-17 passes for 65 yards, with an INT in his final season as a Paladin quarterback.

The game between the Paladins and Bulldogs would be a tale of two halves, as the Paladins hung with the Bulldogs the entire opening half of play, trailing just 21-17 at the break, however, the second half would see The Citadel completely control the proceedings, out-gaining the Paladins 157-42 in total yards en route to out-scoring the Paladins, 21-3, in the latter half.

Things certainly started out well for the Paladins in the contest, and much like he did with a sack on the first play against Georgia Southern a couple of weeks earlier on the game’s first offensive play, it would true freshman cornerback Reggie Thomas making his presence known early on in the contest intercepting Dupree on the first play of the game to set the Paladin offense up at The Citadel 38. That Thomas INT would eventually lead to a Furman 7-0 lead after a 1-yard scoring plunge by Williams less than four minutes into the game.

The Citadel would get back into the game almost immediately, as on the ensuing kickoff, Keith Gamble returned the ball 75 yards, allowing The Citadel offense to set up shop at the Furman 25.

On the second offensive play of the afternoon, Jones sprinted 25 yards for a score for his first of three rushing TDs on the day, tying the contest, 7-7, just 18 seconds following the Furman score.

The Bulldogs would take their first lead of the day, via a Furman offensive miscue. Nick Willis stepped in front of a Hannon pass and returned it to the Furman 45-yard line, setting up the Bulldogs’ offense in good stead.

Once again, it didn’t take the Bulldogs’ offense long to capitalize on their good fortune, and Dupree made it 14-7 Bulldogs after just three offensive plays for the Bulldogs, as he scampered 45 yards around the right end on an option-keeper for the score.

Furman would score the next 10 points of the game to take its final lead of the afternoon. First, Hank McCloud found the end zone on an 8-yard run to tie the game, 14-14, concluding a 7-play, 66-yard drive with 6:53 remaining in the opening quarter. That would be the final meaningful event in what proved to be an action-packed opening quarter of football in the 92nd meeting between the two arch-rivals on a beautiful, cool late fall afternoon in Greenville. McCloud tallied 56 of Furman’s 66 yards on the scoring drive.

The Paladins would take their final lead of the contest late in the second quarter, after a drive stalled out in Citadel territory as a result of back-to-back sacks by Chris Billingslea–the final of which effectively ended Hannon’s afternoon with a hip-pointer–and forced Ray Early into the contest for a 52-yard field goal.

The Citadel would storm back just before the half, however, and begin to take control of the football game just before the break. It would be an opportunistic effort by The Citadel’s defense, which would produce a big play following a three-and-out by the offense, which forced a 52-yard punt by Cass Couey, giving the ball back over to the Paladin offense at their own 38.

The Paladins would drive the football deep into The Citadel territory looking for points just before the half, but the turnover bug would once again bite the Paladins.

With Furman in control of the football inside its own territory, Paladin win receiver fumbled the football and it was recovered by Citadel defensive back Austin Boyle at the 24, giving the Bulldogs excellent field position once again.

The Citadel would get a 10-yard run by Rickey Anderson before Jones rushed for the remaining 14 yards on the following play to give The Citadel a 21-17 lead with 31 seconds to play in the opening frame.

After a solid kickoff return, the Paladins were looking for points just before the break, however, Derrick’s long pass down the seam would be picked off by The Citadel’s Julian Baxter at his own 15, ending any scoring threat the Paladins might have mounted before the break.

The Citadel took its four-point lead (21-17) to the break.

On the opening drive of the second half of play, the Paladins would get within a point of the Bulldogs courtesy of a second Early field goal, this time from 37 yards out, to make it a 21-20 game with 7:50 to play in the third quarter.

Early’s field goal capped an impressive 13-play, 50-yard drive that took nearly half the third clock.

The Citadel would turn in the game’s most important play on the next possession, allowing the Bulldogs to take control of the football game.

Facing a fourth down situation, the Bulldogs opted to fake the punt, and Couey took off up the middle for a 18-yard gain and a first down to give the Bulldogs’ drive alive.

That play gave the Bulldogs’ offense new life, and several plays later, the Bulldogs would be celebrating a 28-20 advantage after Dalton Trevino sprinted into the end zone from 17 yards out, giving the Bulldogs a 28-20 lead with 2:14 remaining in the quarter.

Furman’s offense would struggle once again with the football back in its possession, mustering just three yards on its ensuing possession, and would be forced to hand the ball back over to the Bulldogs.

Following a Paladin punt, the Bulldogs marched 85 yards in nine plays, culminating with the lone TD pass of the afternoon for either club, as Dupree connected with physical wideout Domonic Jones on a 28-yard strike, breaking the game wide open and giving the Bulldogs a 35-20 advantage with 11:03 remaining in the game.

The final Citadel score would cap what had been a tough day and season for the Paladins, as Jones’ third TD of the day–a seven-yard scamper–would set the final scoreline (42-20) and conclude an 11-play, 57-yard drive with 2:49 remaining.

It was the final game for five defensive starters for the Paladins, as Mitch McGrath (LB), Josh Lynn (DE), Matt Solomon (LB), Nathan Wade (FS) and Colton Keig (DT) all suited it up for the final time on the defensive side of the football for the Paladins. McGrath led the Paladins with 10 tackles and half-a-tackle-for-loss. Keig contributed seven tackles and 1.5 TFL, while Solomon had 10 stops with 1.5 TFL.

 

 

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