GREENVILLE, S.C. -- Jerodis Williams rushed for 155 yards and two touchdowns to power Furman to a 26-21 Southern Conference victory over Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) fourth-ranked Wofford in Paladin Stadium Saturday afternoon in the 85th clash between the state's oldest football rivals.
The win marked the second straight triumph for Furman (4-3, 3-2) over Wofford (5-2, 3-1 SoCon) in Greenville and ninth victory in the last 11 clashes with the Terriers in Paladin Stadium.
Williams, a junior from Prattville, Ala., and the SoCon's second leading rusher entering the contest, ran 22 times and scored on runs of one and four yards to pace the Paladins. After Wofford's Eric Breitenstein's 2-yard touchdown plunge with 4:47 remaining cut Furman's lead to 26-21, Williams ran five times for 51 yards on the Paladins' final possession to effectively preserve the victory.
"It was a good team win," said first year Furman head coach Bruce Fowler, who directed the program to the victory over its highest ranked opponent since a 29-22 triumph over second-ranked Georgia Southern in 2004. "It was a physical game, and we were challenged on both sides of the football; but I thought we responded and were able to run it right at them. Our philosophy from day one is you have to run the football and defend the run to win, and we did that well enough today."
Furman ran for 208 yards and three touchdowns against a Wofford defense that entered the game yielding just 112.7 yards per game on the ground. The Paladins' defense also proved effective enough against a Terrier ground game, surrendering 284 rushing yards to a Wofford unit that came into the contest averaging 353 yards per outing, the second highest mark in FCS.
Furman, which never trailed in the contest, jumped on top on its first possession by moving 70 yards in 10 plays for Williams' first score, which covered four yards on a toss sweep around right end at the 10:25 mark.
Wofford tied the game on a Donavan Johnson 1-yard run with 4:17 to go in the first quarter.
The Paladins took advantage of field position to register their second score, opening a drive at their own 49 following a 36-yard Wofford punt early in the second quarter. On the possession's first play, quarterback Chris Forcier connected with tight end Colin Anderson on a 30-yard pass to the Wofford 21, and six plays later Williams crossed the goal line with a 1-yard scoring plunge for a 13-7 lead.
The Paladins preserved the advantage when Ryan Steed intercepted a pass in the end zone of the half's final play.
Furman's defense stopped Wofford on a fourth-and-three play at the Paladin 35 to open the third quarter, after which the Paladins responded with an 8-play, 65-yard scoring drive. A 21-yard Forcier completion to Anderson and 26-yard hook-up with Tyler Maples to the Wofford 17 keyed the march, which culminated with Forcier's 2-yard strike to Anderson at the 6:28 mark of the third period.
The Paladins' failed to convert the PAT, their second miss of the game, but led 19-7.
A Greg Worthy interception at the Paladin 9-yard line two minutes later halted a Wofford scoring threat, but the Terriers cashed in on their next possession by moving 58 yards in 11 plays for a Breitenstein 5-yard scoring run less than two minutes into the fourth quarter.
Using a Sederrik Cunningham 38-yard kickoff return, the Paladins turned to their ground game to take control of the contest, running eight consecutive times to cover 48 yards. Tersoo Uhaa's 3-yard touchdown run with 8:59 to go put the Paladins up 26-14.
Wofford countered with a 12-play, 80-yard drive to make it 26-21 on Breitenstein's second scoring run of the game with 4:47 remaining, but 19 and 22-yard runs by Williams on Furman's final possession helped the Paladins grind the clock and effectively secure the decision.
Wofford was led by James Zotto and Mike Niam with 12 tackles apiece. Breitenstein topped the Terriers offensively with 24 rushes for 129 yards and two scores.
The victory over Wofford marked Furman's 150th win in Paladin Stadium (150-40-1) in 31 seasons and improved the Paladins to 12-1 in their last 13 homecoming games.
Jerodis Williams' 155-yard rushing performance was his second highest tally of the season, trailing only his 175-yard outing against Western Carolina, and fourth 100-yard outing of the campaign. He now has 778 yards on the season through seven games (111.4 ypg). The last Paladin to rush for 1,000 yards in a season was Hindley Brigham (1,042 yards, 2003).
Tersoo Uhaa's fourth quarter touchdown was the 30th rushing touchdown of his career. With 216 points, he now ranks 10th in Furman history in scoring, surpassing Jim Richter (210 points, 1992-95).
Ryan Steed's second quarter interception was his first of the season and 11th of his career. He moves into a 10th place tie in school history with three players: Mark Gordon (1975-76), John Keith (1996-99), Steve Squire (1983-86).
Quarterback Chris Forcier registered his 17th passing touchdown of the season today, which moved him alone into sixth place for most TD passes in a season. The record is 22 held by Ingle Martin (2004).
Tight End Colin Anderson's 2-yard touchdown catch versus Wofford extended to five his string of consecutive games with a touchdown catch. Anderson also moved into a tie with Brette Simmons (1974-78) for most touchdown catches by a Furman tight end with 10.
Junior bandit Mitch McGrath's 13 tackles against Wofford marked a new career high.
With 13 tackles against Wofford, senior linebacker Kadarron Anderson upped his career tackle tally to 342, vaulting him from 18th to 15th on Furman's career ledger.