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Furman To Face 11th-Ranked Clemson Saturday

Ryan Culbreath
Ryan Culbreath

Furman vs. Clemson Game Notes & Stats (PDF)

GREENVILLE, S.C. -- Stung by a 47-45 triple overtime loss to Coastal Carolina, the Furman Paladins face a tremendous challenge this Saturday when they make the short, 35-mile trip to Clemson to take on the nationally 11th-ranked Tigers in the renewal of one of the state's oldest football rivalries.  Kickoff for the regional sports network televised game is set for 3:00 p.m. at Memorial Stadium.

In addition to being televised, the contest will be broadcast over Furman Sports Network Greenville flagship station WOLT-FM 103.3, Upstate affiliate WGOG-FM 96.3, as well as stadium transmitter at FM 105.9. Audio will be presented online by StretchAudio through Furman All-Access at www.furmanpaladins.com.  Live stats will also be provided through www.furmanpaladins.com and in-game twitter updates available at twitter.com/FurmanPaladins

Furman (0-2) will need a victory over Clemson (2-0) to avoid its first 0-3 start to a season since 1979.  The Paladins, who dropped their final two games a year ago, and have opened the 2012 campaign with losses to both Samford (24-21) and Coastal Carolina, last suffered a five-game losing skid in 1998.

The Tigers, ranked 11th this week by the Associated Press and USA Today Coaches Polls, opened the season with a 26-19 win over Auburn and knocked off Ball State, 52-27, last Saturday.

Furman was Clemson's first football opponent when the two schools met in Greenville on Oct. 31, 1896, and the Tigers hold a commanding 41-10-4 series advantage on the strength of a 29-game series winning streak.  Furman registered its last win over Clemson in 1936 and is just 1-24 all-time in Clemson.

Saturday's contest will feature a new starting quarterback for the Paladins in true freshman Reese Hannon, who came off the bench against Coastal Carolina following an injury to starting Paladin signal caller Dakota Derrick and proceeded to pass for 255 yards and four touchdowns — all in the second half and in overtime.

Appearing his first collegiate game, the a 6-foot-1, 192-pound Greer, S.C., product completed 22-of-35 passes and threw scoring strikes covering 10, 21, 22, and 25 yards while directing Furman to touchdowns on its final six possessions.  He also converted all five fourth down conversions against the Chanticleers.

With the Paladins trailing 22-12 with 4:12 remaining in the game, Hannon engineered an 11-play, 67-yard scoring drive that cut the lead to 22-18 with just under two minutes to go.  After Furman recovered the onside kick, he directed the offense on a 9-play, 50-yard touchdown march that gave the Paladins a 25-22 lead with 40 seconds remaining in regulation.

In the first overtime Hannon connected on a 25-yard scoring toss to tie the game at 32-32 and directed the Paladins to touchdowns in both the second and third overtime periods.

Named SoCon Freshman of the Week, he will be the first true freshman quarterback to start a game for Furman since 1997.

To assist Hannon in his new role, the Paladins will try to utilize the ability of  senior running back Jerodis Williams (35 rushes, 183 yds., 2 TD in '12), who heads into the Clemson game ranked ninth in program history in rushing (2,110 yards).  In the Paladins' 2011 season finale versus Florida, Williams ran 19 times for 133 yards and two touchdowns, including a 77-yard scoring run that pulled Furman to within 37-32 at the end of three quarters in an eventual 54-32 Gator win.

Hannon will also look to engage Paladin senior All-American tight end Colin Anderson (4 rec., 71 yds. in  '12), as well as wide receivers Will King (13 rec., 205 yds., 2 TDs in '12) and Ryan Culbreath (9 rec., 131 yds., 2 TDs in '12).

Defensively the Paladins are led by linebackers Matt Solomon (32 tackles in '12), Gary Wilkins (22 tackles in '12), and Mitch McGrath (20 tackles, sack, INT in '12).

Furman's secondary will have its hands full against Clemson as evidenced by the 67.2 completion percentage the Paladins have yielded through two games.  Coastal Carolina found the mark on 20-of-27 pass attempts for 292 yards and two scores in last Saturday's game.