GREENVILLE, S.C. -- Jerodis Wiliams rushed for a career high 239 yards and two touchdowns and added a 100-yard kickoff return to power Furman past Western Carolina, 45-24, in Southern Conference football action Saturday afternoon at Paladin Stadium.
The win was the seventh straight for Furman (2-3, 1-1 SoCon) over Western Carolina (1-4, 0-3 SoCon) and ninth consecutive triumph over the Catamounts in Greenville.
Williams, who torched Western Carolina for 175 yards and a touchdown in 2011, set his new career rushing high on 18 carries, scoring on runs of 89 and two yards. He also had two kickoff returns for 131 yards, including a 100-yard bolt six minutes into the game that helped give Furman an early lead it would never relinquish. The 239-yard rushing performance was the fourth highest in school history.
Hank McCloud ran for a career high 123 yards and a touchdown to help Furman roll up 389 yards on the ground and 619 total yards — the program's highest tally since 2003.
"We did a lot of things well today, both offensively, and defensively, and executed very well at times to help give us a big win," said Furman head coach Bruce Fowler following the game. "I thought offensively we were able to do pretty much what we wanted for much of the game. Jerodis Williams was just phenomenal there after his early fumble. I don't think I recall him fumbling in a game, but I know he was pretty upset with himself, so for him to come back out with the 100-yard kickoff return the next time he touched the ball was big for him and our team."
Williams netted 42 yards on his first three carries of the game, but the Prattville, Ala., senior's 14-yard run to the Western Carolina 1-yard line on the game's opening series didn't set up a score, but rather a fumble that rolled out of the back of the end zone for a touchback.
After the Catamounts drove 74 yards in 10 plays for a Richard Sigmon 23-yard field goal, Williams took the ensuing kickoff and raced 100 yards for a touchdown six minutes into the game.
Williams' followed up his first score with an 89-yard touchdown bolt — the second longest run in Furman history — less than a minute into the second quarter and tallied again, on a 2-yard plunge, at the 6:42 mark of the period to give the Paladins a 21-3 lead.
Hank McCloud's 20-yard touchdown run around right end with 3:28 remaining in the half stretched Furman's lead to 28-3.
The two teams traded scores before intermission, with Western Carolina's Michael Vaughn tallying on a 3-yard touchdown run followed by a 45-yard field goal by Furman's Ray Early on the final play of the first half.
Furman put the game away with a pair of third quarter touchdowns. Sophomore safety Marcus McMorris stepped in front of a pass by Catamount quarterback Eddie Sullivan and returned it 52 yards to give the Paladins 38-10 lead, and later in the quarter Hannon connected with King on a 70-yard touchdown pass play over the middle to push the Paladins' advantage to 45-10.
Sullivan led Western Carolina, passing for 220 yards and a touchdown while also rushing for 104 yards on 16 carries.
Jerodis Williams' 239-yard rushing peformance against Western Carolina marked a new career high, topping his previous standard of 175 yards against the Catamounts in last year's 47-21 win in Cullowhee.
In four career games against Western Carolina, Williams rushed 73 times for 556 yards and four TDs.
Williams' performance against Western Carolina moved him ahead of Mike Glenn (1978-80, 2,446 yards) into eighth place on Furman's career rushing yards ledger. He now has 2,572 yards. Next up in seventh place is Jerome Felton (2004-07, 2,652 yards).
Williams rushed for 201 of his 239 yards in the first half, marking only the second time in Furman history a Paladin had rushed for 200 yards in a half. Louis Ivory ran for 201 yards in the second half of the Paladins' 45-10 rout of Georgia Southern in 2000 (he finished with a school record 301 yards versus the Eagles).
Williams' 239-yard effort represented the fourth highest single game rushing performance in program history and first 200-yard effort since 2000 (Louis Ivory, 207 vs. Chattanooga).
Williams' 100-yard kickoff return for a touchdown was the first KOR TD by a Paladin since Sederrik Cunningham's 96-yard return versus Georgia Southern in 2011. It was the first 100-yard kickoff return by a Paladin since William Middleton's return versus Wofford in 2006. It was also only the sixth 100-yard kickof return in the program's 107-season history.
Williams' 89-yard touchdown run versus Western Carolina was the second longest rush from scrimmage in Furman history (93, Russ Sutton vs. Presbyterian, 1951).
Williams tallied 370 all-purpose yards versus Western Carolina (239 rushing, 131 kickoff returns)
Hank McCloud's 123-yard rushing performance topped his previous career high of 78 yards recorded last week in Furman's 31-21 win over Presbyterian.
Reese Hannon notched his fourth consecutive 200-yard passing performance, tying him with Chris Forcier (2011) for the second longest such streak in Furman history. Billy Napier topped the 200-yard plateau in the first five games of the 2002 season. Hannon's 2012 season stats: 71-of-111, 937 yards, 6 touchdowns, 1 interception.
Will King's five reception, 143-yard receiving performance represented a new career high.
Furman's 619 yards in total offense was the most by a Paladin squad since 2003 (635 vs. Chattanooga) and the 11th time in program history Furman has topped 600 yards total offense in a game.
Marcus McMorris' 52-yard interception return for a score was the first by a Paladin since 2010 when Ryan Steed returned a pickoff 63 yards against Chattanooga.