ELON, N.C. -- Jerodis Williams rushed for 95 yards and two touchdowns and Furman's defense delivered a school record long fumble return along with seven sacks to power the Paladins to a 31-17 Southern Conference victory over host Elon Saturday afternoon at Rhodes Stadium.
Williams, whose 95 yards gave him 1,008 yards rushing on the season and his second straight 1,000-yard campaign, scored on runs of 1 and 4 yards in the first half to help Furman (3-6, 2-4 SoCon) snap a three-game losing streak and four-game series slide to Elon (3-5, 1-4 SoCon).
Furman's defense also contributed in a big way with a Marcus McMorris 95-yard fumble return for a touchdown and a seven-sack performance, the highest tally by a Paladin defensive unit in a game since the 2001 season.
"I thought the way we played today and the result were testaments to our players, particularly our seniors, and our coaches, "said Furman head coach Bruce Fowler. "Things haven't been going great, but our guys have shown a lot of perseverance and have hung in there, and today it effort paid off. We did some things defensively that were really good for us and helped us get some pressure on them with the sacks."
Furman grabbed a 7-0 lead with an 11-play, 70-yard drive on its first possession that ended with a Williams 1-yard scoring plunge.
After Elon knotted it a 7-7, the Paladins went up 14-7 on a Williams' second scoring run of the game, a 4-yard burst off the right side at 10:16 of the second quarter.
The Phoenix used a 53-yard pass from quarterback Thomas Wilson to Aaron Mellette to move into position to tie the game, but running back Karl Bostick's fumble at the Furman 5-yard line was scooped up by McMorris, who raced 95 yards the other way into the end zone to stretch the Paladins' lead to 21-7. The fumble return bested the program's previous long return of 94 yards by Kevin Quinlan versus North Carolina in 1980.
Elon threatened again on its next possession, advancing to the Furman 8 before having to settle for an Adam Shreiner 24-yard field goal to make it 21-10.
The Paladins responded in quick fashion, getting a 28-yard pass completion from Reese Hannon to tight end Colin Anderson to the Elon 47. Then, on the next play, fullback Ernie Cain took an inside handoff and raced 47 yards into the end zone for a 28-10 advantage with 4:29 to go in the first half.
Furman opened the second half with an 14-play, 71-yard drive that netted a Ray Early 24-yard field goal and 31-10 lead.
The Phoenix knocked on the door on their first possession of the second half but again came away empty when Wilson's fourth-and-goal pass from the 3-yard line was collected by Doug Warrick outside the goal line pylon.
Furman appeared set to give the ball right back to the Phoenix after two plays and a penalty put the Paladins at their own 2, but on third-and-11 Hannon let fly with a deep sideline pass that Gary Robinson snagged for a 41-yard gain to the Paladin 43.
Elon later forced a punt and finally cut into Furman's lead with a 2-yard connection from Wilson to Mellette with 9:21 remaining in the game.
From that point, however, the Paladin defense slammed the door. On the Phoenix's final possession, the Paladins combined to sack Wilson five times, with defensive end Ricky Lang and linebacker Gary Wilkins collecting two takedowns apiece, and Shawn Boone registered the other.
Furman, which took over possession on downs at Elon's 24 with 2:36 to go, ended the game by taking a knee at the Phoenix 9-yard line.
Williams' 95-yard rushing effort headlined a Paladin ground game that netted 186 yards and three scores. Hannon completed 11-of-19 passes for 181 yards and an interception.
Wilson threw for 283 yards and two scores, connecting on 23-of-33 pass attempts. Mellette finished with 14 receptions for 194 yards and both scores.
The Paladins managed a 367-363 advantage in total offense.
Gary Wilkins led Furman with nine tackles, two of which were sacks.
In rushing for 95 yards against Elon, Jerodis Williams topped the 1,000-yard plateau (1,008) for the second straight year. He is the first Paladin to record back-to-back 1,000-yard rushing campaigns since Louis Ivory ran for 2,079 yards in 2000 and 1,492 yards in 2001. Williams now has 2,935 career rushing yards, the sixth highest total in Furman history.
Tight end Colin Anderson's 28-yard reception against Elon extended his consecutive games w/reception streak to 22.
Furman's seven quarterback sacks against Elon were the most by the Paladins since 2001 when the Paladins notched nine takedowns in a 34-17 playoff win over Lehigh. The seven sacks were the fourth highest single game tally in program history.
Furman now has 20 sacks on the season.
Sophomore Gary Robinson earned the start at flanker versus Elon in place of injured senior Will King.
Sophomore Grayson Weber earned his second straight start at right tackle, in place of Chares Emert, who again got the starting nod at left tackle in place of injured All-SoCon performer Dakota Dozier.