BOILING SPRINGS, N.C. -- Juanne Blount rushed for 158 yards and scored a pair of third quarter touchdowns to lead Gardner-Webb to a 28-21 victory over Furman in the season opener for both teams Saturday evening at Spangler Stadium.
After Furman quarterback Dillon Woodruff scored on a 1-yard sneak to give the Paladins a 21-7 lead two minutes into the second half, the Bulldogs answered with 21 straight points, including Blount third quarter scoring bursts from 1 and 4 yards and a 5-yard touchdown strike from Lucas Beatty to Kenny Cook with 9:49 to go in the contest.
Gardner-Webb (1-0) secured the win by limiting Furman (0-1) to just 43 yards in total offense over the game's final two quarters.
"Gardner-Webb deserved to win the game," said head coach Bruce Fowler. "I thought they looked better conditioned than we were. We came out (in the second half), got a quick score, and it looked like it was going our way, but we gave up a big third down play and the momentum changed. When it came down to the time the game was on the line and you have to finish, they finished a whole lot better than we did...bottom line."
The Bulldogs ran 82 plays and registered 434 yards while the Paladins managed just 43 snaps and 213 total yards in the contest.
Furman grabbed a 14-7 halftime lead after brothers Terry and Gary Robinson found the end zone for the Paladins. Terry, a sophomore quarterback, took an option keeper 24 yards to help stake Furman to a 7-0 lead.
After Gardner-Webb tied it at 7-7, Woodruff threaded the Bulldog defense on a 70-yard hookup with Gary Robinson to make it 14-7 two minutes before intermission.
The momentum appeared to carry over into the second half for the Paladins, who were awarded the football at the Gardner-Webb 1 after Bulldog punter Jordan Day kicked the ball out of the end zone following a high snap from center. Two plays later Woodruff bulled his way into the zone for the score ana 21-7 advantage.
The Bulldogs bounced back on their next possession, using a 49-yard completion from Beatty to Deonte Swinton to the Furman 35. Four plays later Blount scored on a 4-yard run to ignite the comeback.
Woodruff, subbing for injured Paladin starting quarterback Reese Hannon, became the first true freshman to start a season opener for Furman since 1956. He connected on 7-of-16 passes for 123 yards and a touchdown but was intercepted twice.
Sophomore linebacker Cory Magwood, making his first career start, led all tacklers with 18 stops.
Furman plays at Coastal Carolina next Saturday in a 6:00 p.m. game.