CONWAY, S.C. -- Alex Ross passed for 245 yards and a touchdown and 24th-ranked Coastal Carolina built a two-touchdown first half lead and held off Furman, 35-28, in football action Saturday evening at Brooks Stadium.
Coastal Carolina (2-0) led 20-7 at intermission and twice answered Furman (0-2) second half touchdowns with scores of their own to earn the victory.
A 14-yard scoring strike from Reese Hannon to Ryan Culbreath with 3:54 to go pulled Furman to within a touchdown. The Paladins forced a punt and got the ball back at their own 30 with 2:47 remaining, but a third down sack by Coastal Carolina's Colton Backburn put the Paladins in a fourth-and-20 situation at the Furman 34, after which Hannon's last pass fell incomplete.
"We had some opportunities that we didn't take advantage of, especially in the first half, and those were costly," said Furman head coach Bruce Fowler. "We were in the red zone a couple of times and came away with nothing...missed a couple of kicks. In the second half we improved in some areas — defensively got some stops early and one late, and offensively we got into some rhythm running the football and throwing it, but fundamentally we have a ways to go. I thought we blocked better, particularly on the perimeter and fought really hard. We need to tackle better. We missed a lot of times with the first guy, and sometimes with the second and third guy, but it looked like we were getting more hats to the ball. That's the encouraging part. We had a lot of young guys in there. Every experience is going to help them. Having Reese back was big. I thought he showed a lot of poise."
Furman posted a 431-375 advantage in total offense, running for 240 yards and passing for 191. Hank McCloud led all rushers with 21 attempts for a career high 133 yards and a touchdown. Freshman Marcus Anderson had 13 carries for 72 yards, nearly all of which came in the second half.
Paladin sophomore quarterback Reese Hannon, who sat out Furman's season opener against Gardner-Webb with a strained oblique, accounted for all of the Paladins' passing yards, completing 17-of-31 attempts and throwing two touchdowns.
Coastal Carolina scored on its second possession of the game, covering 66 yards in 10 plays for a 5-yard touchdown strike from Alex Ross to Thomas Pauciello. Dalton Demos' two-point conversion run around left end gave the Chanticleers an 8-0 lead at the 4:44 mark of the first quarter.
Coastal Carolina needed just 22 seconds to tally again, taking advantage of a Furman fumble on the kickoff and recovery by LaDarius Hawthorne at the Furman 24. On second down Ross faked a handoff off the left side and fired a lateral to the sideline to Matt Hazel, who collected it and scampered 24 yards into the end zone.
The Paladins broke through on the ensuing possession, using three runs by McCloud to cover 26 yards and a 14-yard run by Terry Robinson to move to the Coastal 34. Two plays later Richard Feacher bolted 30 yards off the left side into the end zone. Ray Early's PAT made it 14-7.
The Chanticleers answered with a 9-play, 75-yard drive, which was aided in a big way by a generous fourth down spot for a first down at the Furman 3. On the next play Lorenzo Taliaferro covered the distance into the end zone to give CCU a 20-7 advantage at the 11:53 mark of the second quarter.
The rest of the first half proved frustrating to the Paladins, who twice drove into the red zone only to come away with no points. A missed 37-yard field goal spoiled a 52-yard drive to the Chanticleer 20, and a Jairus Hollman interception and 11-yard return to the CCU 27 failed to net any points after Early misfired on a 24-yard field goal try with 35 seconds before intermission.
Marcus McMorris' third quarter interception at the Furman 43 helped set up a 57-yard drive that featured seven consecutive runs, capped by a 2-yard scoring plunge by Hank McCloud that pulled the Paladins to within 20-14 midway through the period.
Coastal Carolina responded with its most impressive possession of the contest, covering 79 yards in 11 plays for a 1-yard scoring plunge by Ross with 1:47 to go in the third quarter. The Chanticleers' second two-point conversion of the game made it 28-14.
A pair of Hannon fourth quarter touchdown strikes — the first covering 23 yards to Gary Robinson and the second, a 14-yard connection with Culbreath — kept the Paladins within striking distance.