GREENVILLE, S.C. -- Clearing hurdles the last five weeks en route to a Southern Conference championship and the program's first Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) playoff win since 2005, Furman faces a raised bar this Saturday when it travels to Fargo, North Dakota, to take on top-ranked and two-time defending national champion North Dakota State in a second round matchup.
Kickoff for the ESPN3/GamePlan televised contest at the 18,700-seat sold-out Fargodome, is set for 3:30 p.m. ET (2:30 CT) with Shawn Kenney calling the play-by-play and former North Carolina head coach John Bunting delivering color analysis.
The radio broadcast will be presented by the Furman Sports Network featuring flagship station WGOG-FM 96.3 in Seneca and Greenville's FoxSports AM 1440. In addition, fans can access the game broadcast via stadium transmitter at FM 105.9 and audio stream through Stretch Internet at FurmanPaladins.com. Dan Scott, the "Voice of the Paladins," will call the play-by-play and be joined by Corey Stewart with color commentary.
Fans can also get in-game twitter updates by following @FurmanPaladins
The winner of the Furman-North Dakota State game will play the winner of the Montana-Coastal Carolina contest on Dec. 13 or 14, at a site to be determined.
The Paladins (8-5, 6-2 SoCon) will take a five-game winning streak into Saturday's game against the Bison (11-0, 8-0 MVFC), winners of the last three Missouri Valley Football Conference crowns and owners of an FCS best 20-game winning streak. Furman downed South Carolina State, 30-20, on Saturday in FCS first round playoff action in Orangeburg, S.C., while North Dakota State enjoyed a first round bye as the tournament's No. 1 seed.
This year marks Furman's 16th appearance in the FCS playoffs, which ranks fifth among participating schools. The Paladins' 18 playoff victories (18-14) are the eighth-most in FCS history and include a 17-12 triumph over Georgia Southern in the 1988 national championship game in Pocatello, Idaho. Furman has played in three FCS national championship games, finishing as national runner-up in 1985 (Georgia Southern) and 2001 (Montana).
North Dakota State is making its fourth consecutive playoff appearance and owns a 10-1 record in the postseason, including a perfect 7-0 slate at home. The Bison are a perfect 4-0 versus SoCon teams, most recently having ousted both Wofford (14-7) and Georgia Southern (23-20) in successive games last year.
Furman's only clash with a current MVFC member school came in 1989 with a 42-23 win over a Youngstown State squad coached by Jim Tressel.
The Paladins face a senior-laden, talented Bison squad led by all-everything senior quarterback Brock Jensen, who has passed for 7,881 yards and rushed for 1,029 yards in his career while engineering NDSU to 44 wins as the starting signal caller. He is surrounded by an equally effective cast, including senior running back Sam Ojuri (1,002 yards in '13), junior running back John Crockett (933 yards), and junior wide receiver Zach Vraa (874 yards, 11 TDs).
Blessed with a veteran offensive line the Bison have proven masters at ball control and enter the game ranked first in the nation in time of possession (34:16) and third down conversion rate (53.7 percent).
Equally impressive is North Dakota State's defense, which tops the FCS in scoring defense (11.1 ppg) and is the owner of three shutouts this year. Senior All-America cornerback Marcus Williams counts 20 career interceptions, six of which have been returned for touchdowns.
Third-year head coach Bruce Fowler's Paladins will counter with a squad that owes its late season run of success to solid overall team play and improved execution more than dominant performance in any one area — the lone exception being turnover margin. In that arena Furman has excelled, going from last in the SoCon a year ago to first (7th nationally) this year. Over the last seven games (6-1), the Paladins have committed only seven turnovers while feasting on 20 miscues by the opposition, including four interceptions that were returned for touchdowns.
Furman has also played solid defense in the red zone, limiting opponents to points on 67.3 percent of all incursions.
The return of sophomore quarterback Reese Hannon to the lineup has been a major catalyst in the Paladins' run to a SoCon record 13th championship and playoff appearance. Sidelined for three of Furman's first six games due to injury, during which time the Paladins went 2-4, Hannon has returned to start the last seven contests and has passed for 1,523 yards and seven touchdowns. Two weeks ago the Greer, S.C., product threw for a career high 326 yards and a touchdown in a 27-14, league title clinching win over Wofford.
Junior All-SoCon running back Hank McCloud became Furman's third consecutive and 15th 1,000-yard rusher in the victory over Wofford. He has benefitted from the solid work of Paladin senior All-America tackle Dakota Dozier, who last week was accorded the SoCon's Jacobs Blocking Award.
The emergence of redshirt freshman wide receiver Andrej Suttles (47 rec., 650 yds., 3 TDs) and steady play of senior wideout Ryan Culbreath (34 rec., 433 yds., 4 TDs) have helped the Paladins overcome the mid-season loss of the team's top receiver, junior Gary Robinson (24 rec., 351 yds., 2 TDs.), to injury.
Furman's defense, which sports only two seniors, has made steady progress this season and been the major factor in the squad's improvement over last year's three-win campaign.
All-SoCon defensive end Gary Wilkins (74 tackles, 13 TFL, 5.5 sacks) headlines a solid, athletic Paladin front four. The linebacking corps features sophomore Carl Rider (125 tackles) and junior Marcus McMorris (104 tackles), whose Sports Network National Defensive Player of the Week performance in a 35-17 win over Samford (11 tackles, sack, forced fumble, fumble recovery, 89-yard interception return) put the Paladins in position for their title run. Senior Greg Worthy (125 tackles), a veteran of 46 games and 39 starts, leads a Paladin secondary that also includes, Jairus Hollman (105 tackles, 11.5 TFL) the playmaking All-SoCon sophomore who registered a 34-yard "pick-six" and school record 90-yard punt return for a touchdown against South Carolina State.
The Paladins boast one of the best three-way specialists in FCS in senior All-SoCon performer Ray Early, a two-time national special teams player of the week selection who has converted 20 of his last 22 field goal attempts, averaged 43.4 yards on 61 punts, and registered 38 touchbacks on 68 kickoffs this fall.
NOTING THE PALADINS
SETTING THE SCENE
The surprise team of the Southern Conference in 2013 and 30-20 road winner over South Carolina State in NCAA Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) first round playoff action on Saturday, the SoCon champion Furman Paladins (8-5, 6-2 SoCon) travel to Fargo, North Dakota, to take on the No. 1 seed, two-time defending national champion, and three-time defending Missouri Valley Football Conference champion North Dakota State Bison (11-0, 8-0 MVFC) this Saturday in second round playoff action. Kickoff for the ESPN3 televised game at the Fargodome is set for 3:30 p.m. ET.
The winner of the Furman-North Dakota State game will advance into the quarterfinal round and play the winner of the Montana-Coastal Carolina contest on Friday, Dec. 13 or Saturday, Dec. 14 at a site to be determined.
NDSU EARNS FIRST ROUND BYE
North Dakota State was among eight teams to earn a Nov. 30 first round bye by virtue of its No. 1 seed in the 24-team playoff field. The Bison, who shut out South Dakota, 42-0, on Nov. 23, own a 20-game overall winning streak — the longest active run of success in FCS.
16 AND COUNTING
2013 marks Furman's 16th appearance in the FCS playoffs and first under third-year head coach Bruce Fowler. The Paladins sport a 18-14 playoff record (.563)and in 1988 became the first SoCon team — and first private school — to win the FCS championship by defeating Georgia Southern, 17-12, in Pocatello, Idaho, to complete a 13-2 season.
APPEARANCES, WINS AMONG FCS LEADERS
Furman's 16 playoff appearances rank fifth all-time among FCS schools. The Paladins' 18 playoff victories are the eighth most in FCS history.
PALADINS VS. NO. 1
Furman is 1-2 versus No. 1-ranked teams in FCS playoff action, having posted a win over Idaho (1988, 38-7) and losses to Marshall (1996, 54-0) and Montana (2001, 13-6) — the latter coming in the national championship game in Chattanooga, Tenn.
Saturday's game at North Dakota State will mark Furman's fifth consecutive FCS road playoff contest. Following a 14-12 home playoff win over Nicholls State in 2005, the Paladins played at both Richmond (24-20 win) and Appalachian State (29-23 loss), then a year later traveled to Montana State (31-13 loss). The 30-20 triumph over South Carolina State last Saturday in Orangeburg evened the Paladins' road playoff record at 5-5.
In 2001 Furman snapped Georgia Southern's 39-game home winning streak and handed the Eagles their first ever home playoff loss (27-0) with a 24-17 win in Statesboro. Furman's defensive coordinator that year was Bruce Fowler.
REMEMBER JIM TRESSEL?
Furman has only faced one current member of the Missouri Valley Football Conference in the playoffs — that being Youngstown State in 1989. The Paladins beat the Penguins, at the time coached by Jim Tressel, 42-23, in Paladin Stadium.
HOLLMAN MAKES HISTORY
Sophomore defensive back Jairus Hollman keyed Furman's 30-20 first round playoff victory over South Carolina State on Saturday with a school record 90-yard punt return for a touchdown and 34-yard interception return for a score. The 90-yard return, the first by a Paladin since 2007 (R.J. Webb, 63 yards vs. Coastal Carolina), eclipsed the previous standard of 88 yards by Vince Perone, Jr., vs. East Tennessee State in 1973, and the 34-yard interception run back was Furman's fourth "pick-six" of the season.
SKOGEN STEPS UP
Sophomore running back Tanner Skogen, who entered the South Carolina State game with just 56 career rushing yards, ran 13 times for a career high 116 yards against the Bulldogs — all of it coming in the second half after starter Hank McCloud was banged up and forced to leave the game, and with backup Marcus Anderson also on the shelf. Skogen, whose 53-yard third quarter burst set up a touchdown, also figured into special teams, with two kickoff returns for 39 yards. Prior to Saturday his biggest contribution had come in the form of pair of halfback passes for touchdowns: 75 yards vs. Georgia Southern (16-14 win) & 46 yards vs. Samford (35-17 win).
DIDN'T SEE IT COMING
A preseason No. 7 pick in a pair of SoCon polls, Furman, which owned a 2-4 overall record and 1-2 league mark on Oct. 12, came off the deck to claim a share of the SoCon crown and league's automatic berth into the playoffs by winning its last five SoCon games, including triumphs over Appalachian State (27-10), Georgia Southern (16-14), Samford ( 35-17), Western Carolina (32-20), and Wofford (27-14).
Furman's lone defeat over its final six regular season games was to 12th-ranked LSU, whom the Paladins trailed 20-16 at halftime before falling 48-16.
CHAMPIONSHIPS ARE WON OVER EIGHT GAMES, NOT ONE
Furman shared the 2013 SoCon regular season championship with Samford and Chattanooga but won the three-way tiebreaker for the league's automatic berth to the playoffs by virtue of its aggregate 4-0 record versus fourth place teams Wofford, Citadel, Georgia Southern, and Appalachian State. Samford and Chattanooga, meanwhile, went 1-3 versus the aforementioned teams.
NOBODY'S WON MORE
The 2013 Southern Conference championship is Furman's 13th (1978, '80, '81, '82, '83, '85, '88, '89, '90, '99, '01, '04, '13) — the most by any school in SoCon history (formed in 1921).
Head coach Bruce Fowler has taken part in 22 of Furman's 32 playoff games — exclusively as an assistant coach until this season. He was on staff for Furman playoff appearances in 1985, '86, '88, '89, '90, '96, '99, '00, and '01, during which time the Paladins compiled a 13-8 record (.619), won a national championship ('88) and twice finished as national runner-up (1985 & '01).
BRUCE KNOWS FURMAN
As a player (1977-80), assistant coach (1984-10), and head coach (2011-present) in the collegiate ranks, Bruce Fowler ('81) has registered 25 of his 33 seasons of coaching service at Furman, his alma mater.
SETTING THE STANDARD
The Southern Conference sports the most wins (100) and highest winning percentage (.615) in the postseason among all FCS conferences.
WE WIN...AND GRADUATE
Furman is the only school in the remaining 16-team FCS playoff field that ranks among the Top 10 Division I football programs (FBS & FCS) in NCAA Graduation Success Rate with a 95 percent rate, good for 10th.
Bruce Fowler was named Wallace Wade SoCon Coach of the Year by vote of league media, thus becoming the eighth Furman head coach to accorded the honor and first since 2004 (Bobby Lamb).
HE'S A GOOD ONE
Furman senior All-America defensive tackle Dakota Dozier captured the SoCon's 2013 Jacobs Blocking Award, the 14th Paladin — and first since Joel Bell (2008) — to capture the award, which has been dominated by Furman over the years.
A total of 11 Furman Paladins were named to two All-Southern Conference squads following separate balloting by league head coaches and media. To see the complete list, click here
BIG FACTOR IN WINNING FOOTBALL GAMES
Last year Furman finished last in the SoCon in turnover margin (-0.63) with a league low 13 takeaways compared to 20 turnovers. Thirteen games into the 2013 campaign the Paladins have reversed course and now top the SoCon and rank seventh in FCS in turnover margin (+1.00), having gained 29 turnovers while losing possession 16 times. Over the last seven games, during which time the Paladins have gone 6-1, Furman's turnover margin is +1.85 (20 gained, 7 lost).
NO YOU DON'T
In addition to its stellar work in hanging on to the football and forcing opponent turnovers, Furman has been a very efficient team in the red zone, both offensively and defensively, in 2013. The Paladins lead the SoCon in red zone offense (84.0 percent), having converted 31-of-37 opportunities, included in which was the knee the Paladins' took at the South Carolina State 3-yard line on the final play in Saturday's 30-20 win. Defensively, Furman has limited the opposition to a 67.3 percent scoring rate (35-of-52) inside the red zone, which tops the SoCon and ranks sixth nationally, and includes four interceptions, three turnovers on downs, and two fumbles.
SECOND HALF IMPROVEMENT
After getting doubled up, 206-103, on the scoreboard in the second half of games last year, Furman has bounced back to outscore the opposition 152-136 over the final two quarters this fall. That included a 57-15 second half margin posted against five opponents in Paladin Stadium, among which were three second half shutouts (vs. Presbyterian, Elon and Wofford). Appalachian State tallied a lone touchdown, essentially in garbage time (3:01 remaining), after being down 27-3. Samford was the only other foe to score on Furman in the second half at home this fall. The Paladins went 4-1 at home in 2013 after suffering through a 1-4 home slate in 2012.
A HEALTHY HANNON MAKES A DIFFERENCE
While a huge positive turnover ratio and efficient work in the red zone have been huge factors in Furman's late season surge, the return to health and steady play provided by starting quarterback Reese Hannon has also played big role in the Paladins' strong stretch run. Forced to sit out the season opener against Gardner-Webb (28-21 loss) and sidelined for the Elon (28-25 loss) and Chattanooga (31-9) games after sustaining ankle and knee injury late in the second half against The Citadel (24-17 win), Hannon returned to the field against Appalachian State (27-10 win) on Oct. 19 and has been the Paladins' primary signal caller over the last seven games (6-1). In the regular season finale against Wofford he passed for a career best 326 yards (23-for-37, 1 TD). Though he threw for a season low 67 yards against South Carolina State, he gave Furman its first lead with a 50-yard scoring strike to Ryan Culbreath and later scored what proved to be the game winning points with a 1-yard touchdown plunge on fourth down.
MCLCOUD GIVES FURMAN THIRD STRAIGHT 1,000-YARD RUSHER
In rushing 20 times for 78 yards and a touchdown against Wofford in the regular seaons finale, junior running back Hank McCloud posted the third consecutive 1,000-yard rushing season by a Paladin and became the 15th 1,000-yard rusher in Furman history. McCloud's milestone followed back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons by Jerodis Williams, who ran 1,055 yards in 2011 and 1,170 yards last season. Furman has produced 15 1,000-yard rushers in its history.
Furman has returned interceptions for touchdowns in four of its last seven games. The run of "pick-sixes" began versus Appalachian State (Oct. 19) when junior defensive end Gary Wilkins stepped in front of a pass and ran it back 98 yards for a touchdown in a 27-10 win over the Mountaineers. The following week at LSU (Oct. 26), sophomore cornerback Reggie Thomas returned a 74-yard pickoff for a score to give the Paladins a 7-0 lead over the 12th-ranked Tigers, and versus Samford (Nov. 9) Marcus McMorris collected a pass at the Paladin 11-yard line and ran it back 89 yards to seal the Paladins' 35-17 victory. This past Saturday at South Carolina State, Jairus Hollman registered the fourth interception return for a score when he covered 34 yards following a pickoff. The four pick-sixes are the most ever in a season by the Paladins, and three of the four rank among the top 15 interception returns in program history.
SUTTLES IN THE RECORD BOOK
Redshirt freshman wide receiver Andrej Suttles continued his rapid late season ascent in the Paladins' 27-14 victory over Wofford on Nov. 23 by catching a season high nine passes for another season best 146 yards and a touchdown. Thrust onto center stage after the Paladins' top receiver, junior Gary Robinson (24 rec., 351 yds., 2 TDs), sustained a fractured ankle very early in Furman's 27-10 win over Appalachian State (Oct. 19), Suttles has given the Paladin receiving corps and passing game a big lift, with his 47 catches for 650 yards and three touchdowns leading the squad. His breakout game came in a 16-14 road triumph over Georgia Southern (Nov. 2), when he hauled in a 75-yard touchdown catch on the game's first snap. The next week against SoCon frontrunner Samford, he made perhaps the contest's most decisive play when he caught a pass and outran the Bulldog secondary to complete an 85-yard touchdown play that gave Furman a 21-9 lead just prior to intermission. Against Wofford he started the Paladins' comeback from a 14-0 deficit with a 21-yard touchdown grab just before intermission, sparking Furman on a run of 27 unanswered points. His 47 receptions and 640 receiving yards are both new Paladin freshman season standards.
True freshman backup quarterback Richard Hayes III can certainly be considered one of Furman's unsung heroes this fall, especially after his superb 12-carry performance against Western Carolina (Nov. 16) that netted 144 yards and a touchdown in the Paladins' 32-20 victory. He reeled off a 54-yard first half run to set up a field goal and in the third quarter broke Western Carolina's back with a 60-yard touchdown bolt only one offensive play after the Catamounts had scored to cut Furman's lead to 19-17. The 144 rushing yards were the most by a Paladin quarterback since 1986 and second highest tally by a signal caller in program history (153, Keith Moore vs. Western Caorlina, 1986). Hayes' productivity at quarterback began on Oct. 6 when he made the unlikely switch from defensive back to offense after injuries to signal callers Reese Hannon, Dillon Woodruff, and Terry Robinson, forced the Paladins to call on true freshman Duncan Fletcher, the fourth string quarterback, for starts against both Elon and Chattanooga. When Hayes saw his first action against Chattanooga (5 rushes, 14 yards), he was the fifth quarterback to play for the Paladins in 2013. He has since settled into the role as Hannon's backup but continues to see quality playing time. Heading into the North Dakota State game he is Furman's second leading rusher with 53 carries for 299 yards and two touchdowns. As a senior quarterback at Greensboro's Dudley (N.C.) High School, he ran for 1,802 yards and 33 touchdowns and passed for 1,506 yards and eight scores.
FINDING A WAY TO WIN
The fact that Furman won a SoCon championship in spite of some of the issues the Paladins have dealt with over the last several months is pretty remarkable. Take, for instance, the defensive line. Following national signing day and prior to the start of spring practice head coach Bruce Fowler was informed that two projected fifth-year seniors, veteran starting nose guard Neal Rodgers and likely starting tackle Rashaun Phillips, could not return for their final season after it was discovered paperwork for redshirt seasons had not been filed, as believed, by the previous coaching staff. To cover the massive crater, Fowler robbed his linebacking corps of its most experienced performer, junior Gary Wilkins, who made the switch to end, and moved junior Ira McCune from end to tackle. Sophomore John Mackey, Rodgers' projected backup this year, was promoted into the starting lineup. Two weeks into the season the Paladins' lone returning starter on the defensive line, senior end Shawn Boone, sustained torn knee ligaments in practice and was lost for the year. Shortly thereafter the Paladins lost redshirt freshman tackle Sebastian Rice to injury, thus putting Furman four men down in its defensive line. To deal with those setbacks, Fowler switched McCune back to end to replace Boone and took the redshirt off true freshman tackle Jordan Hawkins. The only inside depth the Paladins have possessed since week three of the season is junior nose guard Danny Palmer, who entered the 2013 campaign with no career tackles, and true freshman Jackson Buonomia, who made the switch from offensive guard to the defensive front. Furman's backup defensive ends include redshirt freshmen Brian Ross and true freshmen Brad Minter.
RAY EARLY...THREE-WAY STANDOUT
Ray Early has fashioned a outstanding season in three roles: placekicker, punter, and kickoff specialist — which makes one of the top specialists in FCS. The Paladin senior booted a 32-yard field goal in Saturday's 30-20 win over South Carolina State to up his Furman season field goals made standard to 20 and team leading points tally to 93, just four shy of the school record currently held by Scott Beckler (97 points, 2005). Three weeks ago against Western Carolina he kicked a school record six field goals (48, 24, 40, 39, 30, 32) in seven attempts and accounted for 20 points in propelling Furman to a 32-20 victory over the Catamounts in Cullowhee, N.C. The six field goals topped the previous record of five held by Glen Connally (vs. East Tennessee State, 1990) and tied the SoCon record. Early also put seven of his nine kickoffs into the end zone for touchbacks and averaged 41.3 yards on three punts against the Catamounts — all of which garnered him Sports Network National Special Teams Player of the Week for the second time this season, and SoCon Special Teams Player of the Week honors for the third time in 2013 (and fifth time of his career). After missing his first three field goal tries this year, the Darlington, S.C., product has converted 20 of his last 22 attempts, including seven from 40-plus yards. He is now 43-for-59 on field goals in his career (including 4-for-4 from 50-plus yards) and has climbed to third on Furman's all-time kick scoring chart (248 points). In addition to leading the SoCon in field goals made per game (1.5) and field goal percentage (80.0 percent, 20-of-25), he tops the league and ranks 11th nationally in punting (42.9 avg.). He has also recorded touchbacks on 36 of his 68 kickoffs this fall.
Furman junior left guard Tank Phillips, a veteran of 18 starts over the last two seasons, including all 10 this year, sustained a fractured leg in the first half of the Western Carolina game (Nov. 16). His exit from the lineup is the third by a Paladin regular this year — a list that also includes senior defensive end Shawn Boone (torn knee ligaments) and junior wide receiver Gary Robinson (fractured ankle), who suffered season ending injuries earlier in the season. In addition, the Paladins have lost two quarterbacks for the campaign, including freshman Dillon Woodruff (fractured shoulder), who started in the season opener at Gardner-Webb in place of the injured Reese Hannon (strained oblique), and early season backup signal caller Terry Robinson (torn knee ligaments), who sustained season ending injury against Elon.
A WORTHY ENTRY
Greg Worthy, Furman's senior safety and squad's most experienced performer with 46 games and 39 starts, cracked the school's career Top 20 tackles chart against Western Carolina (Nov. 16). His 334 career tackles rank 18th in program history and the most ever by a Paladin defensive back. The Hampton, Ga./Griffin H.S., product has 125 tackles on the season, which ranks second in the Southern Conference.
HAVE A GAME, WOULD YOU?
Marcus McMorris has fashioned some impressive performances in his three seasons as a Paladin, including a Southern Conference Defensive Player of the Week display against Elon in 2012 when he returned a fumble a school record 95 yards in a 35-17 Paladin victory, but he managed to top them all on Nov. 9 against Samford — all while playing a new position. Furman's regular starter at free safety through the first nine games, the junior from Newberry, S.C., made the switch to weak side linebacker versus the Bulldogs and responded with a career tying 11 tackles, including 1.5 for-loss, a sack, a forced fumble, a fumble recovery, and an 89-yard interception return for a touchdown that sealed the decision over the Bulldogs. That performance earned him SoCon Defensive Player of the Week, College Football Performance Awards National Linebacker of the Week, and Sports Network National Defensive Player of the Week honors.
THREE IN A ROW
A hallmark of Furman's late-season rise has been some Herculean individual performances — three, in fact, that helped the Paladins produce three straight national player of the week accolodes. Placekicker/punter Ray Early collected Sports Network National Special Teams Player of the Week honors for his performance in Furman's 16-14 win over Georgia Southern (Nov. 2). The next week it was linebacker Marcus McMorris (see note above), whose superb performance keyed the Paladins to a 35-17 victory over Samford (Nov. 9). Early made it a national trifecta for the Paladins with his record setting six-field goal display in a 32-20 triumph over Western Carolina (Nov. 16).
FU STYLE SENDOFFS
Furman's 27-10 win over Appalachian State (Oct. 19) and the 16-14 triumph over Georgia Southern (Nov. 2) gave the Paladins wins in their final two meetings with the Mountaineers and Eagles, who are departing the league following the 2013-14 school year to join the FBS Sunbelt Conference. Furman wrapped up its 43-year SoCon series rivalry with the Mountaineers with a 23-18-3 record — the only program in the league to post a winning series against App State. The Paladins also went 15-6-1 versus App State in Greenville and won three of the final four clashes with Georgia Southern in Statesboro.
NEW ATTENDANCE RECORD
The announced attendance of 92,554 at the Furman-LSU game (Oct. 26) made it the largest crowd to ever witness Furman play football. The previous standard had been 84,674 at Florida in 2011.
TOUGH OCTOBER FOR THE ROBINSONS
Furman starting flanker and leading receiver Gary Robinson (24 rec., 351 yds., 2 TDs) sustained a fractured ankle in the first quarter against Appalachian State (Oct. 19) and will miss the remainder of the season. His brother, sophomore backup quarterback Terry Robinson (23 rushes, 101 yds., 4 TDs) was lost for the season after suffering torn ACL, MCL, and PCL knee ligaments against Elon (Oct. 5).
THE LAST ROBINSON STANDING
With brothers Gary and Terry Robinson sidelined for the remainder of the season with injuries, the Paladins are down to one Robinson on their active roster — true freshman safety Trey Robinson, who has gained the confidence of the coaching staff with stellar play. Against LSU (Oct. 26), the former Dorman High standout notched a season high eight tackles. Two weeks later versus Samford, Robinson earned the first start of his career, stepping in at free safety after Marcus McMorris was switched to weak side linebacker. In that inaugural start against the Bulldogs he tallied four tackles, a pass deflection, and an interception in the end zone that halted a scoring threat. He registered seven stops, including two for-loss, versus Western Carolina and racked up nine stops last Saturday against South Carolina State.
LENDING A HAND
Jairus Hollman's block of a potential game winning 24-yard field goal attempt with 18 seconds remaining against Presbyterian (Sept. 14) marked the first blocked field goal by a Paladin since the 2010 season (vs. Chattanooga) and first game saving deflection since 2009 when Kyle McKinney blocked a 39-yard field goal try by Samford's Cameron Yaw on the final play of a 26-24 Furman victory in Paladin Stadium.
After giving up 309 rushing yards to The Citadel in last year's season ending loss to the Bulldogs in Greenville, Furman corralled its arch-rival in Charleston (Sept. 28), limiting The Citadel to just 132 yards rushing on 37 carries en route to the 24-17 victory. The effectiveness of Furman's rushing defense against The Citadel was best summarized by the work turned in against Bulldog senior quarterback Ben Dupree, who was limited to minus two yards rushing on nine carries after running for 159 yards and five touchdowns the week before against Old Dominion.
FELTON ENTERS HALL OF FAME
Former Furman and current Minnesota Vikings Pro Bowl fullback Jerome Felton was among four greats inducted into Furman's Athletic Hall of Fame prior to the Paladins' game against Elon (Oct. 5). Felton rushed 565 times for 2,652 yards and 63 touchdowns in four seasons as Furman's starting fullback, helping pace the Paladins to a 10-3 record and Southern Conference championship in 2004, 11-3 mark in 2005, and three-consecutive NCAA I-AA (FCS) playoff appearances. The owner of numerous school season and career rushing /touchdown records, he was a three-time All-Southern Conference choice -- a very rare feat for a true fullback -- and earned All-American accolades and participated in the East-West Shrine Bowl in 2007. The Madisonville, Tenn., native, was drafted by the Detroit Lions in 2008 and has played six seasons in the NFL, including stints with Detroit, Carolina, St. Louis, and Minnesota.
FELTON SCORES AGAIN WITH GIFT
Already firmly entrenched among the greatest players in school football history, 2013 Furman Hall of Famer Jerome Felton added to his legacy on Oct. 5 by presenting a $100,000 check to his alma mater to be used for new players lockers being installed in the new Pearce-Horton Football Complex, which will open in December.
PEARCE-HORTON FOOTBALL COMPLEX OPENING THIS FALL
In December Furman will open the new Pearce-Horton Football Complex, a 44,000 square-foot, four-story facility that will serve as the new operational home for Furman football and include locker room, coaches' offices, meeting rooms, sports medicine center, and "Heritage Hall." The new building also features a club level and new press box. Designed by McMillan, Pazdan, and Smith of Greenville, the project is coordinated by Triangle Construction, also of Greenville.