GREENVILLE, S.C. -- Its non-conference schedule now in the rearview mirror, the Furman Paladins return home Saturday to begin a five-game stretch of Southern Conference games that will determine the fate of the 2014 campaign. Kickoff for the ESPN3 televised contest at Paladin Stadium is set for 1:30 p.m.
Pete Yanity will call the play-by-play action and will be joined by Will Merritt with color commentary.
Saturday's contest will be radio broadcast over the Furman IMG Sports Network headed up by flagship station WGOG 96.3/Walhalla and FoxSports 1440/Greenville, and also available via stadium transmitter frequency (96.7 FM), as well as audio stream at TuneIn.com.
Dan Scott, the "Voice of the Paladins", is set to call the play-by-play alongside color analyst Corey Stewart. The sideline reporter is David Cobb.
Fans can also follow the action via live stats at FurmanPaladins.com and twitter @PaladinFootball and @FurmanPaladins
Furman (3-3, 1-1 SoCon) enters Saturday's matchup with Samford (3-3, 2-2 SoCon) looking for its first win since early September. Forced to deal with a number of injuries and lineup changes over the season's first half, the Paladins have lost five straight and find themselves in a situation eerily similar to last year when head coach Bruce Fowler's squad rallied from a 2-4 mid-season mark to win five of its final six games and claim a share of the SoCon crown.
Furman's 35-17 win over Samford last year in Paladin Stadium, punctuated by defensive back Marcus Morris' 85-yard, fourth quarter interception return for a touchdown, was part of the Paladins' late season run to a shared league crown. Furman leads the all-time series, 9-7, and is 5-4 against the Bulldogs in Greenville.
Samford is coming off a 24-20 home loss to Wofford last Saturday. The Bulldogs' own SoCon wins over VMI and Mercer.
The Paladins will look to jump start their turnaround behind true freshman quarterback P.J. Blazejowski, who has combined to throw for 210 yards and a score and rush for 109 yards and a touchdown since moving into the starting lineup against Coastal Carolina, a 37-31 double overtime loss on Oct. 4.
Blazejowski and the Paladin offense will be aided by a resurgent ground game headed up by All-SoCon running back Hank McCloud, who is coming off two solid performances, including a 13-carry, 106-yard display against South Carolina that featured a career-best 60-yard scoring run.
Tight end Duncan Fletcher continues to impress in his first season as a full-time starter, posting 29 catches for 355 yards and a score in seven games.
Defensively Furman will attempt to recapture some of its early season moxy behind the SoCon's leading tackler, junior linebacker Cory Magwood (83 tackles) and All-SoCon defensive end Gary Wilkins, whose 4.5 sacks paces the squad. Furman's 18 sacks, which includes four registered last week against South Carolina, already matches last year's tally accumulated over 14 games.
The Paladin secondary was dealt a big blow two weeks ago after preseason All-SoCon performer Trey Robinson exited the lineup after contracting mononucleosis. Expected to miss a minimum of our games, Robinson joins All-SoCon linebacker Carl Rider, Furman's leading tackler a year ago, and veteran offensive tackle Charles Emert (36 career starts) on the sideline.
Hunter Reid, Furman Sports Information