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Furman Lets It Slip Away At The Citadel, 42-35

P.J. Blazejowski
P.J. Blazejowski
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GREENVILLE, S.C. -- Aaron Miller scored on a two-yard run in overtime to lift The Citadel past Furman, 42-35, in Southern Conference football action Saturday afternoon at Johnson Hagood Stadium.

Miller's score proved to be game winner for The Citadel (4-6, 2-3 SoCon) after Furman (2-8, 1-4 SoCon) saw its overtime possession end on downs at the Bulldog 24.

Furman paved the way for The Citadel to win the game by failing to convert three fourth quarter scoring opportunities -- any one of which would have most likely clinched the verdict for the Paladins.

Leading 35-28 with nine minutes remaining in the game, Furman appeared set to drop the hammer on its longtime rival after moving from its own 41 to The Citadel 6; however, on a first-and-goal play Isaac Garcia ran around left  end to the Bulldog 2 before being stripped of the football, which bounced out of the end zone for a Bulldog touchback.

Furman's Nick Miller gave Furman its next chance when he scooped up a fumble by Citadel's Tyler Renew at the Bulldog 48 but was ruled down at the spot by an inadvertent whistle despite keeping his feet through the entire play.

From the 48 the Paladins needed seven plays to reach the end zone, but Garcia's four-yard scoring run off the right side was nullified by a holding call.  Two plays later Jon Croft Hollingsworth missed a 30-yard field goal that could have given Furman a 10-point lead with 3:57 remaining.

The Citadel cashed in on the gifts by covering 80 yards in seven plays, aided by a pass interference call on Furman and 45-yard pass completion from Miller to Jonathan Dorogny to the Paladin 8-yard line.

Tyler Renew's 6-yard scoring run with 1:34 left and PAT tied the contest at 35-35 and forced overtime.

Furman quarterback P.J. Blazejowski put the Paladins in position to with a solid performance that saw him complete 20-of-29 passes for 307 yards and three touchdowns.  The true freshman from St. Augustine, Fla., also ran nine times for 75 yards.  The 382 yards in total offense set a new Furman single game record, breaking the old mark of 380 yards against Samford in 2011.

Blazejowski's favorite target was Jordan Snellings, who caught eight passes for 102 yards and a score.  Snellings' 24-yard hook-up with Blazejowski, set up Nick Miller fumble recovery on the opening kickoff, gave the Paladins a 7-0 lead — their first advantage in a game since the Presbyterian game on Sept. 13.

After the Bulldogs cut it to 7-6, Blazejowski connected with Chad Scott on a 32-yard scoring strike for a 14-6 advantage .

A 3-yard Garcia scoring run and Blazejowski 12-yard scamper midway through the second quarter streched the Paladins' advantage to 28-13, but it didn't last as the Bulldogs fashioned a seven-play, 74-yard drive and 11-play, 80-yard march over the final five minutes to send the game into intermission tied 28-28.

Furman couldn't take advantage of Logan McCarter's 63-yard kickoff return that opened the second half, failing to convert a fourth-and-one play at The Citadel 25.

Early the fourth quarter the Paladins broke the deadlock when Blazejowski connected a short pass to Tanner Skogen, who split two Bulldog defenders and raced 65 yards to the end zone for a 35-28 lead with 12:57 remaining.

The Paladins forced a Citadel punt on the ensuing possession and appeared ready to seal the game's outcome but Garcia's fumble into the end zone gave kept the Bulldogs alive.

The two teams combined for 1,006 yards in offense, with The Citadel totaling 549 to Furman's season high 457 yards.

Renew paced The Citadel's 407-yard ground attack with 18 rushes for 103 yards and a score.

Miller ran for 91 yards and two touchdowns on 19 carries, and he added 142 yards passing and two scores.

Cory Magwood matched his career with 18 tackles, and Ira McCune registered nine stops and a sack.  Making his first career start at safety, Miller tallied eight tackles and two fumble recoveries.

Skogen saw action on both sides of the ball and on special teams for the Paladins, registering a tackle as a backup safety to go along with the 65-yard touchdown catch.  He also was credited with a forced fumble, which Miller recovered on the opening kickoff to give Furman the early lead.

Hunter Reid, Furman Sports Information