GREENVILLE, S.C. -- The Furman Paladins kick off the 2015 season on Saturday against the Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) consensus fifth-ranked Coastal Carolina Chanticleers in a 7:00 p.m. game at Paladin Stadium.
The contest will mark the opening of the 110th season of football at Furman, which returns 19 starters off last year's injury riddled squad. Due in large measure to last season's injury issues, Furman counts 36 players on this year's team who own starts — an asset fifth year head coach Bruce Fowler hopes will help the Paladins improve on 2014's 3-9 finish.
Saturday's game, which will be carried by ESPN3, will be radio broadcast over the Furman IMG Sports Network headed up by flagship station WGOG 101.7/Walhalla and FoxSports 1440/Greenville. It will also be available via stadium transmitter (96.7 FM) and audio streamed via TuneIn.com, which is also accessible through FurmanPaladins.com
Live stats for the Furman-Coastal Carolina contest will be available through FurmanPaladins.com and for mobile devices via Paladinslive.com
Fans can also follow the game via Twitter @PaladinFootball and @Furman Paladins
Tickets for Saturday's game and all Furman athletic events may be purchased online 24/7 at www.furmanpaladins.com at the Tickets tab, or by calling the Timmons Arena Box Office at 864-294-3099 between 10:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. Monday-Friday. The Timmons Arena Box Office and the Paladin Stadium East Stands Box office open two hours prior to kick off of each home football game.
The contest will mark the second consecutive meeting between the Paladins and Chanticleers in Greenville following FCS third-ranked Coastal Carolina's 37-31 double overtime win over Furman last year. Coastal Carolina led 21-7 in the third quarter before Furman, behind quarterback P.J. Blazejowksi, stormed back to tie the game at 21-21 and eventually force overtime after the Paladins' Trey Robinson blocked a potential game winning 24-yard field goal with 10 seconds to go in regulation. Both teams traded field goals in the first overtime for a 31-31 tie before CCU's De'Angelo Henderson hauled in a game winning 17-yard touchdown pass in double overtime.
Coastal Carolina leads the young series, 5-1, and has won four straight over the Paladins, but all six games have been close affairs, with Furman's losses coming by a combined 24 points, including a 47-45 triple overtime setback in 2012, also in Paladin Stadium.
Coastal Carolina notched a 12-2 season in 2014 and claimed its third consecutive Big South Conference championship and FCS playoff berth. The Chanticleers dropped a 39-32 quarterfinal playoff decision to North Dakota State, the eventual national champion, in Fargo, ND.
With games against Virginia Tech (Sept. 12) and Central Florida (Sept. 19) dotting its early season schedule, Furman is hoping the return of a pair of redshirt juniors, quarterback Reese Hannon and linebacker Carl Rider, will provide a big lift. Both Hannon and Rider missed virtually the entire 2014 season due to injury — Hannon with a broken leg and dislocated ankle sustained in the Paladins' season opening, 13-3 win over Gardner-Webb, and Rider with two torn labrums that sidelined him for a 16-month stretch leading up to the current preseason. Hannon, a Greer, S.C., product, who sports a 9-3 record as a starter, passed for 1,748 yards and seven touchdowns in 2013 in leading Furman to a SoCon championship, while Rider, from Atlanta, Ga., led the SoCon with 136 tackles and was a first team all-league selection two years ago.
The Paladins boast their top four receivers from 2014, led by All-SoCon wide receiver Jordan Snellings (50 rec., 727 yds., 2 TDs), redshirt junior wide receivers Andrej Suttles (41 rec., 497 yds., 1 TD) and Chad Scott (20 rec., 257 yds., 4 TDs), and junior tight end Duncan Fletcher (36 rec., 442 yds., 2 TDs). Fletcher was recently named to the third team STATS Preseason All-America squad.
Senior All-SoCon guard Joe Turner anchors an offensive front that sports four returning regulars.
The defense is anchored by consensus All-SoCon linebacker Cory Magwood, who joined tight end Duncan Fletcher on the STATS Preseason All-America squad after posting a league best 123 tackles in 2014. Also back are senior defensive tackle John Mackey (44 tackles, 7 TFL, 4 sacks), senior cornerback Reggie Thomas, the Paladins' most veteran player (35 starts), and junior safety Trey Robinson (51 tackles, 6 PBU), who missed three games a year ago due to mononucleosis.
The Paladins' biggest loss position-wise was at defensive end, where All-American Gary Wilkins graduated and later signed a free agent contract with the Oakland Raiders.
The squad's punting and kicking chores will be handled by sophomore Jon Croft Hollingsworth, who captured SoCon All-Freshman Team honors last year after converting 9-of-17 field goals and averaging 39.6 yards per punt.
The Game: Furman Paladins (0-0) vs. Coastal Carolina Chanticleers (0-0)
Site: Greenville, S.C. (Paladin Stadium, on the campus of Furman University)
Kickoff: 7:04 p.m. ET
Television: ESPN3: Chuck Hussion (pbp), Sam Wyche (color), Bob Mihalic (sideline)
Radio: Furman IMG Sports Network (WGOG 101.7/Walhalla, FoxSports 1440/Greenville, Stadium Transmitter 96.7): Dan Scott (pbp), David Cobb (color), Bob Mihalic (sideline)
Audio Stream: TuneIn.com accessible through FurmanPaladins.com
Tickets: Available (www.furmanpaladins.com); Timmons Arena, East Stands Box Offices Open 5:00 p.m.
Gates Open: 5:30 p.m.
Game Sponsor: Bon Secours St. Francis Health System
+ Sponsored by Aramark, the Paladin Club Tailgate Zone located in the area between the home stands and field house, opens 90 minutes prior to kickoff and offers free bounce houses for kids, towel giveaway, and food/drinks for Paladin Club members.
+ The "Champions Walk" commences 60 minutes prior to kickoff and the first 500 fans on hand to usher the Paladins into the stadium will receive special "Champions Walk" t-shirts sponsored by Ingles, the exclusive grocer of Furman Athletics.
+ GSP International Airport Paladin VIP Getaway (Furman vs. Central Florida, Sept. 19). Fans can register for this special prize or inside the Paladin Stadium Concourse on game day.
+ Paladin Pet of the Week. Fans can submit a picture of their game-day-ready pet for a chance to win four passes to the Greenville Zoo, a Furman prize pack, and have their pet featured on the videoboard during the game.
+ Farm Bureau 2016 Furman Season Ticket Giveaway. Fans have a chance to win two (2) 2016 Furman football season tickets, season parking pass, and two (2) Furman football shirts by registering.
In-Game Promotions (Every Game This Season):
McDonalds Cheeseburger in Paradise, Mast General Store T-Shirt Toss, GSP International T-Shirt Toss, Hardee's Hyped-Up Fan Cam, Farm Bureau Insurance Fanatic Fan of the Game, Family Dental Health Smile Cam, Available Technology Tweet Your Seat, ScanSource Student Athlete of the Month, Ingles Show Us Your Ingles Card, Ingles Kicking Hunger Promotion, Greenville Heritage Federal Credit Union Take Away Give Back, Children's Museum of the Upstate Tiny Tailgater of the Game.
Pre-Game - Furman All-American Allen Edwards (Game Ball), Paladin Knights Kids Club
Quarter 1 Break - President Elizabeth Davis, Gary Clark, Mike Buddie
Quarter 3 Break - ScanSource Student-Athlete Leader of the Month
Coastal Carolina University Band
Furman University Band
Hunter Reid, Furman Sports Information