GREENVILLE, S.C. -- Triston Luke rushed for a pair of touchdowns and Furman turned in a strong defensive performance to post a 17-3 victory over South Carolina State in football action Saturday evening in rain-soaked, wind-swept Paladin Stadium.
Luke, a freshman running back from Clarksville, Tenn., rushed 22 times for 75 yards and scored on runs of six and eight yards — the second coming with 7:37 remaining — to help give Furman (3-2) its two-touchdown margin and a third straight victory.
"It was a good team win in difficult conditions," said Furman head coach Bruce Fowler. "We played well defensively, especially in the red zone, and again forced some turnovers. I thought our kicking game was solid. Offensively, we continue to have trouble running the football and struggled to convert third down plays, but when we had to have that drive in the fourth quarter, they came through with a nice mix of plays for the score."
A fumble recovery by Brad Minter at the S.C. State 5-yard line led to the game's first score -- a 22-yard Jon Croft Hollingsworth field goal in the final minute of the first quarter.
The Paladins stretched the advantage to 10-0 just before the half, using a 49-yard run by fullback Ernie Cain to the S.C. State 11 to set up runs of five and six yards by Luke to reach the end zone. Hollingsworth's PAT finished off the first half scoring for the Paladins.
Furman turned back S.C. State's first scoring threat of the game in the third quarter, using a Brian Ross tackle of Dondre Lewis-Freeman at the Paladin 4-yard line to blunt the Bulldogs on a fourth-and-goal play that originated at the one-foot line.
The Bulldogs finally got on the board early in the fourth quarter on a Tyler Scandrett 24-yard field goal.
Furman's offense, which combined for just 32 total yards in the second and third quarter, delivered a nine-play, 59-yard drive in the fourth period to put the game away. A 20-yard run by quarterback Reese Hannon gave the Paladins a first down at the State 40. Following a pair of eight-yard bursts by Luke, Hannon converted Furman's lone third down play of the contest with an 11-yard completion to Chad Scott to the State 13, and two plays later Luke bounced outside and outran the defense around left end to the pylon to complete an 8-yard touchdown run. Hollingsworth's PAT made it 17-3 with 7:37 remaining.
From that point the Paladin defense shut the door on the Bulldogs, forcing a punt on the ensuing possession and getting junior safety Trey Robinson's second interception of the contest at the Furman 41 with just over two minutes to go.
Furman, which registered three takeaways in the game and did not suffer a turnover, got a career high 19 tackles from linebacker Carl Rider and 13 stops from Cory Magwood.
The Bulldogs posted a 272-221 advantage in total offense. Quarterback Caleb Cobb led the way, completing 19-of-29 passes for 192 yards, but he was picked off twice and was charged with a fumble that led to Furman's first score.
Jalen Simmons rushed for 70 of S.C. State's 80 yards.
Hunter Reid, Furman Sports Information