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It's Furman-Citadel This Saturday!

Bryan Okeh
Bryan Okeh

GREENVILLE, S.C. -- Furman and The Citadel are set to renew the Southern Conference's oldest and most-contested football rivalry this Saturday when the two longtime league foes tee it up at Johnson Hagood Stadium in Charleston.

Kickoff for the ESPN+ broadcast contest is set for 2:00 p.m.

The game will mark the 98th meeting between the Paladins and Bulldogs in a series that began in 1913 and has been played annually since 1919, with a brief three-year cessation from 1943-45 when the two schools closed ranks with the rest of America and the Allies to fight Hitler, Mussolini, and Hirohito in World War II.

Furman (2-4, 2-2 SoCon) owns a commanding 59-35-3 advantage over The Citadel (2-4, 2-3 SoCon) in the 97 previous clashes — the 59 wins representing the most by the Paladins against any gridiron foe.  Included in that is a 27-13 worksheet since 1978 and dominating 56-20 triumph last year in Greenville.  The Citadel, however, has captured the last two meetings in Charleston, the latest being a 19-14 triumph in 2016.

Furman will be looking to bounce back from a 38-25 home loss to Samford in a contest that saw the Paladins lose starting quarterback Harris Roberts to a late first quarter injury. Able to build a 12-10 halftime lead on the strength of Grayson Atkins' record setting four first half field goals, including efforts from 27, 50, 51, and 53 yards, Furman extended its advantage to 19-10 in the third quarter on a Thomas Gordon 77-yard touchdown reception. Samford, however, responded with scores following a pair of costly Furman turnovers to post the victory, halting the Paladins' six-game home winning streak.

The Citadel is coming off a 34-32 road win over rival VMI last Saturday and enters this week's contest with its customary potent ground attack, ranking seventh in the FCS in rushing offense (282.3 ypg).  The Bulldogs, however, haven't had much luck against second year Paladin defensive coordinator Chad Staggs, who prior to coming to Furman directed Charleston Southern defenses that bottled up the Bulldog ground game in helping the Buccaneers go 4-0 against the cross-town rivals.  In last year's Furman blowout , Staggs' Paladin stop troops limited The Citadel to 146 ground yards after the Bulldogs entered the contest averaging 326.7 rushing yards per game.

Two weeks ago Furman's defense came up big in a 34-14 romp over then fourth-ranked Wofford, yielding only 247 rushing yards after the Terriers entered the game with the FCS's top rushing unit (388.8 ypg).

While it remains to be seen who will get the starting nod at quarterback for Furman on Saturday, it is apparent the Paladins boast more speed and depth at running back this fall, with sophomore Devin Wynn (293 yds., 6.1 ypc), freshman Cory Watkins (193 yds., 6.9 ypc), redshirt senior Kealand Dirks (175 yds., 2 TDs), and redshirt sophomore Darius Morehead (151 yds., 7.6 ypc) producing solid numbers.

Gordon (16 rec., 259 yds., TD) is Furman's top receiver and deep threat.

Defensively the linebacking tandem of sophomore Elijah McKoy and junior Donavan Perryman lead the way with 56 and 47 tackles, respectively, followed by junior spur Jordan Willis, who has tallied 26 tackles over the last three games.

Redshirt freshman bandit Adrian Hope ranks third nationally in sacks (7/1.17 per game), though adding his total may be a challenge against The Citadel with the Bulldogs averaging just over 12 pass attempts per game.

In addition to the live stream and commercial television broadcast, fans can follow the action on the IMG/Furman Sports Network via Greenville flagship station FoxSports 1440 AM, campus station WPLS 95.9 FM, and online via Stretch Audio thru FurmanPaladins.com, as well as thru Tune-In Radio on the Furman/IMG channel.  Paladin fans in Johnson Hagood Stadium can enjoy the broadcast via in-stadium transmitter on a frequency to be announced via twitter @PaladinFootball on Saturday.  Dan Scott, "The Voice of the Furman Paladins," is set to deliver the play-by-play, and former Paladin offensive lineman David Cobb will provide commentary.

Links for video, audio, and live stats are all available thru FurmanPaladins.com.

Hunter Reid, Sports Information