GREENVILLE, S.C. -- Cody Worley passed for 139 yards and a pair of touchdowns and also rushed for another score in only two quarters of action to power Furman to a 56-14 victory over Howard in non-conference football action Saturday afternoon at Paladin Stadium.
Worley scored on a two-run in the second quarter and finished off a strong Furman first half with a 12-yard touchdown strike to Colin Anderson and 11-yard connection with Tyler Maples to help the Paladins build a 42-7 halftime lead.
The win was the 21st straight for Furman (3-2) over non-conference regular season opponents in Paladin Stadium dating back to 1999.
"We approached this game with a sense of urgency and wanting to really establish ourselves early on both sides of the football and on special teams, and I think we did that," said Furman head coach Bobby Lamb. "We got a long punt return and an interception return for a touchdown early, and that really got us going. All we could do today was play Howard. We couldn't play Wofford again, and we couldn't play Samford (Furman's next opponent). As far as doing what we could do and trying to improve, we succeeded. That's the important thing."
The game afforded Furman the opportunity to empty its bench. All five quarterbacks in uniform saw action in the contest, and 11 players rushed the football for the Paladins, who totaled 289 yards on the ground and finished with 442 yards total offense.
Backup quarterback Dakota Derrick, who started the second half, led all rushers with nine carries for 92 yards and two touchdowns, including a 28-yard sprint around left end in the third quarter that stretched Furman's lead to 49-7.
Adam Mims caught four passes for 64 yards, and Sederrik Cunningham collected a pair of catches for 51 yards to run his string of consecutive games with at least one reception to 27.
Kadarron Anderson topped all defenders with 12 tackles, nine of which were registered in the first two quarters of play.
Adam Mims' 42-yard punt return to the Howard 12 set up Furman's first score, which came on the next play when Mike Brown raced around left end and into the end zone with the game less than three minutes old.
Three plays later Paladin defensive back Sterling Johnson picked off a pass by Howard's Randy Liggins and returned it 29 yards for a touchdown to make it 14-0.
The early onslaught continued after Furman stopped the Bison at the Howard 45 on a fake punt. A 19-yard run by Adam Mims to the Bison 26 was followed five plays later by a Jerry Williams 1-yard touchdown plunge for a 21-0 lead.
Howard (1-5) got on the board on its next series, using a 45-yard pass from Liggins to Shannon Thomas to the Furman 21 to set up a 3-yard Casey Council touchdown run that made it 21-7 with 26 seconds to go in the first quarter.
Furman responded with three touchdowns in the second period to break the game open. A 2-yard touchdown run by Worley completed a 7-play, 57-yard drive and gave the Paladins a 28-7 advantage. Worley then helped the Paladins take total control with a pair of scoring strikes, including an 11-yard hook-up with Maples with only 27 seconds to go before intermission for a 42-7 lead.
The Paladins return to Southern Conference play next Saturday when they play Samford in Birmingham in a 2:00 p.m. ET game that will be televised by SportSouth.
In going 6-for-6 in red zone scoring opportunities vs. Howard, Furman remained perfect in the red zone this year (now 20-for-20).
Furman won the turnover battle against Howard (0 turnovers vs. 3 turnovers by Howard) to record its second turnover-free contest in the last three games (0 turnovers vs. Citadel).
Sophomore free safety Derrick Murray made his first career start today in place of Nathan Wade, who sustained a knee injury in Wednesday's practice this week. Murray tallied five tackles and a pass deflection.
Sophomore bandit Sterling Johnson's 29-yard interception return for a touchdown was the second of the season for the Paladins (Shawn Boone 3-yard INT return for TD vs. South Carolina). It was also Johnson's second pickoff of the year.
Sophomore quarterback Dakota Derrick's 28-yard third quarter touchdown run was the first of his career.
Junior flanker Sederrik Cunningham has now caught a pass in every game of his Paladin career (26 games). He did not play vs. Auburn in 2009.
Redshirt freshman Ryan Culbreath earned the first start of his career at split end today.
True freshman Ray Early suffered the first missed field goal (43 yards) of his career. Early, who is now 5-of-6 on field goals, remained perfect on PATs, however, going 8-for-8 vs. Howard to improve to 21-of-21 on the season. His 36 points leads Furman in scoring.
Furman's 42 first half points versus Howard were the most by the Paladins since 2002 when Furman led Elon 49-0 en route to a 57-7 victory in Paladin Stadium.
Pictured: Dakota Derrick scores on a 28-yard run in the third quarter in Saturday's 56-14 win over Howard.