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No. 21 Furman Cruises Past The Citadel, Wins Seventh Straight, 56-20

P.J. Blazejowski
P.J. Blazejowski

GREENVILLE, S.C -- No. 21-ranked Furman scored touchdowns on its first seven possessions and rolled up 554 yards of total offense to claim its seventh consecutive win with a 56-20 victory over The Citadel in Southern Conference football action on Saturday afternoon at Paladin Stadium.

The victory improved the Paladins to 7-3 overall and 6-1 in the Southern Conference. Furman can earn a share of the SoCon regular season title with a victory in its regular season finale at Samford next Saturday.

The Citadel drops to 5-5 overall and 3-5 in league action.

Senior Antonio Wilcox rushed for 106 yards and two scores on just 12 carries, while senior P.J. Blazejowski completed 11-of-14 passes for 204 yards and two touchdowns to lead the Paladins, who tallied 283 yards rushing and 261 passing yards.

Kealand Dirks finished with 83 yards rushing and two touchdowns.

"We had great preparation for this game and our defense did a phenomenal job against the run, and we were really efficient offensively," said first-year Furman head coach Clay Hendrix, whose squad's seven-game winning streak is the program's longest since 1999.  "We wanted to start fast and we knew we needed to be efficient on both sides of the ball, especially on offense.  I looked up there at the half and we had the ball only 13 minutes and had 35 points.  I think this might have been our best game overall, from an offensive and defensive standpoint."

The Paladins took command early, stopping The Citadel on its first possession and covering 70 yards for a Blazejowski 20-yard scoring strike to freshman wide receiver Cam Burnette.

Antonio Wilcox's 55-yard touchdown run pushed the lead to 14-0 by the end of the first quarter, and the Paladins blew it open with three second quarter touchdowns, aided by Furman's defense, which forced The Citadel into four first half punts and stopped the Bulldogs twice on downs over the game's first 30 minutes.

Leading 35-0 at intermission, the Paladins needed a little over a minute of clock time in the second half to pad their advantage.  A 56-yard kickoff return by Thomas Gordon to The Citadel 41 was followed three plays later by Keland Dirks' 26-yard touchdown run that stretched the advantage to 42-0.

Blazejowski's final pass of the game, at the 9:02 mark of the third quarter, went to Logan McCarter, who slipped by a defender for a 26-yard touchdown to give Furman a 49-7 lead.

Reynard Ellis' seven tackles paced Furman's defense, which recorded five sacks to improve its SoCon leading tally to 29, up from last year's tally of 12 in 11 games.  Donavan Perryman, Chris Washington, and Jonah Tibbs finished with six tackles apiece.

The Paladins registered a season high 11 tackles for loss in the contest.

Hunter Reid, Furman Sports Information