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Furman Drops SoCon Opener At ETSU, 29-27

Harris Roberts
Harris Roberts

JOHNSON CITY, TENN. -- East Tennessee State scored 23 unanswered points over the final 19 minutes of play, including a game deciding safety in the closing minutes to beat Furman, 29-27, in Southern Conference football action Saturday evening at William B. Greene, Jr. Stadium.

Furman (0-3, 0-1 SoCon) built a 27-6 lead through two and half quarters and appeared to be in command before ETSU rallied behind substitute quarterback Austin Herink to overtake the Paladins.  Herink completed 9-of-14 passes for 202 yards and a touchdown to key the Bucs' comeback.

ETSU tied the game at 27-27 on a 1-yard scoring pass from Herink to Matt Thompson and PAT from JJ Jerman with 2:23 to go.

On the ensuing kickoff Furman return man DeJuan Bell downed the ball at the Furman 3-yard line without signaling for a fair catch.  Two plays later Darius Morehead was tackled in the end zone for a safety, giving ETSU the 29-27 lead.

After stopping the Bucs on the ensuing possession, Furman took possesion at its own 48 with 1:38 remaining.  The Paladins advanced to the ETSU 41 before quarterback Harris Roberts was sacked at the ETSU 46, after which three passes fell incomplete to seal the outcome.

Furman built a 13-3 lead by halftime with an 8-yard scoring run by Kealand Dirks and a pair of Grayson Atkins field goals covering 30 and 26 yards.

Following a 48-minute lightning delay, the Paladins stretched the advantage to 27-6 on 10-yard and 14-yard third quarter scoring runs by Devin Wynn and Morehead, respectively, with Morehead's score set up by a Patrick Wells interception and return to the ETSU 21.

Following the pickoff ETSU inserted Herink into the game, and he quickly engineered a nine-play, 93-yard drive that pulled the Bucs to within 27-13 on a Quay Holmes 2-yard scoring run.

Furman managed just two first downs and seven total yards over its final five possessions, three of which ended in punts, one on the safety, and the final possession on downs.

ETSU outgained Furman 377-288 in total offense.

Roberts completed 10-of-21 passes for 149 yards for the Paladins, who rushed for 139 yards.

Redshirt freshman bandit Adrian Hope registered a pair of sacks to headline a Paladin defense that totaled five sacks in the contest.