By Jacob Waldrip
This weekend, the Furman Paladins took on Western Carolina University and cruised to victory.
Furman took the opening possession and moved the ball at will, but fumbled as they fought for yardage and tried to make it to the end zone.
The Catamounts returned the favor, kicked a field goal, to take a 3-0 lead. Then Jerodis Williams and the Paladins took over.
Starting with a 100 yard kick-off return for a touchdown on the heels of that game-opening field goal, Williams rolled up 370 all-purpose yards, including the fourth best rushing game ever by a Paladin, with 239 yards on the ground.
His 201 yards rushing in the first half has been matched only once in Furman history, when Louis Ivory ran for 201 yards in the second half en route to a 300 yard performance against Georgia Southern in 2000.
Hank McCloud added 123 yards on the ground on 20 carries to help bring Furman’s rushing total to 389 yards on the game.
The Paladin running backs found plenty of room behind a very physical and dominating performance by the offensive line.
The offensive line also gave Reese Hannon plenty of time to find his receivers as Hannon turned in his fourth consecutive 200-plus yard performance, going 13-21 en route to 230 passing yards.
Furman’s defense was in control for much of the game, surrendering only 10 points through the first three quarters as Furman built a 45-10 lead heading into the fourth quarter.
With a 31-10 lead at the end of the first half, Furman opened the second with a bang on the strength of a 52 yard interception return for a touchdown by Marcus McMorris.
At the end of the day, Furman had dominated in every facet of the game, scoring touchdowns on special teams and defense, as well as rolling up 619 yards of offense.
The Paladins took a huge first step toward playoff football and a SoCon title with the win over the Catamounts, which ended with a final score of 45-24 in favor of the Paladins.
Western Carolina is now 1-4 with an 0-3 record in conference.
Next week, the Paladins travel down I-85 to take on the Wofford Terriers. Wofford is the only SoCon Team with no conference losses. Most recently, they beat fellow conference member Elon by the score of 49-24.
A win next week against the Terriers, long a major rival, could set up a seven-way tie for first place in the Southern Conference.