By Jacob Waldrip
Following a solid 31-17 victory over the Elon Phoenix in Elon, NC, the Furman Paladins took a Saturday off before focusing their attention this week on Boone, NC and rival Appalachian State University.
Much like the Georgia Southern rivalry, the Paladins all-time series with Appalachian State has been full of close matchups with everything on the line.
More than once, a Furman-Appalachian State contest has played a factor in deciding the SoCon football champion, and this season will be no different.
With a monumental win over Georgia Southern last week, Appalachian State heads into their “Black Saturday” full of steam, tied atop the standings with the Eagles and with Wofford, all at 5-2, with the University of Tennessee-Chattanooga on their heels at 4-2.
Needless to say, there is much on the line for Appalachian State this weekend. Furman comes in having the opportunity to play spoiler in that race this season.
A loss for App State would be crippling not only as far as the SoCon championship goes, but it would also slow Appalachian State’s momentum heading into the playoffs, as they conclude the regular season on Saturday with Furman.
Additionally, it could potentially send them away from Kidd Brewer Stadium for their first playoff game.
Kidd Brewer Stadium has been the site of a few haunting games for the Paladins, and it is always a big deal to go to Appalachian State and come home victorious.
Back in 2005, Furman was on the verge of claiming a NCAA semi-final win at Appalachian State when the ‘Dins turned it over on downs inside the five yard line, which led to a 98 yard game-winning touchdown drive for the Mountaineers.
Many Paladin fans are still haunted by that game, though it still may not compare to the debacle in 2002 commonly remembered as the “Miracle on the Mountain.”
This refers to the game when Furman had scored a touchdown to go up by one, and went for two in an attempt to go up by a field goal. Quarterback Billy Napier threw an interception that was returned (via lateral!) for two points, and the Paladins lost to the Mountaineers by a final of 16-15.
A Furman Paladin win on Saturday would add an upset and another big win in the rivalry between two of the SoCon’s “Big Three” (Georgia Southern, Appalachian State, and Furman).