By Carter Hunt, Staff Writer
If a win is a win, then a loss is a loss. But after the Paladins fell two Saturdays ago to FBS and ACC foe Virginia Tech in its second loss to start the season, the 0-2 record seems to show only a shade of the truth.
The Paladins did get wiped off the field by a stronger Virginia Tech team that was avenging an opening home loss to the Ohio State Buckeyes only a week earlier.
And true, in their own home opener against Coastal Carolina, the Paladins fell short of a wonderful upset over the team that is now ranked first in the Football Championship Subdivision with a final score of 38-35 in favor of the Chanticleers.
With that in mind, though, the Coastal Carolina game showed signs of life for Furman. The team showed that they are every bit capable of making a run at the SoCon title.
Starting with the man under center, quarterback and red-shirt junior Reese Hannon opened the season with a strong showing of 365 passing yards and 400 total yards, setting a new single-game passing and total offense records.
Hannon completed passes to nine different Paladins. Senior wide receiver Jordan Snellings led the receiving core with 88 yards on six catches with one touchdown grab. Sophomore running back Antonio Wilcox grabbed seven passes for 84 yards to go along with redshirt sophomore wide out Logan McCarter who had a 57-yard reception. McCarter finished with three catches for 76 total yards.
Redshirt senior fullback Ernie Cain also had a day to remember. He rushed for 61 yards on seven attempts with three touchdowns.
As expected Cory Magwood paced the Furman defense with nine tackles to go along Carl Rider who had eight.
Yet as well as they played, it only took a few mistakes to make a difference. Hannon threw two interceptions that paired with some costly special teams mistakes giving the Chanticleers a leg up on the Paladins.
As for the Virginia Tech game, the Paladins kept it close in the first half only allowing one touchdown in each of the game’s opening quarters. But in the third quarter the floodgates opened as the Paladins surrendered three touchdowns to the Hookies. Furman also scored its only points of the game when John Croft Hollingsworth hit his third longest career field goal when he capitalized on a 49-yard attempt.
Freshman running back Triston Luke led the Paladins in rushing with 79 yards on nine attempts.
While these are some tough losses, there is still plenty of season left. Unlike the incomparable set up to the FBS system, Furman plays in a league that has a true playoff system.
After traveling down to play their last FBS foe, Central Florida Sept. 19, Furman’s conference play will begin on Sept.26 against Virginia Military Institute at home.
Despite what could be seen as a rough start, the Paladins will still have everything to play for and the skill to be able to compete for a SoCon title. A SoCon title which would guarantee the Paladins a spot in the FCS playoffs. Once you get there, anything can happen.