By Alex Wilcox, Contributor
Saturday’s homecoming game, as always, was a joyous occasion. But this year, that came with the exception of the performance by the Paladins against conference foe The Citadel.
The packed stadium full of Paladin and Bulldog fans alike was one of the more electric games of the season.
The first drive of the game for the Paladins put Furman up 7-0 after a seven-play, 60-yard drive capped off by a 20-yard pass from Reese Hannon to redshirt junior Chad Scott. But The Citadel fired back, and the first quarter ended with the Paladins and Bulldogs tied at seven a piece.
The Paladins had difficulty defending the option in the second quarter, and it showed as the Bulldogs ran in two touchdowns and converted a field goal. The Citadel only threw the ball three times that quarter. The offense looked insufficient during this span as well, as they could not stay out on the field much longer than to go three and out, causing the defense to get little rest between runs.
At halftime the score stood at 24 to 7 with The Citadel leading.
The offense looked reinvigorated coming out of halftime. Redshirt senior fullback Ernie Cain had a big run for 34 yards on a drive that eventually ended on a trick play in which redshirt sophomore wide receiver Logan McCarter threw a touchdown to junior tight end Duncan Fletcher.
The ingenuity in play calling was derived from Reese Hannon’s injury on the previous play, stemming from a tackle by The Citadel linebacker James Riley, injuring Hannon for the remainder of the game.
Sophomore quarterback P.J. Blazejowski received another chance to see the field after several starts last season in a noteworthy season as a true freshman.
Between an illegal formation penalty, a sack and the inability to get any large gains, the Paladins finally reached field goal range late in the third quarter, where Jon Croft Hollingsworth tacked on three more points making the score 24-17 favoring the Citadel.
The Bulldogs responded with several runs for first downs and finally a 50-yard pass to put them right at one-yard line. A run of one yard and a made extra point put a gassed Furman team in an even worse position.
The start of the fourth quarter began with Furman punt, and this continued back and forth by both team, essentially trading three and outs until around the seven-minute mark.
An interception for 30 yards led to a Bulldog touchdown, only to be followed up by another interception by The Citadel. The game went down with the Bulldogs running time off the clock as the Furman defense was being drug to the line play after play.
The following week, the Paladins had a historic comeback in Birmingham, AL. against SoCon foe Samford.
Furman was down 17-0 at halftime but came storming back to score 20 unanswered points to improve to 4-4 on the season and 2-2 in the SoCon.
Sophomore running back Antonio Wilcox paced the Paladins on the ground with a career high 133 of their season high 252 yards. Wilcox also rushed for a 43-yard touchdown on the Paladins opening drive of the second to ignite the Paladin offense.
Hollingsworth once again came through in clutch as he booted two fourth quarter field goals. The second one coming on the last play of regulation to win the game for the Paladins.