By: Sammy Clough, Columnist
Photo Courtesy of Furman Athletics
After two weeks of exciting college football, the Furman Paladins unfortunately find themselves with two close losses against conference opponents.
This statement feels all too familiar, as Furman finds itself in an 0-2 hole to start the season for the third year in a row.
However, I am here to tell you that it should not feel the same!
In the new era of Paladin football under coach Clay Hendrix, Furman football is once again exciting despite the unfortunate outcomes of the first two games.
In the season opener against the top-ranked Southern Conference opponent Wofford, the Paladins came to play. A back-and-forth battle throughout the game, the Paladins found themselves down a touchdown with just under three minutes left in the game. After a 21-yard completion by senior P.J. Blazejowski to sophomore wide receiver Thomas Gordon, the Paladins had hope. The drive culminated in an inspiring 44-yard touchdown run by junior running back Triston Luke to put Furman down 24-23 with 45 seconds left in the game. A gutsy call by Coach Hendrix to go for a two point conversion led to an interception on the point after attempt, giving Wofford the ball up one, and icing the game for the Terriers.
After the painful loss on Sept. 2, the Paladins walked away with their heads held high. “It felt good to move the ball well,” said Luke in the week after the game, “we did a lot of good things that we didn’t do in the past.” Luke added that they have a “tremendous amount of confidence,” and that with better execution, a few plays could have changed that game.
The Paladins then met the Elon Phoenix in Paladin Stadium on Sept. 9 for the first home game of the season.
After a rocky start, Furman found itself down 21-0 at the end of the first quarter. In an incredible comeback effort, however, the Paladins went on a 31-3 run, putting them up 31-24 in the fourth quarter behind a touchdown and 95 yards receiving from WR Thomas Gordon. Unfortunately, their efforts were thwarted after a Phoenix touchdown and game-winning field goal as time expired. Elon handed Furman its second loss.
However soul-crushing these losses may feel, I encourage Furman fans to keep their heads up alongside the players. The new Paladin offense is explosive, and can hang with any other in the conference. The defense can be suffocating at times, as proved in the final three quarters against Elon. The problem right now seems to be execution in crunch time, which I believe will work itself out as Coach Hendrix and his new system settle in.
It feels like an exciting time once again for Furman football despite coming up short in their last two efforts.
The Paladins head to Raleigh on Sept. 16th with the hopes of upsetting the Wolfpack of NC State for their first non-conference game of the season.
Junior running back Triston Luke charges 44 yards downfield to score a touchdown in the closing seconds against Wofford College.