By: Greg Peterson, Sports Editor
Photo Courtesy of Lois Ruffle
Despite playing in front of 56,166 people and a nationally televised audience on a pleasant September afternoon, the Furman Paladins could not handle ACC opponent NC State. The Paladins fell 49-16 at Carter-Finley Stadium.
The Paladins opening drive saw what would have been a three and out deep in their own territory, yet a roughing the passer call kept the drive alive. A couple of solid runs by sophomore running back Darius Morehead led to a career long 46 yard field goal by freshman Grayson Atkins, putting the Paladins ahead 3-0 with 9:53 left in the first quarter.
The Wolfpack countered with a 12 play, 75 yard touchdown on their first drive with 4:46 in the first that only took five minutes and seven seconds. NC State’s combination of quick passing and hard running led to the Wolfpack’s quick score.
After a Furman three and out, the Wolfpack marched down the field 60 yards and scored off a 30 yard pass from quarterback Ryan Finley. The touchdown put the Pack up 14-3 with 0:43 seconds left in the first quarter.
The Paladins responded by putting up a nice drive of their own. Led by a career long 45 yard run by junior running back Triston Luke, which put the Paladins in the Wolfpack’s red zone for the second time in the game. This led to another Atkins field goal, which was 34 yards deep with 12:24 left in the second quarter.
On the ensuing Paladin kickoff, a 50 yard return by Nyheim Hines put the Wolfpack in excellent field position. NC State took full advantage of the short field, and tacked on another touchdown, making it 21-6 with 9:34 left in the second quarter.
Just when the momentum seemed to be going the Wolfpack’s way, the Paladins put up a monster drive. Senior quarterback P.J. Blazejowski threw a 71 yard touchdown pass to senior tight-end Andy Shumpert. The touchdown was the longest of Shumpert’s career and put the Paladins within single digits, 21-13 with 2:35 left in the half.
Although it seemed that the Paladins had a chance to go into halftime with a single-digit deficit, the Wolfpack stormed down the field to make it a 28-13 game with only 18 seconds left in the first half. Furman was unable to do anything with the small chunk of time, and went into halftime trailing 28-13.
At the start of the second half, both NC State and Furman came up empty on their first possessions. After Furman could not convert on a third and long, senior John Croft Hollingworth’s punt was partially blocked, resulting with the Wolfpack starting their drive at midfield. The Wolfpack capitalized on the special team’s play, and scored with a 28 yard touchdown run with 7:10 left in the third quarter, making it 35-13.
The Pack’s defense started to come alive halfway through the third quarter. They intercepted a Blazejowski pass and returned it 47 yards for a touchdown. On the ensuing Furman position, NC State forced a fumble after tackling Blazejowski for a loss on a third and long on the Paladins’ 24 yard line. The end of the third quarter saw the Paladins down 36 points, 49-13.
The Paladins started the fourth quarter on a positive note by putting together a 46 yard drive that resulted in another 46 yard Grayson Atkins field goal. This was the only scoring play in the final quarter, as both teams put in their reserves to play the final minutes.
Despite the loss, Furman holds the all-time record over NC State, with an 8-5-4 record. The Dins won their previous two games against the Wolfpack in 1984 and 85. Furman will be back in action next Sat., Sept. 23 at Colgate University.
Furman Cornerback Quandarius Weems tries to stop NC State’s Stephen Lois from scoring a touchdown late in the second quarter.