By: Sammy Clough, Columnist
The Furman Paladins football team rolled to their fourth straight victory after defeating Virginia Military Institute 42-10 on Military Appreciation Day last Saturday, Oct. 14.
The Dins came out of the gates hot to start the game, scoring a touchdown set up by a 44-yard P.J. Blazejowski run.
Furman counted on their running attack throughout the contest, recording a season-high 354 yards. Behind 84 yards and two touchdowns out of junior running back Kealand Dirks, the Paladins recorded their fourth straight 40-plus point game, a school record.
Following Dirks touchdown on the Paladins’ opening drive, Furman’s offense slowed down substantially. They finished the half getting stopped on the goal line and went into the locker room holding onto a 14-10 lead over VMI.
During halftime, the Furman community celebrated and honored the men and women that serve America through on-field Military Appreciation Day activities. A handful of ROTC cadets were sworn-in and The Paladin Regiment celebrated military veterans by playing the songs of each branch of the military. Halftime culminated with a helicopter flyover and the singing of America the Beautiful.
As the military veneration concluded, the Furman Paladins stormed back into the game to start the second half. The Paladins scored 28 unanswered points with touchdowns on its first four drives to start the second half.
Furman’s offense relied on their stout defense to get the ball back time and time again in the second half. Redshirt freshman Dillion Vann recorded an interception for the second straight game, and the Paladins’ defensive stronghold forced VMI to punt six times in the game.
After starting the season 0-3, Furman has truly played up to its potential as of late. After winning their last four games to give them a 4-3 record on the season, the Paladins have already surpassed their win total from last season in Clay Hendrix’s first season with the team.
The Paladins’ have dominated both at home and away.
Furman traveled to Chattanooga on Oct. 7,, and came away with a 41-17 victory over the Mocs. Behind 101 rushing yards for the game from Kealand Dirks, the Paladins exploded in the second quarter for 20 points. In a balanced run-pass game, P.J. Blazejowski recorded 138 yards through the air and connected with his season-favorite receiver Logan McCarter for 68 yards. Linebacker Dillion Vann returned an interception for a touchdown as the Paladins rolled over the Mocs.
Furman football will be back in action on Oct. 21 for the Homecoming game at 1:00 p.m. in Paladin Stadium as they host the Mercer Bears in yet another big SoCon battle. The Paladins will be facing a Mercer squad that is on a three-game win streak, and looks to possibly be second in the SoCon with a win.