|Posted by Alexander Dodd on September 9, 2015 at 12:00 AM|
Travelers Rest, SC–A single game passing record, 500+ yards total offense, and 35 points, the recipe seemed perfect for a Furman win but none-the-less they fell 38-35 to Coastal Carolina on Saturday night.
Fans experienced no shortness of excitement in Paladins Stadium with a combined 1013 yards of offense and 78 points in a game that came down to the final minute.
Coastal Carolina began the 2015 season receiving the ball and wasted no time getting into the end zone. Alex Ross completed his first of two touchdowns to Bruce Mapp with 11:21 remaining to take a 7-0 lead.
However, Furman fought back, immediately going 77 yards in 12 plays over five minutes, capped off by a one yard touchdown by FB Ernie Cain.
“We’re trying to get back to smash mouth football” said the senior and they did just that.
Ernie Cain and sophomore tailback Antonio Wilcox combined for over 100 yards on the ground behind a veteran offensive line that showed a push Paladin fans have missed for years.
The following kickoff proved costly for the Paladins as Devin Brown took Holingsworth’s kick 100 yards to give Coastal their second score in six minutes of gameplay. Following a two point conversion the Chanticleers took a 15-7 lead in the first quarter.
After forcing a punt, Coastal mounted a 12 play 90 yard touchdown drive prolonged by two personal foul calls against the Paladin defense. “We made some careless penalties” said Furman head coach Bruce Fowler, “hopefully we’ll get that cleaned up, so we can continue to move forward.”
Furman tallied nine penalties for 60 yards over the course of the game. A failed two-point try gave Coastal a 21-7 lead with 12:31 to go in the first half.
With under three minutes to go in the half, the Paladins scored in back to back drives to tie the game at 21. On these drives Junior QB Reese Hannon showed flashes of greatness as he completed two huge passes to Logan McCarter (one for 11 yard and another for 57) to prolong Paladin drives.
“I was very proud of that” said Ernie Cain in reference to the fight shown by Furman in situations where a lot of team would have given up. Cain rushed for three touchdowns in the first half and accounted for 61 yards on Saturday night.
Coastal scored once in a sluggish third quarter, off an Abercrombie run, to take a 28-21 lead heading into the last 15 minutes.
The Paladins were given a major opportunity to start the 4th when Coastal failed on a fake field goal. Furman proceeded to score on a 33 yard pass from Reese Hannon to Andrej Suttles. Hannon passed for 365 yards, setting a Paladin single game record, and throwing for two touchdowns.
“When guys around you play like they did tonight it’s hard not to have some success” said Hannon.
Furman failed to get the PAT due to a bad snap so the score was 28-27 CCU with 12:09 remaining in the contest.
The Chanticleers struck back on their next drive on a 24 yard touchdown pass from Ross to Mapp and took a 35-27 lead. On Furman’s next drive Hannon was intercepted, his second, on a forced throw to Duncan Fletcher at the Paladin 25. The Chants took advantage of this opportunity with a Ryan Granger field goal to extend the CCU lead to 38-27 with 4:30 remaining.
On Furman’s next possession, Hannon mounted an impressive 11 play 81 yard drive, aided by a CCU pass interference, capped off by a 9 yard pass to Jordan Snelling to make it a one score game at 38-33. The Paladins completed a two point conversion as Reese found Snelling on a slant pattern at the goal line to force a 38-35 game with 1:06 to play.
Alex Scearce made the play of the game for Coastal recovering the Hollingsworth onside kick that ultimately sealed the victory for the 5th ranked Chanticleers.
Despite the loss the Paladins found a plethora of positives to build on moving forward. For starters, they played possibly the best offense in FCS football and outpaced the Chanticleers. Furman ran 72 plays for 525 yards while Coastal Carolina ran 70 plays for 488.
Another positive takeaway is the Paladins know they have three quality running backs in Antonio Wilcox (13 carries 50 yards), Ernie Cain (7 carries 61 yards 3 touchdowns), and Triston Luke who showed speed and power in limited action Saturday night (4 carries 22 yards.)
These three will prove critical to Furman’s success or failure in Southern Conference play. The Paladins also showed a renewed spirit and fierce tenacity on Saturday night, “they’re pretty resilient (and) confident” said coach Bruce Fowler “our players really kept their poise.”
However there is still plenty Furman can improve on. On the defensive side of the ball the Paladins just could not seem to force any pressure on Alex Ross. Furman only forced one sack and in turn Coastal Carolina seemingly asserted their will on the Paladin secondary. “Defensively we have to get off blocks quicker” said Coach Fowler, “[and] do better on third down.”
Offensively they will need more production from Sr. WR Jordan Snellings who was extremely quiet in the first half on Saturday night. Ten catches a game from Snellings would allow the Paladins to further gash opposing defenses.
This weekend Furman treks up to Blacksburg, VA to face off against Virginia Tech in Lane Stadium.
You can look forward to more Paladin coverage this week on Dodd Sports Network (www.doddsportsnetwork.webs.com) as well as the Sports Connector (www.sportsconnectoronline.com).