After losing its first two contests on the final plays of each game and then falling to 0-3 after a loss to ACC member North Carolina State, the Furman football team was more than ready for a victory.
That happened this past Saturday when the Paladins traveled to New York and came away with a decisive 45-14 victory over Colgate. It was not only the first win of the season for Furman but the first for new head coach Clay Hendrix ’86, who returned to his alma mater last December following 10 years as an assistant coach at the Air Force Academy.
“It feels great to get that first victory,” said Hendrix, who played at Furman and spent 19 years as a Paladin assistant coach (1988-06) before going to Air Force. “I could not be prouder of our kids. They came in and played really well. Defensively, I don’t know if we could have played much better against a productive, hard-to-defend offense. They just set the tone for the entire game, and offensively we did a good job of capitalizing on it in the first half.”
The Paladins were indeed dominant on both sides of the football. Quarterback P.J. Blazejowski passed for 251 yards and three touchdowns and Furman converted three turnovers into first half touchdowns.
Blazejowski’s 61-yard scoring strike to freshman wide receiver Cam Burnette ignited a 21-point first quarter, which also featured a six-yard scoring run by Ridge Gibson and a six-yard touchdown pass from Blazejowski to Antonio Wilcox. Wilcox’s tally followed a sack by Chinedu Okonya, whose forced fumble was recovered by Chris Washington at the Raider 20.
The Paladins expanded their lead to 38-0 in the second quarter with a 29-yard Grayson Atkins field goal, 10-yard scoring run off a reverse by Thomas Gordon, and a seven-yard strike from Blazejowski to Darius Morehead.
Furman’s defense, which entered the game with only a pair of turnovers from the opposition, recovered three fumbles and registered five sacks.
True freshman linebacker Reynard Ellis, making his starting debut, headlined the Paladins’ defensive effort with 16 tackles, 1.5 tackles for-loss and a sack.
The Paladins finished with 391 yards in total offense, rushing for 140 yards and accounting for the 251 through the air.
The Paladins will host East Tennessee State in Paladin Stadium this Saturday (Sept. 30) in Southern Conference play. Kickoff is set for 1 p.m.