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I didn’t play college football. I spent college hanging around football, and … the occasional library that did not use the Dewey Decimal System. This observation I made while playing in high school. No one ever told me this. It’s just a private view.

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Monte Dutton

At some point in every season there comes a game in which everything is a struggle. Calls go the other way. Strange occurrences abound.

It seems as if the playing field is forever tilted the other way. It’s all uphill. Winning such games separates the champion from the good team.

Furman’s 27-14 victory over East Tennessee State on Saturday night was such a game.

I wasn’t there. Elena Davidson went up to take photos. I watched every second on TV, at least when I wasn’t writing about it in real time. That used to be called “writing a running.” It’s a method of getting a story in on tight deadline. The hardest “runnings” I ever wrote were at the annual Bristol Night Race, which took place about 20 miles or so from Greene Stadium at the same time. I didn’t watch a second of that race. As this is written, all in the world I know about that race – my job was writing about NASCAR for 20 years – is that Chris Buescher won it. This I heard by word of Twitter.

I don’t multi-task to the extent of the young. I’m triple-task – game on TV, stats in one laptop window, Word file another – at my very best.

Even though I don’t follow NASCAR as closely as I once did, NASCAR was the reason I didn’t drive to Johnson City, Tenn. The round trip would have been in race traffic up and race traffic back. It wasn’t too long ago that I drove from Gainesville, Texas, home, stopping only for gas, coffee and cheap food, all in the same pit stops. But I can’t stay awake like that in bumper-to-bumper traffic. Once upon a time, when I was a lad and far less experienced, I would have driven 1st to Cullowhee to watch Western Carolina obliterate Presbyterian, then hightailed it to Johnson City to watch the Paladins.

Now I’ve gone all Toby Keith, only more sensibly. I’m just as good once as I ever was. High schools (LaurensCountySports.com) occupied me to 4 on Saturday morning. The Furman game – writing, editing Elena’s photos, waiting for this and that, filling in blanks – kept me up till 2.

There’s no substitute for being there, but it’s my job to try.

Motivation is everything. With four hours’ sleep, I was struggling with Presbyterian’s 77-21 avalanche at Western Carolina. I might have missed the 2nd half if I didn’t own a guitar, but the lyrics weren’t easy.

When 7:30 arrived, after 10 between-game McNuggets, I was ready. It was a great game of ordeal and triumph. The satisfaction is greater now. While it was played, I was a nervous wreck, like the ones at Bristol.

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George Quarles may be off to a rough start, but to borrow the word used profusely by the analyst of the PC game, that sonuvagun has a good football team. I expect Quarles will be fine as he coaches more and more of his own recruits. Almost everyone remotely involved in sports says it so it must be right. It’s “a culture change.”

ETSU is good, but Furman’s better.

The Furman defensive front looked like the Fearsome Foursome, the Steel Curtain, the Doomsday Defense and the Purple People Eaters all acting in tandem.

It’s the Fearsome Purple Doomsday Curtain.

As Clay Hendrix pointed out, the Paladins played opposite the Southern Conference’s preseason offensive player of the year and 1st-team all-conference running back and wide receiver.

Tyler Reddick is fine, but Tyler Huff matched him in finery and surpassed him in guts. A sentence he uttered to Marcus McMorris on the radio postgame show might be adapted into the title of his career: “I’m just a ballplayer.”

He’s also modest.

Neither Tyler was flawless. Both were heady and composed. Huff was tough as saddle leather. He rammed into a couple ETSU defenders as if taking on Peterbilts with a Mustang.

Not only did Huff walk away. He walked back on for the game-clinching drive. Or, rather, the game-clinching dash by Dominic Roberto. Huff led the blocking down the long, lonesome right sideline. He threw the only downfield block that mattered.

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North Greenville had little to do with Clemson, which had little to do with East Tennessee State. College students take tests in many disciplines.

So far this group of Paladins is on the football dean’s list.