Furman football finishes its 2-week trip down Memory Lane when The Citadel visits Paladin Stadium for the season’s only night home game on Saturday.
The Wofford Terriers, whom the Paladins defeated last Saturday in Spartanburg, are the oldest rival, dating back to 1889. Furman and The Citadel represent the Southern Conference’s oldest active football rivalry. Fittingly, the Bulldogs’ visit is on Military Appreciation Day, though it’s mostly a night since kickoff is at 6 p.m.
Furman head coach Clay Hendrix told Dan Scott in this week’s Facebook Live/YouTube show that the Paladins are preparing to face “a typical Citadel [triple-option] offense.”
“They’re going to try to limit your possessions,” he said. “They’d love for it to be a close, close game (with) a limited number of plays.
“They’re a little unorthodox on defense, difficult to locate. It’ll be a tough challenge for us, just like it always is.”
It’s the first night game at Paladin Stadium since 2016 and will be live-streamed via ESPN3 and aired over flagship ESPN Upstate and its four affiliated stations; 97.7 FM/1330 AM in Greenville; and 97.1 FM/950 AM in Spartanburg. The broadcast can also be accessed via Audacy.com, as well as through FurmanPaladins.com.
Members of the SoCon since 1936, Furman and The Citadel have squared off on the gridiron every year since 1919, save three years during World War II. The Paladins had the upper hand over the series’ first 100 meetings, posting a 60-37-3 advantage, and are 34-15 versus The Citadel in Greenville. The Bulldogs, however, have won the last two clashes, including last year’s 26-7 verdict in Charleston. Two years ago The Citadel claimed a 27-10 decision at Paladin Stadium.
The Citadel has rushed for nearly twice as many yards as Furman, which has passed for nearly twice as many as the Bulldogs.
Furman (3-2, 1-1 SoCon) returns home to face its historic arch-rival with renewed vigor coming off the Wofford win that snapped a 2-game losing streak.
“I think the biggest thing is confidence,” said Hendrix. “Now we’ll just see how it goes from here. I’ve said all along I thought we were close to playing really well, particularly offensively. We’ve been pretty good defensively all along.”
With a couple exceptions – Wofford used big plays to take leads of 10-0 and 17-7 early – the Paladin defense shut the Terriers down.
Said junior linebacker Braden Gilby to Scott, “We’re coming together. We just need to get a few minor details straight. … We need to get things fixed for The Citadel, an option team. Everyone’s got to be assignment-sound. It’ll take some hard work and preparation in practice this week.
“Everyone’s got to be on their assignment. If one person’s off, we’re all wrong. It’s as simple as that. What it comes down to is everyone doing their job.”
The Paladins, who struggled offensively in three of their first four games, popped the offensive hood during their off week and made adjustments, most noticeably at quarterback, where freshman Jace Wilson responded in his 1st career start by completing 14 of 23 passes for 189 yards and a touchdown, while also running for a score against the Terriers. Wilson’s new status was complemented by Furman’s ground game that chewed up Wofford for 289 yards and 5 touchdowns, headlined by senior tailback Devin Wynn’s 31-carry, 204-yard, 2-touchdown performance. Wynn also continued to display his versatile skill set with a 26-yard touchdown reception in the victory.
Of Wilson, Hendrix said, “I think his greatest strength is his poise. In the short time that he’s been here, not a lot bothers him. He doesn’t get rattled, in spite of the pressure on him, and for him that’s a positive.
“I’m proud of him. His teammates put him in position to make some plays. He’ll be a fun guy to watch going forward.”
With The Citadel (2-3, 1-1 SoCon) undoubtedly planning to key on Wynn, the Paladins will hope to use other weapons in their arsenal, including All-America tight end Ryan Miller (20 rec., 308 yds., 2 TDs) and wideouts Ryan DeLuca (career 65 rec., 1,020 yds., 9 TDs) and Joshua Harris (16 rec., 197 yds., TD).
The 42-point outburst against Wofford, which featured a 35-3 run, allowed the Paladins to overcome a pair of 10-point 1st-half deficits and provide some breathing room for Furman’s defense, which tops the SoCon in fewest yards allowed (334.0 ypg) despite enjoying limited support in the last two games.
The Paladins’ veteran defensive front, headlined by seniors Landon Lawrence (48 games), London Lewis, Adrian Hope (35 games, 106 tackles, 32.0 TFL) and Parker Stokes (46 games, 92 tackles), along with junior Cameron Coleman, is sure to get a stern test from The Citadel’s league leading running game (282.0 ypg).
The Paladins sported a pair of 1st-time starters in the secondary versus Wofford, including Micah Robinson at cornerback and Caden Richards at the SPUR position.
“We have to match the intensity level we had at Wofford,” Hendrix said, “That’s got to continue. At the end of the day, the execution’s got to be there because without execution, the intensity doesn’t matter.”
Furman and representatives from the National Football Foundation (NFF) & College Hall of Fame will combine to salute Paladin coaching great Dick Sheridan during Saturday’s contest. A member of both Furman and South Carolina Athletic Halls of Fame, Sheridan is a member of the NFF College Football Hall of Fame Class of 2020 that will be officially inducted on Dec. 7 in Las Vegas, Nev. Sheridan came to Furman in 1973 assistant coach and was named head coach in 1978, which he followed by directing Furman to the 1st Southern Conference football championship in program history. In an 8-year Paladin head coaching tenure, during which time he spearhead the construction of Paladin Stadium (1981), he led Furman to six league crowns and 1985 NCAA I-AA (FCS) national runner-up finish, finishing with a coaching record of 69-23-2.
Capping Saturday’s contest will be a fireworks show, set to begin approximately 10 minutes following the conclusion of the game.
The Game: Furman Paladins (3-2, 1-1 SoCon) vs. The Citadel Bulldogs (2-3, 1-1 SoCon)
Game Sponsor: Bon Secours
Date: Saturday, October 16, 2021
Site: Greenville, S.C. (Paladin Stadium, on the campus of Furman University)
Kickoff: 6:05 PM ET
Video Stream: ESPN3 (Mark Childress, pbp), Cole Neely (analyst)
Radio: Van Wagner/Furman Sports Network (ESPN Upstate: 97.7 FM/1330 AM, Greenville; 97.1 FM/950 AM, Spartanburg); Audacy.com; FurmanPaladins.com: Dan Scott (pbp), David Cobb (analyst); Marcus McMorris (sideline); Tom Van Hoy (spotter/pre-game & halftime host)
Tickets: Tickets can be purchased at the Timmons Arena Box Office, located in the lobby of Timmons Arena, and at the East Stands Box Office of Paladin Stadium beginning at Noon. All single game credit card transactions are charged a 2.5 percent convenience fee online, over the phone, or at the box office. All ticket sales are final. No exchanges, no refunds.
Furman GameDay Schedule Of Events (vs. The Citadel)
2:00 PM — Parking Lots Open
3:00 PM — Furman Fan Zone Opens (Live Music Begins at Noon)
4:00 PM — Box Offices Open
4:30 PM — Furman Band & Spirit Perform (Ingles Concert Stage)
4:30 PM — Paladin Stadium Gates Open, Champions Walk Begins
5:30 PM — Furman Fan Zone Closes & Wicked Weed Endzone Experience Opens
6:05 PM — Kickoff