Saturday, November 23, 2013

Fantastic Furman...aww, hell...WooHoo!!!!

It's a cloudy, cool fall afternoon at Paladin Stadium. 

Apparently we can't afford long pants for all cheerleaders.
A showdown with the Wofford Terriers is the day's agenda.  Victory will yield a share of the Southern Conference championship.  This and a win by the Samford Bulldogs will bring an automatic bid to the playoffs, ending a nine year drought.

The band is ready
So lets kick this thing off.  Paladins take the field!

Yes! Flawless entrance! Ooo, Sir Paladin looks impressed!
Didn't get thrown today. Boo yah!

Furman gets the ball first.  We've done well on first drives at home.  But today the offense stalls out. a condition which persists for the entire first quarter and most of the second, while Wofford is able to scratch out two long touchdown drives.  A 14-0 deficit is no way to kick off a playoff run. 

Sir Paladin's trusty mount, Fury, is getting anxious.
And then, in the middle of the 2nd quarter,  a long Furman drive.  Smeeling the end zone, the Paladin QB lobs a pass...into the hands of a Terrier defender. (Yap, yap, yap!) Le sigh!

Wait! What's this? Fumbllleee!  Throw it up top! TOUCHDOWNNNNN!!!!

A stop.  A drive.  A field goal.  And Furman trims the margin to 14-10 at halftime.

In the second half, the Paladins add to the momentum. A first drive stop is followed by a touchdown drive, and Furman takes the lead.

Still the Terriers are not the kind to fold their tents.  They drive into Furman territory and attempt a fake punt only to be turned back on an interception.  Furman converts the turnover into 7 points.

Again Wofford drives, threatening the endzone; only to be intercepted there as well.  again the Paladins convert a turnover into points.  A field goal makes the score 27-14 in favor of the Paladins.

Wofford takes the ball with 6:41 on the clock and drive to the Furman 7.  There they face a fourth and two, and gain only one yard! The Paladins take over with just over 2 minutes left.  And facing 3rd and 3, they do this...

In case, you can't tell, that is a 25 yard run!  And down 13 point with under two minutes left, Wofford coach Mike Ayers shows he's a class act and leaves his last time out in his pocket. 

Victory formation!

And now, a brief aside.  Furman is an institution that prides itself on graduating its student-athletes.  Despite its rigorous academic demands, from the late 70's to the early 90's, Furman was a football powerhouse.  Even becoming the first (and until a few years ago only) private school to win the NCAA I-AA (FCS) national championship.  The football team has won more SoCon titles than any other school.  But after a revival in the late 90's and early 2000's (including a national title runner up in 2001) it had not even sniffed a conference title since 2004 or a playoff appearance since 2006.

So I hope you can understand how special this moment is:

Let the flag wave proud.
Any comment, Sir Paladin?
That's right. Go Paladins!

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