Battle for Purple Supremacy set for Saturday in Greenville

Furman and Western Carolina are set to do battle in a key Southern Conference in a 2 p.m. SoCon tilt Saturday afternoon at Paladin Stadium.

The clash between the Paladins and Catamounts has affectionately become known as “The Battle of Purple Supremacy” between the two SoCon rivals.

The rivalry between the Paladins and Catamounts began back in 1971, with Furman claiming a 21-14 win in Greenville. The Catamounts would even the series a year later by getting a 24-15 win in Cullowhee.

The Catamounts joined the Southern Conference as an official member back in 1976, and the rivalry would ramp up with a pair of meetings on the gridiron in 1983. The regular season clash between the Paladins and Catamounts would see the two teams tie what a thrilling clash between the two teams that don purple as their primary color in the Southern Conference, with that particular game finishing in a 17-17 tie in Cullowhee.

The two would meet again in the Division I-AA playoffs, with the Catamounts and Paladins doing battle in the Division I-AA Semifinals at Paladin Stadium, with the winner to become the first team in Southern Conference history to represent the Southern Conference in the Division I-AA national title a week later in Charleston, S.C., at The Citadel’s Johnson-Hagood Stadium.

In what was a defensive struggle, it would be Bob Waters’ Catamounts that would end up knocking off the Dick Sheridan-led Furman Paladins, claiming a 14-7 win on Furman’s home turf. A large crowd of Catamount fans made the short, two-hour trek down from Jackson County, N.C., and proceeded to tear down the goalpost on one end of Paladin Stadium.

former Furman running back Leonardo McClarty

The Catamounts would go on to face Southern Illinois in the national championship game, dropping what was a 43-7 decision at Johnson-Hagood Stadium.

The first two decades of this rivalry saw some of the most heated battles between the two, and the Catamounts have been one of the more successful Southern Conference teams to come to Paladin Stadium over the years, having won a total of six games in the facility since it opened in 1981.

The Catamounts are 6-15 in the facility all-time, which is tied with Appalachian State and The Citadel among SoCon current or former SoCon foes for most wins inside the Paladins’ home facility. Only Chattanooga (8) and Georgia Southern (7) have more wins all-time at Paladin Stadium.

At one time, the Catamounts actually owned a respectable 5-3 mark inside Paladin Stadium following a 35-24 win at Paladin Stadium in 1994. Since that win, which saw the Catamounts overcome a 16-7 halftime deficit to come away with a 35-24 win, the Catamounts have gone 1-12 at Paladin Stadium, with the lone win in Greenville coming in 2014, as the Catamounts posted an impressive 35-17 win in Greenville on that particular occasion.

The Paladins come in owning an all-time record of 179-64-1 record in their 42nd season of football inside the facility. Furman has posted a 1-1 record at home this season, with a 52-0 win over North Greenville and a 34-27 loss to No. 16 Samford.

The Catamounts ended Furman’s five-game winning streak in the series last season, posting a 43-42 win over the ‘Dins in Cullowhee.

The win marked just the second time in Furman football history in which the Paladins have had a running back rush for at least 175 yards and lost a football game. The Paladins had been 28-1 in such games entering last season’s clash with the Catamounts, however, despite 196 yards and four TDs rushing from Dominic Roberto, the Paladins fell by a point at E.J. Whitmire Stadium to fall to 28-2 in such games. (Special thanks to Scott Keeler of the Furman Sports Report for the previous stat). The only other running back to rush for 175 yards or more in a Furman loss is Louis Ivory in 2000 in a 23-21 loss in the mini-Dome at East Tennessee State, as Ivory went for 223 yards in the narrow road loss.

Saturday’s contest will mark the 50th renewal of the rivalry, with the Paladins holding a 34-13-2 all-time series edge. Check out the link below for a full preview of Saturday’s matchup in Greenville.

2021 Game Highlights

Published by soconjohn

I am a lover of all things SoCon, and I have had a passion to write about, follow and tell the world about this great conference for pretty much my entire life. While I do love the SoCon, and live in the SoCon city, which is home to the Furman Paladins, have a passion for sports in general, with college football and college hoops topping the list.

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