Furman quarterback Tyler Huff completed 21-of-22 passes and accounted for 335 yards of total offense four touchdown responsibilities (2-passing, 2-rushing), as the 13th-ranked Paladins finished off its first nine-win regular-season since 2005, trouncing of Wofford 63-28 in the regular-season and SoCon finale Saturday afternoon at Paladin Stadium.
The win sees the Paladins finish the regular-season with a 9-2 overall record and a 7-1 mark in league play, finishing second behind No. 9 Samford in the final regular-season Southern Conference standings. The Paladins will learn their FCS playoff fate on Sunday at 12:30 p.m., as the FCS Playoff Pairings will be announced on ESPNU. Wofford closes out its 2022 campaign at 3-8 overall and 3-5 in SoCon play.
Should Furman be selected to the field, it would mark the 19th all-time FCS playoff appearance and first time making the FCS postseason since 2019. Furman has not hosted an FCS playoff game since Nov. 26, 2005 when Nicholls State paid a visit to Paladin Stadium. Furman claimed a 14-12 win on that occasion.
The 63 points scored by the Paladins were the second-most ever scored by a Furman team in the rivalry, and most since posting a 69-0 win in 1920.
Wofford came out and took it to Furman, scoring on its first two possessions of the game, as quarterback Jimmy Weirick threw a 10-yard touchdown pass to Landon Parker on the opening possession and Nathan Parker plunged in from a yard out to conclude the Terriers’ second-straight 75-yard scoring drive, as the visitors from Spartanburg assumed a 14-7 lead with just under eight minutes remaining in the opening quarter of the Deep South’s oldest rivalry. Furman had a touchdown that sandwiched the two Terrier scores, as Ryan Miller hauled in his 26th career and school-record tying TD from Luke Shiflett on a short, 2-yard scoring pass on its first drive.
Furman would tie the football game on a 4-yard rumble from Dominic Roberto 3:57 left in the opening quarter. On Wofford’s next offensive possession, it would be the Paladin defense that would turn the tide of the football game, as Ivan Yates delivered a vicious hit on Wofford quarterback Jimmy Weirick, forcing him to fumble and the ball was recovered by Alex Maier at the Terrier 21.
Four plays later, Huff pulled off a beautiful play-action pass, fooling the entire Wofford defense and he lofted a perfect pass to a wide-open Ryan Miller for a 10-yard scoring connection in the back of the end zone to make it a 28-14 game with 13:41 left in the half.
Wofford was able to garner one first down on its next possession, but would eventually be forced to punt, and following a 56-yard bomb by Parker, the Furman offense were faced with rare bad field position to start its next drive, taking over at its own 16.
The Paladins, though, would put together one of its best offensive drives of the day as a result, with Huff leading the Paladins on a seven-play, 84-yard scoring drive, which would be capped by an 18-yard strike to Joshua Harris and 35-14 Furman lead with 8:20 remaining in the half.
Furman’s defense would once again set up the offense with excellent field position, as the Paladins got heavy pressure on Weirick and this time Cally Chizik delivered the bone-crushing hit, causing the ball to be underthrown, and picked off by Furman’s Micah Robinson at the Terrier 28. It took Furman just four plays and Huff ran it in from three yards out, capping Furman’s sixth-straight scoring possession and making it a 42-14 game with 5:41 left in the half.
Wofford battled back to cut Furman’s lead to 21, when Weirick engineered the Terriers’ third 75-yard scoring drive of the day. He finished off the drive with his second scoring strike of the game, finding senior Devin Matthews for a 22-yard scoring strike with 1:36 remaining in the half, making it a 42-21 game.
Huff made his only mistake of the game on Furman’s next offensive possession, as he threw his only incompletion of the day, which resulted in Wofford’s lone interception and turnover gained of the contest, as the Ocala, FL., native saw his pass intercepted by David Powers and the Terrier offense would take over at the Paladin 40 with 1:02 remaining in the half.
The Terriers drove the ball to the Furman 21, but had to settle for a Bridger Jones 38-yard field goal attempt, however, Furman defensive end Jack Barton broke through the line to deflect his fourth kick of the season and eighth overall for the Paladin special teams (7-blocked FGs/1blkd punt), and the ball was returned 33 yards by cornerback Travis Blackshear to run out the time in the opening half, as the Paladins assumed a 21-point lead heading into the half.
The Paladins would receive the opening kickoff of the second half, needing only seven plays to cover 65 yards, as Huff ran it in for his second rushing touchdown of the afternoon, this time finding paydirt from seven yards as he rushed straight up the middle to increase Furman’s advantage to 49-21.
Kendall Thomas added a 1-yard scoring run later in the quarter to make it a 56-21 with 4:08 left in the frame.
Fittingly, Furman’s final score came from what is believed to be a first in program history, which is an addendum to the blocked kick scenario—something that has become an “old reliable” for the Paladin special teams this season.
Nose guard Cameron Coleman bull-rushed the middle and overpowered Wofford center Anthony Garcia and got big paw up to block Bridger Jones’ field goal attempt, and Paladin All-SoCon cornerback Travis Blackshear was able to scoop up the loose ball and race 65 yards for the score with 15 seconds remaining in the third quarter to give the Paladins a 63-21 lead with 15 seconds remaining in the third quarter.
It’s believed to be the first blocked kick return for a score or two-point conversion in program history. Furman’s second blocked kick of the game was its nation-leading ninth of the season.
Wofford’s final score of the day came in the fourth quarter when Kyle Parsons capped off an eight-play, 68-yard drive with a 5-yard scoring run to make it 63-28, with 5:44 remaining in the contest.
Huff led a Furman offense that edged the Wofford in total yards, as the Paladins posted a 469-465 advantage in total output. Huff finished connecting on the aforementioned 21-of-22 throws for 295 yards with two TDs and an INT, while rushing for 40 yards and another two scores to close out another big day.
Huff’s favorite target in the passing attack Saturday was Joshua Harris, who turned in another huge day catching the football on the heels of his career-high 146-yard effort in last week’s win at Mercer. He finished with eight catches for 112 yards and a touchdown.
Miller’s two receiving scores takes him to 27 for his career. That eclipses former Chas Fox’s career record 26 scoring catches, which he recorded from 1982-85 as a teammate of head coach Clay Hendrix.
Roberto had another strong day running the ball for the Paladins, finishing with 16 rush attempts for 90 yards and a pair of TDs.
Defensively, the Paladins were led by Travis Blackshear and Braden Gilby, as both posted five tackles apiece. Blackshear added a 65-yard blocked field goal return for a score, while Gilby had half-a-sack and a quarterback hurry.
The Paladins recorded INTs No. 15 and 16 of the season, respectively, as both Caleb Williams and Micah Robinson finished the game with INTs. For Williams, it marked his first-career INT as a Paladin.
Weirick led the Terriers in the contest, as he connected on 25-of-42 throws for 428 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions.
Post-Game Press Conference: