November 18, 2013

Sports Network Names Furman's Early National Player Of The Week

GREENVILLE, S.C. -- The Sports Network on Monday named Furman placekicker/punter Ray Early its national special teams player of the week for his record setting performance in the Paladins' 32-20 victory over Western Carolina on Saturday.

The honor is Early's second this season from The Sports Network, which recognized the Paladin senior following Furman's 16-14 triumph over Georgia Southern on Nov. 2.  He picked up his third Southern Conference Special Teams Player of the Week scroll this season — and fifth of his career — earlier today, and also garnered College Football Performance Awards National Placekicker of the Week accolades for his play against Chattanooga on Oct. 14.

Early established a new Furman record and tied a SoCon standard by kicking six field goals and adding two PATs to personally account for 20 of the Paladins' 32 points in the win over Western Carolina.  He also deposited seven of nine kickoffs into or out of the end zone for touchbacks and averaged 41.3 yards on three punts, one of which was downed at the Catamount 13.

The senior from Darlington, S.C., gave Furman a 12-0 first half lead by booting field goals covering 48, 24, 40, and 39 yards.  His lone miss of the game, from 39 yards, came on the final play of the first half.  In the second half he added kicks from 30 and 32 yards to complete his performance, which broke the previous record of five field goals set by Glen Connally versus East Tennessee State in 1990.

After missing his first three field goal attempts this season, Early has rallied to convert 17 of his last 19 attempts, including six from 40-plus yards.  His 17 field goals are the second most in a season by a Paladin  and one shy of the record currently held by Mike Wood (18x28, 1986).

Early's 20-point outing, which also is the most by a Furman kicker, vaulted him to fourth on the school's all-time kick scoring list with 233 points.

In addition to leading the SoCon in field goals made per game (1.5) and field goal percentage (77.3 percent 17-of-22), he tops the league and ranks 11th nationally in punting (43.6 avg.).  He has recorded touchbacks on 32 of his 56 kickoffs this fall.

Furman plays host to Wofford this Saturday at noon at Paladin Stadium, needing a victory to secure a share of the 2013 SoCon championship.