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Furman Throttles VMI, 24-10

Byron Johnson (Photo courtesy of Chuck Steenburgh)
Byron Johnson (Photo courtesy of Chuck Steenburgh)

LEXINGTON, VA. -- Reese Hannon passed for 291 yards and two touchdowns and Furman rode a strong defensive effort to claim a 24-10 victory over VMI in Southern Conference football action Saturday afternoon at Foster Stadium.

Hannon, a fifth year senior, continued his stellar play of late by connecting on 18-of-27 passes, including touchdown strikes covering 83 and eight yards, in helping Furman (2-6, 2-3 SoCon) win its second straight game.  The Greer, S.C., native added a career high 84 yards rushing to finish with 375 total yards.

"I thought we played pretty well, were aggressive, and tackled a little bit better," said Furman head coach Bruce Fowler following the win — Furman's second straight over VMI (3-5, 1-4 SoCon).  "The long touchdown pass got us going, gave us some confidence, and was a big difference in the game and, of course, their quarterback (Al Cobb) getting hurt I'm sure took away some things they wanted to do.  We're glad to win the game."

With Furman trailing 3-0, Hannon split a pair of VMI safeties with a pass to freshman wide receiver Thomas Gordon, who collected the spiral and outran the Keydet secondary for an 83-yard scoring strike, the eighth longest in program history, to give the Paladins a 7-3 first quarter lead.

Furman made it 14-3 in the second period with a nine-play, 92-yard drive that featured a 19-yard Hannon run and  37-yard Hannon hook-up with Logan McCarterAntonio Wilcox put a wrap on possession, bursting through the left side of the Keydet defensive line on an 11-yard scoring run.

A Hannon 46-yard pass to Gordon to the VMI 15 set up the Paladins' final tally of the half, which came on a Jon Croft Hollingsworth 26-yard field goal with 15 seconds left to send Furman into intermission with a 17-3 advantage.

The Paladins took control of the contest in the third period with their second nine-play, 92-yard scoring drive that Wilcox completed with an 8-yard shovel pass from Hannon for a 24-3 advantage.

VMI, which saw starting quarterback Al Cobb exit the contest late in the first half with a shoulder injury folliwng a sack by Paladin defensive end T.J. Warren, pulled within two touchdowns on backup quarterback Austin Coulling's 2-yard touchdown pass to Ryan Swingle with 11:39 remaining in the game,

Furman's defense kept it there, however, forcing the Keydets to punt from their 19 with 6:33 left, after which the Paladin offense fashioned 11 straight runs to the VMI 11, effectively running out the clock.

The Paladins posted their second straight 500-yard total offense effort, finishing with 506, including a season high 215 yards on the ground.

Wilcox had 13 carries for a season best 68 yards, and Gordon finished with three catches for a season high 142 yards.

Linebacker Carl Rider led Furman with nine tackles, and safety Trey Robinson had eight tackles and three pass breakups, including two on fourth down plays that ended VMI possessions.

Hannon's 291-yard passing performance gave him 1,494 yards and 15 touchdowns over the past five games.  Already the school's all-time passing and total offense leader, he improved his career numbers to 6,942 and 7,032 yards, respectively.

Furman entertains Wofford next Saturday in a 1:30 p.m. game at Paladin Stadium that will highlight Homecoming Weekend.

Hunter Reid, Furman Sports Information