GREENVILLE, S.C -- Coming off an impressive offensive display in a 56-35 triumph over East Tennessee State, Furman hits the road for the fourth time this season when it travels to Chattanooga to face the Mocs this Saturday in a 4:00 p.m. ESPN3 Southern Conference showdown at Finley Stadium.
Furman (2-3, 1-1 SoCon) has struggled of late against Chattanooga (1-4, 1-1 SoCon), dropping the last five meetings, but the Paladins have enjoyed notable success in Chattanooga over the years, posting a 15-8 record there, including an 8-2 mark against the Mocs in Finley Stadium. UTC captured last year's meeting in Greenville, 21-14, but Furman leads the all-time series, 27-19.
To extend its winning streak to three games, the program's longest since the 2015 campaign, first-year head coach Clay Hendrix's squad will look to keep its offensive cylinders firing as it did last Saturday against East Tennessee State, when Furman rolled up 609 total yards in balanced fashion (308 yards rushing, 301 passing).
Senior quarterback P.J. Blazejowski has been an effective trigger-man, and particularly in the last two games, combining to complete 30-of-42 pass attempts for 552 yards and six touchdowns in victories over Colgate and ETSU. Against the Bucs last Saturday the St. Augustine, Fla., product connected on 17-of-22 passes for 301 yards and three touchdowns covering 32, 30, and 64 yards. The Paladin signal caller ranks fourth in the Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) in passing efficiency (178.4 rating) and is throwing the ball down the field more effectively than anybody in the nation, as evidenced by his 19.2 passing yards per completion average — tops in the country.
Forced to contend without the services of the squad's leading receiver, injured sophomore Thomas Gordon, against ETSU< Blazejowski spread the wealth among his cast of options led by senior wideout Logan McCarter (16 rec., 335 yds., TD), who had a career day with seven catches for 178 yards and a touchdown. Senior tight end Andy Schumpert (9 rec., 192 yds., 3 TDs), who on Wednesday was named SoCon Student-Athlete of the Week, also contributed in a big way, hauling in four passes for 72 yards and two scores.
Furman's ground attack, which featured nine ballcarriers against ETSU, was headlined by redshirt junior Kealand Dirks's 15-carry, 100-yard, two-touchdown performance and redshirt freshman Darius Moorehead, who ran 13 times for a career high 97 yards and two scores.
Defensively the story for the Paladins of late has been a swarming pass rush that has combined to tally 11 sacks in the last two outings, including six takedowns versus ETSU. Furman's 17 sacks thru five games lead the SoCon and easily top last year's tally of 12 in 11 games.
The Paladins count just one senior in their 22-man defensive two-deep and had three freshmen in their starting defensive lineup last Saturday. Altogether 25 freshmen have seen action for Furman in 2017.
Among the high impact newcomers is placekicker Grayson Atkins, the Inman, S.C., native who paces the SoCon in kick scoring (39 points, 6x7 FGs, 21x21 PATs)
The Furman-Chattanooga game will radio broadcast over the Furman IMG Sports Network, headed up by flagship station Fox Sports 1440. It will also be streamed through FurmanPaladins.com and via the Tune-In and iHeart applications. Dan Scott, "The Voice of the Paladins", is set to deliver the play-by-play, and he will be joined on the broadcast by analyst David Cobb. Former Paladin defensive back standout Marcus McMorris will provide sideline reports.
SidearmSports live stats, driven by Chattanooga and featuring the consistently baffling "StatMeter", can be accessed through FurmanPaladins.com.
Priced at $20, tickets can be secured online here or through FurmanPaladins.com.
Hunter Reid, Furman Sports Information