GREENVILLE, S.C -- Furman's surging football team will take aim for its fourth straight victory Saturday when it plays host to VMI in a 1:00 p.m. Southern Conference ESPN broadcast contest that will highlight Military Appreciation Day at Furman University.
The Paladins (3-3, 2-1 SoCon) are coming off an impressive 41-17 road triumph over Chattanooga that Clay Hendrix, Furman's first year Bobby Johnson Head Football Coach, labeled his squad's "most complete performance of the year" and the program's third straight win following decisions over Colgate and East Tennessee State.
Furman has won its last 12 meetings against VMI (0-6, 0-3 SoCon) in Greenville and sports an 11-0 mark versus the Keydets in Paladin Stadium. Last year Furman claimed a 24-10 verdict in Lexington.
The Paladins' uptick has been powered by contributions on both sides of the line. Furman has registered three straight 40+ point performances for the first time since 2005 in beating Colgate (45-14), East Tennessee Sate (56-35), and Chattanooga, and the trifecta has featured impressive balance, evidenced by the Paladins averaging 246.0 yards on the ground and 234.3 yards per game passing over the span.
Senior quarterback P.J. Blazejowski, ranked third in passing efficiency (183.29 rating) in the Football Championship Subdivision (FCS), has been superb of late, connecting on 37-of-55 passes for 690 yards and nine touchdowns in the three-game winning streak, with his favorite targets, senior wide receiver Logan McCarter (18 rec., 403 yds., 3 TDs) and senior tight end Andy Schumpert (14 rec., 238 yds., 4 TDs), contributing in a big way.
Furman's ground attack, powered by a steadily maturing offensive line headed up by senior center Matthew Schmidt, battered Chattanooga for 290 yards last Saturday, with redshirt junior Kealand Dirks leading the way with 19 carries for 101 yards — his second straight 100-yard performance, redshirt freshman Darius Morehead (310 yds., 4 TDs), and senior Antonio Wilcox (259 yds., 4 TDs).
The work of the Paladin defense has been equally solid, limiting Chattanooga to only seven total rushing yards and the opposition to just 95 total yards on the ground in the last three games. Any success opponents have had through the air has come with a big price as Furman has registered 14 quarterback sacks over the last three games and 20 on the season — tops in the SoCon and spread among 14 players.
Junior safety Aaquil Annoor leads Furman with 40 tackles and a pair of interceptions. His pickoff last week against UTC was the first of four interceptions in the contest.
A trio of young performers, including true freshmen linebackers Elijah McKoy and Reynard Ellis, who sport 32 and 31 tackles, respectively, and redshirt sophomore bandit Chris Washington (32 tackles, 2 sacks), have delivered impressive play for defensive coordinator Chad Staggs' unit, which features only one senior in the two-deep.
In addition to honoring our nation's military personnel, Furman will introduce its 2017 Athletics Hall of Fame class at Saturday's game following Friday night's induction ceremony in downtown Greenville. They include All-America football cornerback William Middleton '08, basketball forward Chuck Vincent '98, tennis performer Monica Arguello '11, and men's golfer Ken Ezell '77.
The Game: Furman Paladins (3-3, 2-1 SoCon) vs. VMI Keydets (0-6, 0-3 SoCon) / Military Appreciation Day
Site: Greenville, S.C. (Paladin Stadium, on the campus of Furman University)
Kickoff: 1:04 PM ET
Broadcast: ESPN3, Bob Mihalic (pbp), Sam Wyche (color), Scott Cole (sideline)
Radio: Furman IMG Sports Network (FoxSports 1440/Greenville): Dan Scott (pbp), David Cobb (color), Marcus McMorris (sideline)
Audio Stream: StretchAudio (accessible thru FurmanPaladins.com), iHeart Radio, and TuneIn.com
Live Stats: StatBroadcast.com (FurmanPaladins.com)
Tickets: $20 Available (FurmanPaladins.com); Children 38 inches and shorter admitted free; Timmons Arena, East Stands
Box Offices Open 11:00 AM
Special Ticket Offer No. 1: All active military personnel and veterans can receive two complimentary tickets and purchase additional tickets for the reduced rate of $10/ticket at the gate.
Special Ticket Offer No. 2 (Online Only!): Fans can secure a regularly priced $20 ticket for $15 (for all sections, except section 3) through FurmanPaladins.com by using the promotion code "Fallball" at check-out. The promotion also provides a 25 percent discount to the Paladin Hospitality Zone. This offer is not available via box office purchases.
Gates Open: 11:30 AM
Game Sponsor: Papa Johns
8:00 AM -- Women's Basketball Practice (Timmons Arena)
10:00 AM -- Women's Lacrosse Scrimmage vs. Limestone (North Village)
10:00 AM -- Men's Basketball Practice (Timmons Arena)
10:30 AM -- Army ROTC Helicopter Landing (Rugby Field)
10:30 AM -- Nate C. The Chief "The Official DJ of the Furman Paladins" Performs
11:30 AM -- Paladin Club Zone Opens (Paladin Stadium)
11:45 AM -- Paladin Regiment March/Concert (Timmons Arena to PAC Circle)
12:04 PM -- Champions Walk (Paladin Stadium)
+ Military Appreciation Day
+ 500 Diamond F Camo Hats
+ Paladin Club Zone, located in the area between the home stands and field house, opens 90 minutes prior to kickoff and will include food sponsored by Shortfields and a purple koozie giveaway sponsored by Shortfields, Thomas Creek Brewery, Total Wine & More, and Laura Lynn
+ The "Champions Walk" is scheduled to begin approximately 60 minutes prior to kickoff
+ Bojangles BoBerry Biscuit Coupons
+ Tucanos outside stadium with Brazilian Lemonade samples
Family Dental Health Smile Cam, Available Technology Fan Photo of the Game, Palmetto Pride Fanatic Fan of the Game, Mast General Store T-Shirt Toss, Papa John's If We Win You Win Online promotion, Ingles Kicking Hunger Promotion, Ingles Show Us Your Card, Greenville Heritage FCU Take Away Giveback Promotion, TapSnap Tailgater of the Game, Children's Museum of the Upstate Tiny Tailgater of the Game, Chic-Fil-A Cow Toss, ROTC T-Shirt Toss
Furman University Paladin Regiment, ROTC Ceremony, Hall of Fame Inductee Recognition
Quarter 1 Break -- Men's Basketball Southern Conference Championship Recognition
Quarter 3 Break -- ROTC Videos
Hunter Reid, Furman Sports Information