Wofford Ends Furman’s Season in Second Round of FCS Playoffs
For Furman, the season ended where it started in Spartanburg with a loss to Wofford, as the Terriers move on to the quarterfinal round of the FCS playoffs for the second straight season with a 28–10 win over Saturday afternoon at Gibbs Stadium.
Wofford improves to 10–2 overall and will move on to face North Dakota State in the FCS quarterfinals next Saturday, while Furman ends its first season under head coach Clay Hendrix at 8–5.
Wofford, which defeated Furman 24–23 to open the 2017 season, exploded for 21 unanswered points and never looked back en route to the 18-point win, which marked the Terriers’ fourth-straight victory over the Paladins.
After taking a 7–0 lead following an impressive opening drive of the game, which covered 75 yards in 10 plays, culminating in a Blake Morgan 5-yard scoring run.
From there, Furman would score 10 unanswered points to take the lead. First, with a Grayson Atkins 42-yard field goal to make it a 7–3 game, and then on a 20-yard scoring strike from senior quarterback P.J. Blazejowski to senior wideout Logan McCarter to give the Paladins a 10–7 lead with 6:52 remaining in the half.
That’s when the Terriers began their furious rally. Wofford responded with a five-play, 64-yard drive to take the lead for good, with Morgan hauling in a 33-yard scoring catch with just 45 seconds remaining in the half to give the Terriers a 14–10.
Wofford would extend that lead late in the third period after the Paladin offense failed to find any consistency on the offensive side of the ball. The Terriers mounted a 12-play, 79-yard drive to take a 21–10 lead on a Chase Nelson 2-yard scoring plunge with 2:52 remaining in the third quarter.
The Paladin offense had trouble all afternoon on the offensive side of the football, but especially in the second half, gaining just 107 yards of total yards over the final two quarters. Seventy-three of those yards came on Furman’s final drive of the game, which ended on downs at the Wofford 2-yard line.
The Paladins could only muster 52 yards rushing in the contest against the Terrier defense, which accounts for a season low.
The Terriers would put the game away on a fake field goal with a little less than six minutes remaining in the game, as holder Miller Mosley rushed the ball in from two yards out to make it a 28–10 contest with 5:59 remaining in the game.
The Paladins drove the ball 73 yards on its final drive of the game, reaching the Terrier 2-yard line. However, Furman was stymied on four-straight run plays to turn the ball over on downs and that would seal the win for Wofford.
Wofford completed the contest out-gaining the Paladins 379–309, including out-gaining the Paladins 291–52 on the ground. The Paladins held a 257–88 advantage in pass yards.
Blazejowski finished the game connecting on 18-of-30 passes for 257 yards and a score in his final game for the Paladins. For his career, the senior from St. Augustine finished passed for 4,942 yards and 33 touchdown, which places him sixth in both categories for his career.
He also finished out his stellar four years in the purple and white with 5,801 yards total, which ranks fourth in Furman history, just ahead of former Paladin great Frankie DeBusk (1987–90).
His top target in the Furman passing game Saturday was senior tight end Andy Schumpert, who hauled in five passes for 80 yards. Sophomore wideout Thomas Gordon hauled in five passes for 66 yards in the loss.
McCarter finished with three catches for 35 yards and a TD. McCarter finished out his career ranking in the top 20 in Furman history in receiving, in both receptions (92 catches) and 1,420 yds (19th). Additionally, McCarter posted eight receiving TDs in his Paladin career.
It also marked the final game Schumpert, who finished out a stellar, record-breaking final season for the Paladins, and he posted 60 catches for 1,042 yards and 10 TDs during his four seasons for the Paladins. In his final season alone, Schumpert turned in one of the best individual seasons for a Paladin tight end in school history, hauling in 32 passes for 652 yards and nine TDs. Schumpert was a first-team All-SoCon selection in 2017.
Senior running back Antonio Wilcox also played his final game for the Paladins Saturday. In his final game, the Fitzgerald, GA native finished with 12 rushes for 24 yards. For his career, Wilcox finished out his Furman career with 385 rushes for 1,777 yards and 21 TDs. Wilcox finished his final season — by far his most successful — garnering All-SoCon honors and rushing for 814 yards and 14 TDs on 162 carries, averaging 5.0 yards-per-carry.
Rounding out the Paladins to have played their final games for the Paladins on Saturday were both center Matthew Schmidt and offensive guard Terrell Bush.
Schmidt was the SoCon’s Jacobs Blocking Award winner, becoming the 15th winner of the prestigious award given to the top offensive lineman in the SoCon in school history. Schmidt also became the first Paladin to claim the SoCon’s highest honor bestowed upon an offensive lineman since Dakota Dozier claimed the same award in 2013.
All told, Schmidt started 39 out of the 40 games he played in his career. Bush finished out his career started 31 of 45 games in his career, including all 13 games for the Paladins as a senior in 2017.
On the defensive side of the ball, Furman is set to return all 11 starters for the 2018 season. In Saturday’s loss to the Terriers, Furman was led defensively by freshman linebacker Reynard Ellis’ 13 tackles, while fellow freshman linebacker Elijah McKoy chipped in with 11 tackles and a tackle-for-loss.
Wofford was led in the win over the Paladins by Lennox McAfee, who finished the contest by just missing the century mark in rushing, posting 98 yards on nine carries, while Andre Stoddard posted a hard-fought 64 yards on 17 attempts.
Morgan proved to be Wofford’s most versatile offensive weapon on the afternoon, rushing for 39 yards and a TD on nine carries, while hauling in three passes for 43 yards and a score. Chase Nelson also added eight carries for 43 yards and a TD.
Wofford quarterback Brandon Goodson completed the contest connecting on 8-of-11 passes for 88 yards and a TD, while rushing for 34 yards on just four attempts.
Defensively, the Terriers were paced by Dominique Lemon’s eight tackles, field goal block, pass breakup and 1.5 tackles-for-loss, while Colton Clemons added eight tackles, a sack and a tackle-for-loss.