Furman Football Returns this Weekend

  • By cvbizz
  • January 19, 2021
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After covering the 2020 calendar without playing a game, Furman’s football program is set to return to action this Saturday when it opens its unique 2021 spring season at home against Western Carolina.  Kickoff for the Carolina Ford Dealers sponsored Southern Conference contest at Paladin Stadium is set for 2:00 p.m.

Saturday’s game, the program’s first February clash in 1,139 outings spanning 116 seasons, will halt a stretch of 448 days since Furman last took the field — the program’s longest hiatus since being mothballed from 1943-45 while America and its Allies were busy settling matters with Hitler, Mussolini, and Hirohito in World War II.  It will also represent the first early year football contest for the school since 1890, when Furman knocked off Wofford in Spartanburg, 12-0, on Jan. 24, and claimed a 28-2 verdict in Grenville on Mar. 21.

Head coach Clay Hendrix‘s squad’s start to the eight-game, SoCon-only regular season has generated its share of excitement as Furman enters the campaign as the favorite to win the league, according to a preseason poll of SoCon media.  The Paladins are also ranked 8th and 15th in national preseason polls announced by HERO Sports and Athlon, respectively.

Furman, which returns 13 starters, went 8-5 in 2019 and earned an at-large berth to the Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) playoffs.

Headlining this year’s team is an offense blessed with proven running backs and a veteran line.

Leading the way is senior All-SoCon tailback Devin Wynn, who rushed for 1,182 yards, averaged a stout 6.6 yards per carry, and scored 16 touchdowns in 2019.  The Greensboro, Ga., native heads into the 2021 campaign needing just 57 yards to join Furman’s 2,000-yard rushing club.

In front of Wynn at fullback is another Devin — redshirt sophomore running back Devin Abrams — who fashioned his own impressive 2019 season by rushing for 615 yards and six touchdowns en route to landing SoCon All-Freshman Team laurels.

Looking to clear the way for Furman’s talented backs is an offensive line headed up by senior guards Reed Kroeber and Jordan Harris, a preseason All-SoCon choice, and sophomore center Evan Jumper, another preseason all-league selection.

The Paladins averaged 265.7 yards per game rushing and ran for 39 touchdowns in 2019.

Furman’s passing game will focus on senior wide receiver Ryan DeLuca, owner of eight career touchdown receptions, as well a pair of experienced tight ends in junior Ryan Miller and senior Jake Walker, who have combined for seven career touchdown catches.

Expected to get the call at quarterback is redshirt sophomore Hamp Sisson.  Elected by his teammates as a team co-captain at the end of fall practice, the Birmingham, Ala., product and preseason All-SoCon choice who sports a 4.00 GPA, earned quality playing time a year ago, making a pair of late season starts and passing for 638 yards and three touchdowns.  

Defensively Furman’s most heralded player is redshirt junior All-American bandit Adrian Hope, who enters the season with 20.5 sacks, ranking him third all-time in program history.

The Paladins boast an experienced defensive front that features preseason All-SoCon redshirt sophomore nose guard Cameron Coleman, along with four veteran performers who combine to stock the tackle and end positions:  senior ends Landon Lawrence and Dru Seabrook, and redshirt junior Matt Sochovka and senior Parker Stokes at tackle.

Furman’s secondary sports several new faces who will fill out the lineup beside senior free safety DiMarcus Clay and redshirt sophomore Travis Blackshear, a preseason All-SoCon pick.

Unlike Furman, which opted out of fall competition due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Western Carolina went 0-3 in the fall versus challenging competition, which included Liberty (58-14 loss), Eastern Kentucky (49-17 loss), and North Carolina (49-9 loss).

The Paladins lead the all-time series with the Catamounts, 33-12-2, having won the last four and 12 of the last 14 meetings, including a 28-7 verdict in Cullowhee on Oct. 26, 2019.  Furman outlasted Western Carolina, 44-38, in 2018, the last time the two battled in Paladin Stadium, in what ranks as the highest combined scoring game in series history.

Saturday’s game will be aired over flagship ESPN Upstate and its four powerhouse stations: 97.7 FM/1330 AM in Greenville, and 97.1 FM/950 AM in Spartanburg.  Broadcasts can also be accessed via RADIO.COM, the fastest growing digital audio app in the U.S., as well as through FurmanPaladins.com and Tune-In.

In addition, all four Furman home contests are slated to be live streamed via ESPN+.

The Game: Furman Paladins (0-0, 0-0 SoCon) vs. Western Carolina (0-3, 0-0 SoCon)
Game Sponsor: Carolina Ford Dealers
Date: Saturday, February 20, 2021
Site: Greenville, S.C. (Paladin Stadium, on the campus of Furman University)
Kickoff: 2:05 PM ET
Video Stream: ESPN+ (Mark Childress (pbp), Bryant Lambert (analyst)
Radio: Van Wagner/Furman Sports Network (ESPN Upstate: 97.7 FM/1330 AM in Greenville; 97.1 FM/950 AM in Spartanburg); Radio.com; Tune-In; FurmanPaladins.com: Dan Scott (pbp), David Cobb (analyst); Marcus McMorris (sideline); Tom Van Hoy (spotter/pre-game & halftime host)
Tickets: Saturday’s game is a pre-ticketed event requiring a season ticket purchase.  There will be no walk up game day ticket sales. For more information, contact the Furman Ticket Office (864) 294-3099 or click here
Parking Lots Open: 1:00 PM
Tailgating: Prohibited
Paladin Stadium Entrance Requirements: Season Ticket Or Game Credential, Successful Temperature Scan
Other: Masking & 6′ Social Distancing Required At All Times

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