No. 3 Georgia Southern vs. Furman: Archrivals to Renew Great SoCon Rivalry

John Hooper@soconjohn22Correspondent IIOctober 20, 2012

Furman Has Not Beaten Georgia Southern In Greenville Since 2006
Furman Has Not Beaten Georgia Southern In Greenville Since 2006

GREENVILLE, S.C.—The Furman Paladins and Georgia Southern Eagles are two old rivals and two programs headed in vastly different directions. It could be argued that Georgia Southern's ascension to the top of the league could be found in the Eagles' stretch run during the 2010 season.

One of the games included in that stretch run was a late November trip to Greenville, S.C., to close out the 2010 season, entering an emotionally-charged Paladin Stadium, with the game marking the final one on the sidelines for Paladin head coach Bobby Lamb.

As expected, Furman came out throwing the punches, looking to put the finishing touches of a 13th straight winning season in Greenville while racing out to an early 14-0 lead. They held a 28-17 lead heading to the fourth quarter before the six-time national champion Eagles, who needed a win to qualify for the postseason, forced a couple of Paladin turnovers in the fourth quarter, which led to 15 GSU points, ultimately enabling GSU to finish off Furman and head back to Statesboro with a 32-28 win and its first postseason bid since 2006.

The Eagles had entered that regular season finale two years ago coming off two straight victories, including one of those coming against No. 1 Appalachian, 21-14, in Statesboro, which was part of a season-ending streak that would see the Eagles reel off six straight wins before being defeated, 27-10, in the FCS semifinals at Delaware.

Georgia Southern head coach Jeff Monken started his career a bit inauspiciously, as the Eagles began that 2010 season with just a 4-4 start. However, since it's final regular-season loss to Samford in Week 8 two years ago, Georgia Southern has nearly been unbeatable, posting a 22-5 record in two-plus seasons, including a 15-2 mark against SoCon foes, which includes an FCS playoff win over Wofford in 2010.

The only two losses over that stretch against SoCon foes came at Appalachian State (24-17) and at The Citadel (23-21) to open Southern Conference play this season.

The Eagles come into Saturday's game red-hot, as they have won four straight, including a 17-9 win over No. 4 Wofford on Saturday night in Statesboro, claiming their 13th-straight home triumph.

Meanwhile, Furman has seen its struggles this season under second-year head coach Bruce Fowler, which includes a 31-10 loss to Chattanooga at Paladin Stadium this past Saturday to mark Furman's second straight loss.

The 21-point loss to the Mocs was the second-largest margin of defeat for the Paladins against FCS competition under Fowler's leadership, with Georgia Southern's 50-20 win in Statesboro marking the largest margin of defeat against FCS foes.

Like Lamb's Paladins in 2010, Fowler's 2012 edition will receive a character test on Saturday afternoon when the third-ranked Eagles come to Paladin Stadium for a 1:30 p.m. ET contest.

With the playoffs now squarely in the rearview mirror at a much earlier point in the season than in Fowler's first season at the helm in Greenville, pride and a winning season now become the goals of the 2012 Paladins.

Looking beyond the postseason goals, however, remains the several other things for Furman to protect on Saturday when the Eagles land at the foot of Paris Mountain. Furman will look to protect its unbeaten mark (2-0) against top-five ranked FCS foes at Paladin Stadium, as the Paladins knocked off both No. 3 Appalachian State (20-10) and No. 5 Wofford (26-21) last season. 


Who: No. 3 Georgia Southern (5-1, 4-1 SoCon) at Furman (2-5, 1-3 SoCon)

When: Oct. 20, 1:30 p.m. ET

Where: Greenville, S.C., Paladin Stadium (16,000)


The Rivalry

The rivalry between Furman and Georgia Southern has its roots tied firmly to seminal moments in both programs' respective histories, as Georgia Southern claimed its first national title with a dramatic 44-42 come-from-behind win over the Paladins to claim the school's first of six national crowns, while Furman claimed its lone national title with a 17-12 win over the Eagles in 1988.

The two teams will be squaring off on the gridiron for the 25th time on Saturday, with the Eagles having doubled up the Paladins in the all-time series, 16-8.

Great quarterbacks like Tracy Ham, Bobby Lamb, Jayson Foster, Frankie DeBusk, Raymond and Ingle Martin all have their place in this rivalry at one time or another. Few on both sides will forget the 2004 and 2005 meetings as being two of the more recent classics between the two schools that share many of the same recruiting areas and many of the same connections to the glory years for both programs. Georgia Southern is well on its way to revisiting some of the past triumphs.

Running backs like Georgia Southern's Adrian Peterson and Louis Ivory also made this matchup every bit worth the price of admission during the late 1990s and early 2000s, as both are two of the greatest to ever tote the pigskin in the league's storied history.

Furman didn't win in Statesboro until the 2001 Division I-AA semifinals, as the Paladins claimed a 24-17 win over the Eagles to end two of the more impressive streaks in FCS history—a 39-game unbeaten streak at home dating back to 1997, and handing the Eagles their first home playoff loss in school history, dropping the Eagles' home playoff mark to 27-1 in the friendly confines.

It could be argued that no two programs in the FCS ranks have as much tied to each other in their respective traditions as these two.

It's fair to say Furman and Georgia Southern don't like each other each season when they meet on the gridiron. However, the two programs respect each other a great deal. That's mostly due to the tradition each has established over the years.

Head coaches Jeff Monken and Bruce Fowler are tied to the storied tradition of this rivalry. After all, Fowler was an assistant coach on the staff that defeated Georgia Southern in the 1988 National Championship Game, while Monken was very much a part of this rivalry in the early 2000s under former GSU head coach Paul Johnson.

Coming off of last season's 50-20 loss in Statesboro—the largest margin to separate the two teams in any one game in any of the 23 meetings—it will be interesting to see the mindset of Fowler's team on Saturday. The Paladins are fresh off their worst loss to an FCS opponent under the second-year head coach and the 31-10 set back to the Mocs ultimately ended Furman's chance at the 2012 postseason, which will now mark a sixth straight season the Paladins will be home for Thanksgiving.

Furman's 2-5 record is the worst record Furman has ever brought into a game against the Eagles, which is even worse than the 1994 meeting, which saw the Paladins enter the matchup with a 3-5 mark on the campaign before finishing with a 3-8 overall record.

Furman needs to win its final four games to avoid a losing season, and if the Paladins are able to accomplish such a feat, it would mark the first time the Paladins have ever been able post a winning season in the nine times the program has started a season 0-3.

Only once (1979) have the Paladins managed to win more than three games in a season after getting out to an 0-3 start, as Furman posted a 5-6 mark to finish the season. Only twice in those nine 0-3 starts has Furman been able to claim three wins in a season, with a 3-7 mark in 1959 and a 3-6 finish in 1942.



When Furman faces third-ranked Georgia Southern (The Sports Network FCS Top 25 College Football Poll) on Saturday afternoon at Paladin Stadium, it will be facing a team looking for its third straight triumph at Furman, which has only been accomplished in regular-season meetings once in the history of the program, and twice all time.

Chatanooga was able to claim three straight victories in Greenville in 1978, '79 and '81, while Western Carolina claimed consecutive wins over the Paladins in Greenville in 1983, '84 and '86. The Catamounts are the only school in Paladin Stadium history to ever claim three straight wins at Furman.

The Georgia Southern offense started out the 2012 campaign struggling a bit with the turnover bug early, but the Eagle "O" appears to be hitting its stride at just the right time coming into Saturday afternoon's clash. The Eagles enter Saturday's contest ranking 16th in the nation in total offense (442.8 YPG), 20th in scoring offense (33.6 PPG), second in rushing offense (408.3 YPG) and last nationally (121st) in passing offense (34.5 YPG).

The Eagles, of course, operate out of the triple-option/spread-option offense.

One different element to the GSU offense this season has been the lack of a passing attack, as the Paladins saw Jaybo Shaw have one of his better passing performances against Furman in last season's 50-20 contest. Shaw connected on six of nine passes for 171 yards on a day when the Eagles torched the Furman defense for 532 yards of total offense.

Leading the attack for the Eagles this season has been a pair of talented quarterbacks, in Jerick McKinnon (3-for-7 passing, 84 yards, 2 TDs, 1 INT/75 rush att, 528 yds, 4 TDs, 7.0 YPC) and Ezayi Youyoute (9-for-21 passing, 123 yds, 1 TD/54 rush att, 391 yds, 4 TDs, 7.2 YPC). McKinnon and Youyoute are second and third on the team in rushing for the Eagles, respectively, and as of late it has been McKinnon leading the GSU offense in the starting role. Both are averaging over seven yards per rush attempt, which is astounding even in an option offense.

In last Saturday's win over Wofford, McKinnon got the start and rushed for 84 yards on 16 attempts. As a team, Georgia Southern did not attempt a pass last Saturday and neither quarterback has passed for over 100 yards in any one game this season.

In fact, GSU's best passing performance this fall came in the 26-23 win over Elon, which began the current four-game winning streak for the Eagles, as GSU passed for 66 yards and one of their three TDs through the air in the win.

Leading a strong Georgia Southern backfield this season has been fullback Dominique Swope (116 rush att, 662 yds, 10 TDs, 5.7 YPC), who was the 2011 Southern Conference Freshman of the Year and appears to be well on his way to garnering All-SoCon accolades for a second straight season for the Eagles.

Swope enters Saturday's SoCon clash with the Paladins as the reigning Southern Conference Offensive Player of the Week for his performance in the 17-9 win over Wofford last Saturday. The sophomore sensation finished that contest by rushing for a tough 137 yards and a pair of scores on 25 attempts.

Swope is well on his way to a second straight 1,000-yard rushing season for the Eagles, and he comes into Saturday's contest with the Paladins having already rushed for 1,685 yards in his 1.5 seasons in an Eagle uniform. Swope comes into Saturday's contest with two 100-yard rushing performances to date this season.

Swope will be surrounded by some solid weapons in the back at each of the respective slotback positions on Saturday. Both Jonathan Bryant (21 rush att, 178 yds, 8.2, 1 TD/2 rec, 33 yds, 16.5 YPR) and Darreion Robinson (28 rush att, 183 yds, 1 TD, 6.5 YPC). Bryant and Robinson are quick on the perimeter and each of their respective speed can be a threat to the Paladins on Saturday.

It was Bryant who had one of the best afternoons of his career in last season's 50-20 win over the Paladins. Bryant led the Eagles' rushing efforts against the Paladins last season, finishing the contest with 10 carries for 95 yards and a TD to lead GSU offensively in the win.

While the Eagles haven't thrown the ball much this season, they do have effective weapons in the passing game, with the top receiving option in the passing attack being Kentrellis Showers (6 rec, 89 yds, 2 TDs, 14.8 YPR), who has tremendous speed and the speed to get behind defenses and threaten the big play. There are more possession-type receivers in the Eagles' arsenal entering Saturday afternoon's contest, while veterans Tyler Sumner (1 rec, 33 yds) and Mitch Williford act as reliable options in the passing game, as well as excellent perimeter blockers.

Maybe the greatest reason the Eagles have experienced such success over the past 2.5 seasons under the direction of Monken has been the play of the offensive line, and after having gotten off to a bit of a shaky start this season, the unit has gained experience and once again looks like one of the league's top units.

The Georgia Southern offensive front is being led by All-SoCon left tackle Dorian Byrd and center Manrey Saint-Amour, who was a SoCon All-Freshman selection last season. The Eagles have some young starters across their offensive front, too, such as guards Trevor McBurnett (LG) and Logan Daves (RG), and right tackle Garrett Frye is one of the more athletic players along the GSU front line. The Eagles enter Saturday's matchup averaging 6.8 yards per play and 6.8 yards per rush.

Furman comes into Saturday's contest against the Eagles with an offense that has sputtered a bit the past couple of weeks in losses to Chattanooga (31-10) and Wofford (20-17), and that certainly has much to do with having faced two of the league's best offenses during that time frame. It doesn't get easier, as the Paladins face the nation's second-ranked defense.

On Saturday, Furman enters the contest with the nation's 24th-ranked offense (394.9 YPG), while ranking 64th in scoring offense (25.1 PPG), 42nd in rushing offense (174.9 YPG) and 47th in passing offense (220.0 YPG). The Paladins have certainly been made to look more human on the offensive side of the football the past couple of weeks.

The Paladins will operate out of a traditional, pro-style offense, with some I-formation and two-back sets mixed in to their offensive repertoire.

Set to lead the Furman offense on Saturday will be one of the nation's most talented freshmen quarterbacks, in Greer, S.C. native Reese Hannon (105-of-164 passing, 1,291 yds, 6 TDs, 4 INTs). The cousin of former Furman signal-caller Justin Hill has struggled the last couple of weeks and has had to deal with a lot more pressure the past few weeks, especially having faced two of the better defensive fronts.

Hannon entered the starting lineup for the Paladins after Dakota Derrick went down with a shoulder injury just before halftime in the 47-45 overtime loss to Coastal Carolina in Week 2. Since then, Hannon has not looked back and had his string of four straight 200-yard passing performances come to an end a couple of weeks ago in the 20-17 loss at Wofford.

Hannon has one of the best running backs in the SoCon to hand the ball to, with Jerodis Williams (129 rush att, 815 yds, 7 TDs, 6.3 YPC/10 rec, 80 yds, 8.0 YPR) on pace to register his second straight 1,000-yard rushing season. Williams is a powerful runner, with good vision and breakaway speed once he reaches the second level of the defense.

The Paladins, who have made a name running the football in two seasons under the direction of Bruce Fowler, struggled to rush the ball in last Saturday's 31-10 loss to Chattanooga. In fact, the 19 rush attempts was the lowest number of rush attempts in Furman's history as an FCS/Division I-AA member (1982-present).

Entering Saturday afternoon's contest against the Eagles, Williams ranks sixth all time on Furman's all-time rushing ledger, having gained 2,743 yards. He needs 297 more rushing yards to move into Furman's top five all time on its career list. Williams has certainly seen some highs and lows this season for the Paladins.

His 239-yard rushing performance in a 45-24 win over Western Carolina three weeks ago ranks as the fourth-best individual rushing performance in school history, while his 39 rushing yard on 19 attempts last week against Chattanooga ranks as the seventh-lowest individual rushing total by a Paladin running back since 1982. Williams was held to 64 rushing yards on 13 attempts against the Eagles last season.

Williams will be backed up by talented and elusive Hank McCloud (66 rush att, 323 yds, 5 TDs, 4.9 YPC/6 rec, 48 yds, 8.0 YPR) in the Paladins' backfield, while Ernie Cain (11 rush att, 37 yds, 1 TD, 3.4 YPR/3 rec, 17 yds, 5.7 YPR) has been an effective option on short-yardage plays this season for the Paladins at fullback.

Furman also has some solid receiving options, with the most notable being All-America tight end Colin Anderson (21 rec, 356 yds, 17.0 YPR). Anderson enters Saturday's contest as one of the top receiving tight ends in school history.

The senior from Dallas, TX, enters Saturday's contest ranking tops in school history among tight ends in TD receptions (11), while ranking second in career receiving yards (1,399 yds) and third in career receptions (81). With two catches against the Eagles on Saturday, Anderson would move into second place in all-time career receptions among tight ends.

In the 50-20 loss to Georgia Southern last season, Anderson was effective as he hauled in three passes for 111 yards, including a 44-yard TD catch in the fourth quarter for Furman's final score of the day.

Anderson will have some solid company in the receiving corps for the Paladins, with Will King (34 rec, 541 yds, 3 TDs, 15.9 YPR) and Ryan Culbreath (20 rec, 241 yds, 2 TDs, 12.1 YPR) set to start at the flanker and split end positions, respectively.

Both Culbreath and King are exceptional pass-catchers and both have excellent hands. One of the more talented freshmen wideouts is Jordan Snellings (10 rec, 126 yds, 2 TDs, 12.6 YPR), and he could also factor into Furman's offensive plans on Saturday afternoon. Culbreath posted a solid outing against the Eagles last season, as he hauled in three passes for 69 yards in the 50-20 setback.

Furman's offensive line has been solid in run blocking, and the Paladins are led up front by preseason All-SoCon left tackle Dakota Dozier.

Eric Thoni, a former walk-on, is in his first season as a full-time starter at center, and he is joined in the starting lineup by another former walk-on, first-year starter in Joe Turner (LG). Rounding out the starters along the Furman starting front line are veterans Charles Emert (RG), a Statesboro, GA native, and Ryan Storms (RT).

The Furman offensive front has struggled pass-blocking the past couple of weeks against Wofford and Chattanooga, and things get no easier on Saturday, as the Paladins face the GSU defensive front, which is one of the best units in the FCS. Coming into Saturday afternoon's contest, the Paladins have surrendered 11 sacks on the campaign and come in averaging 5.9 yards per play, including 4.8 yards per rush.

When Furman's offense takes its home turf on Saturday afternoon, it will be greeted by one of the nation's truly outstanding defensive units. The Eagles come into the contest ranking second nationally in total defense (266.5 YPG), seventh in scoring defense (14.0 PPG), 10th in rushing defense (119.8 YPG) and fourth in passing defense (146.6 YPG). The Eagles also rank 10th nationally in sacks per game, averaging 3.0 per contest.

The Georgia Southern defense which will enter Paladin Stadium on Saturday afternoon will very much resemble the unit that helped the Eagles dominate the fourth quarter a couple of years ago in Greenville en route to a 32-28 come-from-behind win. The Eagles defense is on pace to finish as one of the best in school history.

Leading the staunch unit on Saturday will be the GSU defensive line, which is once again anchored by Buck Buchanan Award candidate Brent Russell (27 tackles, 6.0 TFL, 3.0 sacks, 1 blkd kick) at the nose tackle position. It was Russell that changed the complexion of last season's game against Furman, with a blocked PAT after a Furman TD, which allowed the Eagles to turn the momentum in what was to that point a tight football game, as former Eagle cornerback Laron Scott returned the ball for two points on the dead-ball play.

Russell is flat out a beast, and referred to as the "man bear" by his teammates. His three sacks this season have allowed Russell to move into second place on the school's all-time sacks list, with 23.5 career quarterback takedowns. With a sack against the Paladins on Saturday, Russell would surpass former Eagle defensive end Edward Thomas' 24.0 career sacks for the school's all-time career sacks mark.

That would be an astounding record for a nose tackle to hold. No doubt Furman will have to scheme around Russell, who is sometimes unable to even be contained by two blockers and is one of the primary reasons it's so tough to run the football at the point of attack against the Eagles.  

Additionally, against the Paladins last season, Russell was able to record two tackles and a sack against the Paladins to go along with his blocked PAT.

Joining Russell at defensive tackle on Saturday afternoon will be Blake Riley (22 tackles, 1.5 TFL, 0.5 sack). Riley is a player that has also been solid on the defensive interior for the Eagles this season. Riley has been another stalwart in the teeth of that Georgia Southern defense this season, and he helps form one of the top defensive tackle tandems in the Southern Conference.

Georgia Southern also fields one of the top tandems of defensive ends in the Southern Conference and the FCS, with Dion DuBose (23 tackles, 2.5 TFL, 1.5 sacks) and Josh Gebhardt (14 tackles, 5.0 TFL, 2.0 sacks) slated to start for the Eagles on Saturday, but expect Javon Mention (13 tackles, 5.0 sacks, 1 FR) to also log his fair share of action at defensive end on Saturday for the Eagles.

Mention comes into Saturday's game with the Paladins ranking third in the league in sacks per game, averaging 0.83 sacks per contest.

Set to man the respective linebacker positions for the Eagles on Saturday will be John Stevenson (50 tackles, 1.0 TFL, 0.5 sack, 3 PBUs, 1 FF) on the weak side of the GSU defense, and he's one of the fastest players on head coach Jeff Monken's roster, having been clocked at a blazing 4.38 in the 40-yard dash.

Teaming with Stevenson in GSU's 4-2-5 defensive alignment on Saturday will be Kyle Oehlbeck (22 tackles, 2.0 TFL), who will provide veteran leadership in the middle of the GSU defense, as he will start at the middle linebacker position for the Eagles on Saturday.

The GSU secondary, which was thought to be a weakness going into the season, has shown to be one of the stronger aspects of the defense this season despite the graduation of All-SoCon CB Laron Scott.

Anchoring the GSU secondary this season has veteran safeties Darius Eubanks (37 tackles, 1 INT, 3 PBUs, 1FR) and J.J. Wilcox (42 tackles, 1 INT, 1 PBU). Eubanks will start at the free safety position, while Wilcox moved over from the offensive side of the football to the defensive side of the ball and has been an outstanding addition to the GSU secondary this season with his athleticism.

A third safety in the secondary will be manned by either the "Nickel" safety Deion Stanley (23 tackles, 0.5 TFL, 4 PBUs), who was a SoCon All-Freshman selection last season, or "Buck" safety Antwione Williams (12 tackles, 1 PBU).

The starting cornerbacks will be LaVelle Westbrooks (11 tackles, 2 INTs, 1 TD, 4 PBUs) and Valdon Cooper (11 tackles, 1.0 TFL, 2 INTs, 1 TD), who made one of the plays of the game in the win over Wofford last week, knocking a deep ball out of the grasp of Wofford wideout Jeff Ashley, helping the Eagles protect their lead late in the game.

Furman came into the 2012 season with its strength expected to be on the defensive side of the football, as the Paladins welcomed the return of seven starters on that side of the ball. However, so far this season, the losses of players like All-American cornerback Ryan Steed and All-SoCon linebacker Kadarron Anderson have proved to be tough to overcome.

Furman was also an opportunistic defense last season, and a unit that tied for the league lead in turnover margin, causing 22 opponent turnovers (13 INTs, 9 FRs). So far this season, the Paladins have caused just eight (5 INTs, 3 FRs).

Coming into Saturday's contest, the Paladins rank 76th in total defense (390.6 YPG), 75th in scoring defense (29.7 PPG), 58th in rushing defense (154.0 YPG) and 88th in passing defense (236.6 YPG).

The Furman defensive line is one of the strengths of a unit that has struggled more than was predicted this season, and it's a veteran, physical unit led by a talented defensive end tandem of Josh Lynn (25 tackles, 3.0 TFL, 1.0 sack, 2 QBHs, 1 FF) and Shawn Boone (18 tackles, 4.0 TFL, 2.5 sacks, 1 FF, 1 FR).

Boone and Lynn are two of the more athletic defensive ends in the SoCon and their role will be key when GSU attacks the Paladin perimeter on Saturday.

A veteran duo will start at the respective defensive tackle positions for the Paladins on Saturday, as defensive tackles Colton Keig (27 tackles, 2.0 TFL) and Neal Rodgers (23 tackles, 1.0 TFL, 0.5 sack) have combined 43 games in their respective careers for the Paladins. Both have been solid inside against the run this season.

The top player on the Furman defense is preseason second-team All-SoCon strong-side linebacker Mitch McGrath (51 tackles, 6.0 TFL, 1.0 sack, 2 INTs, 1 FF, 3 PBUs), who is having a strong senior season for the Paladins. He teams with classmate Matt Solomon (58 tackles, 3.5 TFL, 1.0 sack, 3 PBUs), who will start at middle linebacker for the Paladins on Saturday, and he is one of a several big hitters on this Furman defense.

Rounding out the starters for the Paladins at linebacker heading into Saturday afternoon's clash with the Eagles is weak-side linebacker Gary Wilkins (62 tackles, 2.0 TFL, 1 PBU), who has fashioned quite a young career already in the Paladin Purple and White. His 62 tackles lead the team and rank him fifth in the league in tackles, averaging 8.9 tackles per game. Like GSU's Stevenson, he's one of the most athletic players on the Paladin roster.

The Paladin secondary has been the unit that has struggled the most so far this season, but the unit is anchored by a pair of veteran, All-SoCon safeties, in free safety Nathan Wade (54 tackles, 2.0 TFL, 1 INT, 2 PBUs) and strong safety Greg Worthy (47 tackles, 1.0 TF). Both Wade and Worthy are big hitters on the Paladin defense, and both will have to make plays and make key gap reads if Furman is to have a shot at pulling an upset on Saturday.

The problems have stemmed from yielding the big play at cornerback this season, as evidenced by Wofford wideout Jeff Ashley getting behind the Furman secondary for what proved to be the game-winning, 52-yard score in the third quarter of a 20-17 setback for the Paladins.

The Paladins have utilized an assortment of cornerback combos this season, but the one head coach Bruce Fowler has decided to employ on Saturday against the Eagles is talented, physical freshman Reggie Thomas (17 tackles, 2.0 TFL, 1.0 sack, 1 INT, 1 PBU) and junior Austin Williams (4 tackles).


Final Prediction

Rivalry games are always fun, and this is one of the best when it comes to FCS football, with its roots in playing for the top prize at the sub-classification. Georgia Southern has righted its ship quickly and it was just three years ago that we were all wondering what happened to such a tradition-rich program.

The answer has been swiftly answered by Jeff Monken, and with the Eagles' win over Wofford last Saturday, they now control their own destiny.

For Bruce Fowler's Paladins, their season was always going to be a struggle, even with the return of 15 starters, but many would agree that this team isn't as bad as its 2-5 overall record would indicate. While Fowler's efforts to turnaround the Furman program haven't gone as swiftly as Monken's, make no mistake that Furman is well on its way back to prominence in the FCS and SoCon football scenes, respectively.

Saturday's game against the Eagles will prove the strides Fowler's Paladins have made, but it will result in another heartbreaking defeat as Georgia Southern picks up a hard-fought, come-from-behind, 10-point win on Saturday at Paladin Stadium.

Final Score: Georgia Southern 27, Furman 17


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