The Bucs staged a thrilling rally from a 21-point third-quarter deficit to hand the Paladins what turned out to be a damaging defeat last year. That one will surely be on both teams’ minds when they meet again at 1 p.m. at Paladin Stadium.
Furman went on a tear afterward, winning six of its final seven games to gain a share of the SoCon championship, along with Wofford and ETSU. It wasn’t good enough to make the FCS playoffs, however and, looking back, the loss to the Bucs was what kept the Paladins out.
“They’re going to carry a chip on their shoulder,” ETSU cornerback Jeremy Lewis said. “We have to understand how close the game was and that they’re going to be willing to fight to the very last play. We need to be ready for a dogfight throughout the whole game.
“That game last year definitely gave us some more motivation for the rest of the season.”
Furman (2-2, 1-0) beat Mercer 45-10 last week in its SoCon opener. The Paladins’ losses were a 48-42 defeat by Georgia State and a 24-17 setback at Virginia Tech.
The Bucs (2-2, 0-1) are coming off a 20-14 nonconference victory over Austin Peay. The victory was preserved by a defense that held tough for the entire second half and sealed the outcome with interceptions on the Governors’ final two possessions.
ON THE MEND
Two key ETSU defensive players who missed last week’s game with injuries, tackle Jason Maduafokwa and safety Tyree Robinson, were listed as starters on the depth chart for Saturday.
Quarterback Darren Grainger has made Furman an offensive powerhouse this season. The redshirt freshman has thrown for six touchdowns and run for four. Last week, he passed for 190 yards and a touchdown and ran for 52 more with another score.
“He’s the guy that makes them go,” ETSU coach Randy Sanders said. “He makes accurate throws, makes good decisions with the ball and, obviously, he’s athletic and can run the football. He distributes the thing around like you want a quarterback to do and they’re good up front in the offensive line.
“They have good players and they are all playing with a lot of confidence. They’re not turning the ball over, not making a lot of mistakes and that’s a tough combination to defend.”
The Paladins ran Mercer into the ground last week by rushing for 411 yards, their highest total in 16 seasons. Junior Devin Wynn averages 7.4 yards per carry while gaining 379 yards.
Furman leads the conference in total offense at 469.5 yards per game and two of those games were against FBS opponents. Defensively, the Paladins lead the SoCon with 11 sacks.
Grayson Atkins, Furman’s All-America kicker, was the SoCon’s special teams player of the week after making his 14th consecutive field goal against Mercer last week. He also had a 69-yard punt, the second longest of his career.
While the game will be streamed on ESPN+, it will also appear on broadcast TV as part of the SoCon’s Ingles Game of the Week package. Locally, WJHL-TV will carry the game on a delayed basis beginning at midnight.
The station will also carry the Nov. 2 game between The Citadel at ETSU and the Nov. 9 ETSU at Western Carolina game. Both of those will air at midnight as well.