Saturday, September 23, 2017

Paladins rout Colgate for Hendrix's first win

Reynard Ellis (31) had 16 tackles in his first collegiate start Saturday
 in Furman's 45-14 win at Colgate. Photo courtesy of Furman.
A Furman team in need of a victory traveled to Colgate Saturday and found the winning formula. Touchdowns by five different Paladins plus sacks by five different Paladins equated to a 45-14 rout as Clay Hendrix earned his first win as a head coach.
Furman entered Saturday's game at 0-3, but just a couple of missed opportunities away from being 2-1. Against Colgate, the Paladins made those plays they'd been missing.
“It feels great to get that first victory,” Hendrix told afterwards. “I could not be prouder of our kids. They came in and played really well.
"Defensively I don’t know if we could have played much better against a productive, hard-to-defend offense. They just set the tone for the entire game, and offensively we did a good job of capitalizing on it in the first half.”
It was evident a defensive turnaround was in order from the start. After allowing a touchdown drive of at least 69 yards on the opening possession to each of its first three opponents, Furman's defense opened Saturday's game with a three-and-out.
In fact, by the time Colgate reached 69 yards of total offense it was 38-0 Furman late in the second quarter.
The teams traded punts to begin the game before the Raiders had a long pass into Furman territory. However, Aaquil Annoor forced a fumble on the play and Joe Farrar recovered. Two plays later, P.J. Blazejowski fired a 61-yard touchdown pass to a wide-open Cam Burnette.
That began a run of of six consecutive scoring drives for the Paladins (1-3).
After Ridge Gibson capped an 11-play, 76-yard drive with a six-yard touchdown, Chinedu Okonya forced a fumble on a sack that Chris Washington recovered. That set up a Blazejowski-to-Antonio Wilcox six-yard touchdown and Furman led 21-0 after one quarter.
There was no let up from the Paladins in the second quarter. After a 29-yard field goal by Grayson Atkins, it was a Washington sack and forced fumble that was recovered by Okonya. On the next play, Thomas Gordon scored on a 10-yard reverse.
Furman put together its longest drive on its next possession. The Paladins' 12-play, 77-yard drive lasted 5:27 and ended on Blazejowski's third touchdown pass. The seven-yard toss to Darius Morehead gave Furman a 38-0 lead with 3:26 left in the first half.
Blazejowski, who didn't play the fourth quarter, completed 13-of-20 passes for 251 yards with one interception.
"It's fun to get out here and play a complete game," Blazejowski told the Furman Sports Network in Saturday's postgame. "Our defense and special teams played really well, and we did some really good things on offense too.
"It's a good first win, but the preparation for next week starts now."
Colgate (1-3) got on the board with 15 seconds left in the first half after a controversial roughing the passer penalty on a fourth down incompletion extended the drive.
Wilcox finished the Paladins' scoring with a two-yard touchdown run midway through the third quarter.
Due to continuing injuries at the linebacker position, true freshmen Reynard Ellis and Elijah McKoy each made their first collegiate start Saturday and led Furman's defensive effort. Ellis had a game-high 16 tackles, including a sack, while McKoy posted seven tackles and two pass break-ups.
"I'm just glad I was able to help my team out. I've been working hard and coach has been teaching me a lot," Ellis said. "It feels good to come out here and show it to everybody."
Furman returns to Southern Conference action this rest of the season, beginning at home next Saturday against ETSU at 1 p.m.

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