|Furman backup quarterback Carson Jones is likely to make his first|
career start Saturday against VMI. Photo courtesy of Furman
Championship teams can be challenged in many different ways over the course of a season. There will be a new one for Furman this Saturday at 1:30 p.m. when the Paladins host VMI in the regular season home finale. In addition to emotions of what will be a lengthy Senior Day pregame ceremony and any distractions from what has been an eventful week, Furman will return to the field for the first time since checking a major box off its goal list.
It's not only the fact that the second-ranked Paladins won at least a share of their 15th Southern Conference championship last week at Chattanooga. It's the emotionally draining way in which they did it. As backup quarterback Carson Jones threw a pair of fourth quarter touchdowns to rally Furman to a 17-14 victory, the Paladins left everything they had out on the field in one of the grittiest wins in recent memory.
The postgame celebration outside of the visitors locker room at Chattanooga was rousing as Paladins puffed victory cigars and posed for group pictures with the SoCon trophy. A win Saturday over the Keydets, who have never won at Paladin Stadium, would ensure no other SoCon football team gets to celebrate a conference title. It would mark Furman's first outright SoCon crown since 1990.
"We're a little selfish. We don't want to share anything with anybody," Furman coach Clay Hendrix said. "That's our thought right now."
Wins this week and next week at Wofford would ensure that Furman (8-1, 6-0 SoCon) did all it could down the stretch to maintain its lofty national ranking and position itself for a high seed in the FCS playoffs.
"We're going to get to play bonus (playoff) football," Hendrix said. "Certainly how we play these next couple of weeks changes the road that we'll be taking. So we've got lots of stuff to play for."