The Furman Paladins escaped with a 44-37 Southern Conference victory Saturday, March 6 at Paladin Stadium.
The teams entered overtime tied at 37. After a Paladin rushing touchdown, Furman’s Matt Sochovka forced Samford running back Jay Stanton to fumble at the two-yard line, with the defense recovering and securing the win.
With the loss, Samford falls to 1-2, all in SoCon play. With the victory, Furman improves to 2-1, also all in league play.
Samford quarterback Liam Welch completed 16-of-21 passes for 253 yards and a touchdown. Wide receiver Ty King brought in four passes for 115 yards and a touchdown. Wide receiver A.J. Toney had six receptions for 77 yards. Stanton led the Samford running game with 18 carries for 86 yards and a touchdown.
On the defensive side of the ball, Chris Edmonds had two interceptions, including one returned for a 45-yard touchdown, to go along with his seven tackles. Ty Herring was the team’s leading tackler with 16, including eight solo stops and one forced fumble.
Furman’s Hamp Sisson completed 11-of-27 passes for 277 yards, three touchdowns and two interceptions. Ryan DeLuca caught four passes for 114 yards and a touchdown. Ryan Miller had three catches for 96 yards and two touchdowns for the Paladins. Nick Kuzemka led Furman with nine tackles, including six solo stops.
Samford received the opening kickoff, but Furman’s Braden Gilby forced a Samford fumble, and the Paladins’ Austin Jones recovered the fumble at the Samford 20-yard line. Five plays later, Furman’s Sisson scored on a four-yard run to give the Paladins a 7-0 lead with 12:21 left in the first quarter.
Samford knotted the score at 7 when Edmonds intercepted a Furman pass and returned it 45 yards for a touchdown with 6:59 left in the first quarter.
A few plays later, junior kicker Mitchell Fineran slotted home a 50-yard field goal to give Samford a 10-7 lead with 4:42 left in the first quarter. After the Samford defense forced a three-and-out, Montrell Washington returned the Furman punt 55 yards for a touchdown to make the score 17-7 with 2:18 to go in the first quarter. On the final play of the first quarter Stanton scored on a one-yard run to push the Samford lead to 24-7 at the end of the first period.
Furman kicker Timmy Bleekrode kicked a 36-yard field goal to cut the Samford lead to 24-10 with 10:04 left in the second quarter. Sisson would follow this score up by hitting Miller on a 10-yard touchdown pass, making the score 24-17 with just 31 seconds left before halftime.
Fineran would put the first points on the board in the third quarter by kicking a 22-yard field goal to make the score 27-17. Bleekrode followed this up with a field goal of his own, cutting the Samford lead to seven points with 8:32 to go in the third quarter.
Immediately after Furman’s field goal, Welch hit King for an 85-yard touchdown pass to push the Bulldogs’ lead to 34-20 with 8:14 left in the third period. Bleekrode added another field goal to cut the lead to 34-23 with 3:01 to go in the third quarter.
Fineran blasted another precise kick, this one from 46 yards out, to increase Samford’s lead to 37-23 with 13:53 left in the fourth quarter.
Furman would respond with a 31-yard touchdown pass to cut the lead to 37-30 with 6:12 to go in the fourth quarter. Sisson would add another passing TD by hitting Miller in stride for a 73-yard conversion to tie the score at 37 with 2:59 left in regulation.
After the game went to overtime, Furman scored and forced a defensive fumble to win the contest.
Samford will return home to host the Wofford Terriers, next Saturday, March 13. The game is set for a 12 p.m. start from Seibert Stadium.