GREENVILLE, S.C. (Furman SID) — Quarterback Alenjandro Bennifield passed for one score and ran for another to lead FCS fourth-ranked Chattanooga to a 21-14 win over Furman in Southern Conference football action Saturday evening at Paladin Stadium.
The Mocs (3-0, 1-0 SoCon) used a pair of third quarter scores, including a 1-yard run plunge by Bennifield, to build a 21-0 advantage over the Paladins (0-3, 0-2 SoCon) and then held off a late Furman surge to claim their fifth consecutive win in the series.
A Bennifield 33-yard touchdown strike to C.J. Board late in the second quarter accounted for the only points in a first half defensive struggle.
UTC doubled its lead with a seven-play, 77-yard drive on its first possession of the third quarter that netted a 2-yard touchdown run by Derrick Craine.
Bennifield’s touchdown run on the Mocs’ next possession stretched the lead to 21-0.
Furman rallied for a pair of fourth quarter scores behind senior quarterback Reese Hannon, who entered the game on the second play of third quarter following a back injury to starting signal caller P.J. Blazejowski. The Greer native completed 14-of-20 passes for 174 yards and, in the process, climbed to third on Furman’s career passing yards ledger with 5,448 yards, surpassing Braniff Bonaventure (1992-96, 5,379 yds.).
A Colin Brewer 39-yard punt pinned Furman at its own six-yard line with 5:43, but the Paladins answered by covering 94 yards in 11 plays, aided by a 37-yard connection from Hannon to Gordon to the UTC 46. Kealand Dirks‘ 1-yard touchdown plunge with a minute left in the game helped pull the Paladins to within 21-14, but Furman failed to recover the onside kick.
Furman, which accounted for 151 of its 281 yards in the fourth quarter, rushed for 85 yards and passed for 196, with Gordon topping all receivers with five catches for 66 yards.
Chattanooga finished with 188 yards, rushing for 142 and getting 146 yards passing from Bennifield, who completed 11-of-14 passes.
Craine paced all rushers with 18 carrries for 79 yards.
Nakevion Leslie was credited with 15 tackles and a sack for the Mocs, who finished with three sacks and five pass breakups.
Carl Rider topped Furman with 15 tackles.
Furman’s challenging September schedule, which has pitted the Paladins against FBS 12th-ranked Michigan State, FCS 15th-ranked The Citadel, and 4th-ranked Chattanooga over the last three weeks, continues next Saturday at FBS transistion Coastal Carolina in Conway. Kickoff is set for 6:00 p.m.