Furman Powers Past ETSU for 1st Win of the Season, 52-7

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JOHNSON CITY, TENN. (Furman SID) — Reese Hannon passed for 267 yards and four touchdowns and Furman scored on its first eight possessions en route to a 52-7 win of East Tennessee State in Southern Conference football action Saturday afternoon at Kermit Tipton Stadium.

The win halted a nine-game losing skid for Furman (1-6, 1-3 SoCon) and marked the Paladins’ biggest winning margin in league play since beating VMI, 65-7, in 2001.  The contest was the first meeting between Furman and East Tennessee State (2-4, 1-4 SoCon) since the Buccaneers revived football in 2015 after dropping the sport following the 2003 season.

“We got off to a good start, that was the biggest key,” said Furman head coach Bruce Fowler.  “That helped us build some confidence, and then we went out there are played pretty good defense — put some pressure on the quarterback and controlled things.  It’s was good to get the lead, and Reese was spot on with everything and had a great day.”

Hannon, Furman’s senior co-captain who connected on his first 13 pass attempts, found the mark on 16-of-18 passes and threw touchdown strikes covering 28, 9, 56, and 21 yards in helping the Paladins race to an 28-0 early second quarter lead.  His 28 and 56-yard scoring tosses went to Andrej Suttles, who had four catches for 128 yards — all in the first half.

Richard Hayes III capped the Paladins’ 35-point first half, the Paladins’ highest tally since scoring 48 in a 62-21 winnio  over Presbyterian in 2011, with a 2-yard scoring run to give Furman a 35-0 lead at intermission.

After stopping ETSU on the opening drive of the second half, Furman covered 53 yards in seven plays to extend its lead to 42-0 on an Antonio Wilcox 10-yard touchdown burst.

The Paladins stretched the advantage to 52-0 on a Triston Luke 1-yard scoring run and a Jon Croft Hollingsworth 46-yard field goal with just under eight minutes remaining in the contest.

ETSU, which failed to convert its lone scoring opportunity over the first three quarters with a missed 38-yard field goal attempt, avoided the shutout with an 11-yard Matt Thompson touchdown run with 1:25 remaining, ending a 12-play, 76-yard drive.

Furman compiled a season high 511 yards in total offense and limited ETSU to 210 total yards.

The Paladins rushed for a season high 198 yards and three touchdowns, led by Wilcox, who ran 10 times for 57 yards.

Backup quarterback P.J. Blazejowski, who took over for Hannon early in the third quarter, threw for 42 yards to help Furman finish with 313 yards passing — its fourth consecutive game with at least 300 passing yards.

Hannon, a Greer, S.C., product who last week became Furman’s all-time leader in passing and total offense, has thrown for 1,173 yards and 13 touchdowns over the last four games.

Redshirt defensive end Chinedu Okonya paced the Paladins’ defensive effort with eight tackles and pair of sacks.  Senior llinebackers Byron Johnson and Carl Rider returned to action after being sidelined with injuries over the last two weeks to combine for 14 tackles, 2.5 tackles for loss, and a sack.

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