(Citadel SID)Charleston, S.C. - The Furman defense stymied The Citadel on a fourth down play in the red zone late in the fourth quarter to ensure a 24-17 win over the Bulldogs in a Southern Conference contest on Saturday at Johnson Hagood Stadium.
The Citadel (1-4, 1-2 SoCon), which entered the game tops in the conference allowing just one fourth down conversion on four tries, halted the Paladin offense on two 4th and 1 plays, including a late fourth quarter stop which resulted in a turnover on downs giving the ball back to the Bulldogs with 3:46 left to play.
On The Citadel's final offensive series of the night, Aaron Miller, who finished 7-of-14 passing for 110 yards and one touchdown, hit Brandon Eakins on a 13-yard completion to place the Bulldogs at the Furman 38.
Two incomplete passes and a five-yard completion to Matt Thompson left the Bulldogs with a 4th and 5 from the Furman 33 when Miller kept the drive alive with a 12-yard rush to the Paladin 21.
Following two incomplete passes and a one-yard rush by Darien Robinson, the Bulldogs were faced with a 4th and 9. Miller rolled out to his left and heaved a pass near the goal line to Vinny Miller but was unable to connect with the slot back, resulting in a turnover on downs.
Furman was able to run out the clock en route to earning the win in its conference opener while improving its record to 2-2 overall.
Robinson hauled in a 59-yard touchdown pass from Aaron Miller to tie the game at 17 with 14:51 left in the fourth quarter, but a Miller interception resulted in a two-play, 56-yard drive that resulted in a 13-yard run from Tanner Skogen to put the Paladins ahead for good.
The catch by Robinson was a career-long for the senior B-back and was his first career receiving touchdown. He closed out the game with 63 yards on 14 carries, moving him into sixth place all-time on The Citadel career rushing list with 2,396 yards.
The Citadel offense gained 321 total yards, including 189 through the air, marking the first time since switching to the triple option offense in 2010 that the Bulldogs finished a game with more passing yards than rushing (132).
A defensive first quarter concluded with a 3-0 Furman lead on a 34-yard Ray Early field goal.
The Paladins used their first possession of the second quarter to put together a five-play, 88-yard drive which culminated with an eight-yard touchdown run by Terry Robinson to give Furman a 10-0 lead.
Terrance Martin returned the ensuing kickoff 68 yards to the Paladin 25, but the Bulldogs were unable to come away with points after three stalled rushing attempts and a missed Thomas Warren field goal from 37 yards out.
A promising 10-play, 45-yard drive following a Furman three-and-out late in the second quarter put The Citadel on the board with a 15-yard touchdown pass from Ben Dupree to Jake Stenson, cutting the Furman lead to 10-7 with 1:22 left to play in the half. The touchdown catch was Stenson's second in as many games.
With just over a minute remaining in the half, Furman used a 15-yard pass interference penalty on the Bulldogs followed by a 36-yard pass from Reese Hannon to Andrej Suttles to get the Paladins down to The Citadel 2 with 27 seconds remaining. Robinson punched it in the end zone from the wildcat formation for the second time on the day to give the Paladins a 17-7 halftime edge.
The Citadel gained momentum to open the second half with its first fourth down stop of the day when Carl Robinson stuffed Hank McCloud at the line of scrimmage to give the Bulldogs the ball back at the Paladin 44.
A Stenson rush for 36 yards on the first play brought the Bulldogs inside the Furman 10, but a costly 15-yard chop block penalty pushed them back to the 23. The drive stalled, and the Bulldogs were only able to score three points on a 31-yard field goal from Warren to pull them within a touchdown with 9:20 left in the third.
The Citadel stays home next Saturday as it hosts Appalachian State on Parent's Day. The Bulldogs jumped out to a 28-0 lead against the Mountaineers last season and coasted to a 52-28 win in Boone. Appalachian State brings a 1-3 record into the contest.