Furman University's Student Newspaper

The Paladin

Furman University's Student Newspaper

The Paladin

Furman University's Student Newspaper

The Paladin

The Dins Fall to #16 Samford, 34-27

Courtesy of Furman Athletics

The issues that plagued the Dins squad last week vs. Charleston Southern seemed to spill over into the game against #16 Samford last Saturday, where the Dins fell short 34-27. However, as the fans filed out of the stadium after the frustrating defeat, it was not only the team’s performance that festered on the minds of all but a decision by the Southern Conference referees early in the game with a game-changing influence on the outcome.

As starting QB Tyler Huff suffered an injury early in the previous game, sophomore QB Jace Wilson would be replacing him for this game. Huff had been an impressive contributor to the offense in the first few games, but the Dins were lucky to have another experienced QB on hand in Jace Wilson, who started the second half of the season last year.

The Dins came out of the locker room strong against the very talented Samford squad, building a 10-0 lead early in the game Samford then fielded a kickoff to their twenty-eight-yard line. Samford QB Michael Hiers took the field and threw a quick pass into the flat to WR Chandler Smith, where he was met promptly by Ivan Yates with a thunderous clap and a roar from the crowd as it looked like Yates had also come up with an interception. The officials would rule that it was an interception and a clean hit, giving the Dins a short field and a great scoring opportunity.

However, when the Dins offense looked to take the field, the referees began conversing again. It is typical for such a key play to warrant a second look, especially ones with such lucrative outcomes. But something was very much off about this one. The referees seemed to be twiddling their thumbs and could not make up their minds. To just about everyone in the stadium, including the announcers in the booth, it looked like Furman just made a great play. But the referees looked at it longer. A little too long, to the surprise of many.

After nearly 8 minutes of no gameplay, the Furman crowd began chanting, “WE WANT FOOTBALL!” Even some of the Samford football players began to scratch their heads, and it looked like, at times, even Samford defensive coordinator Chris Boone was briefing his guys on how to prepare for what was likely going to be a red zone defensive situation.

After fifteen minutes, which is most likely the longest reviewed play in college football history, the referees decided after two reviews: the hit was clean, but there was no interception. The Furman crowd erupted into boos and jeers. The Southern Conference would later admit that this call was a mistake and that the referees would be reprimanded.

Every football fan knows that football is a game of momentum. Not only does a fifteen-minute delay kill any momentum, but the overturning of the play also gave a considerable advantage to Samford. After the frustrating delay, a seemingly confused Paladin defense took the field and gave up a quick touchdown.

Despite the frustrating call, the game went on, but the tone had changed. Samford and QB Michael Hiers could make big plays after big plays with no answer from Furman. The Paladin offense stalled and could not cap drives with six points. Despite a late rally, the Dins fell to Samford, 34-27.

The receiving corps had a great game, with nearly three receivers eclipsing one hundred yards. QB Jace Wilson had a fantastic game with 329 passing yards (38/59 passing) with three touchdown passes. Joshua Harris was able to knab two touchdown passes from Wilson, and TE Ryan Miller was able to come down with one as well.

One glaring issue from the Paladins, aside from a lack of efficiency in the running game, was ball security. The Dins lost three fumbles during the game, and Samford was able to capitalize quickly off of them. In the games to come, the Dins must be able to cut down on the turnovers to win.

Head coach Clay Hendrix admitted after the game in a press conference that it was the horrible call by the referees that got to the players, which many can agree on. Such a tone-changing call or incident can drastically affect a team’s will to perform.

As for the running game and ball security, I am convinced they will have this figured out by the next game. Hard work certainly pays off, and with the hard work that the Dins are putting in this week in practice, expect them to show out on the road – in a hostile environment – this weekend at the Citadel. Go Dins!

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