If the Paladin offense has been the star of the first two games, the mighty Paladin defense snatched the headline with their four turnovers in the 27-14 downing of the #18 ranked East Tennessee State Buccaneers.
Yet again, the Paladins got going early with an Ian William’s field goal just two minutes into the game following an interception by ETSU quarterbackQB Tyler Riddel to Furman’s Hugh Ryan. This turnover would set the tone for the game to follow.
Following this turnover, a mistake by the Paladin secondary allowed ETSU to take the lead with a seventy-five-yard touchdown pass from Riddel. From there, the Paladin coaching staff was quick to adjust. This adjustment proved fruitful as the Paladin defense only allowed one more touchdown for the rest of the game, which came after a long, out-of-desperation drive from the Buccaneers.
The defense could force punt after punt for most of the game. If it was not a punt, it was an interception that came at the hands of Hugh Ryan, Jalen Miller, and Dominic Morris. The defense was also able to force a fumble courtesy of Cally Chizik and recovered by Kam Brinson.
As for the offense, it was business as usual. OC Justin Roper’s offense with QB Tyler Huff at the helm seemed unimpeachable as Huff threw for 218 yards and two touchdown passes on 24/40 passing. Leading the way for the receiving corps was once again the Joshua Harris-Ryan Miller duo, which has become one of the most formidable in the Southern Conference. With additional help from WR Wayne Anderson Jr, the Paladin offense reigned supreme through the air.
As for moving the ball on the ground, Huff was the leading rusher with ninety-eight yards on thirteen carries. RB Dominic Roberto followed close behind with eighty yards on ten carries, including a long forty-six yard touchdown run, which was the final “dagger” in the game with just forty-eight seconds remaining. The offense as a whole was able to produce 400 yards of total offense under the moon in Johnson City, which is no easy task considering the Buccaneers have a 21-7 record at home. Following the triumph over the Buccaneers, both safety Hugh Ryan and kicker Ian William deserve a shoutout for respectively being named the SoCon Defensive Player of the Week and Special Teams Player of the Week.
In other news, despite defeating the #18 ranked team in the country, the FCS pollsters still have the Dins on the outside of the top twenty-five with ninety-nine receiving votes, needing 105 to make the #25 spot. As for SoCon standings, the Paladins (2-1 OVR, 1-0 SoCon) sit in second place behind the #10 Chattanooga Mocs (3-0 OVR, 1-0 SoCon).
The Dins will have theirplay the last game of their three-game road trip this Saturday at the non-conference Charleston Southern Buccaneers at 12 p.m.:00 PM. The Buccaneers are winless on the season and look to rebound after two-straight blowout losses at the hands of NC State (FBS) and #19 Eastern Kentucky. The Dins should not take this team lightly as they are very likely highly motivated to not drop a fourth-straight game. Looking ahead, the Dins will return to Paladin Stadium October 1 against Samford at 2 p.m.:00 PM as they begin their yearly home-away conference schedule pattern. Go Dins!