By: Darcy Waskiewicz, Sports Editor
For many, a new school year means new classes, reconnecting with friends, and making new memories. But as the fall semester approaches, some find themselves anticipating something entirely different – the start of the football season.
On the first Saturday of the school year, Furman football kicked off the new season with a triumphant 46-13 win against Charleston Southern in front of an excited home crowd.
The Paladins, led by third-year head coach Clay Hendrix, got on the board first with a 4-yard touchdown from redshirt-freshman Darren Grainger in the first quarter. The Paladin quarterback also passed for 130 yards and helped add insurance with a 6-yard touchdown pass to junior Ryan DeLuca in the third quarter.
Charleston Southern pushed back with touchdowns in the second and third quarters but were silenced in the fourth quarter and ultimately fell to the Paladins, who totaled 509 yards of offense and maintained the lead throughout the entire game.
A dominant performance from Paladin junior kicker Grayson Atkins contributed to the Paladins’ success against Charleston Southern. Atkins totaled eight points, and his 39-yard field goal on Saturday tied a Furman record for consecutive made field goals at 12, originally set by Danny Marshall (2000-2003). Atkins was also named the Southern Conference Special Teams Player of the Week, shining a well-deserved spotlight on his impressive season opener.
Junior Devin Wynn also had a successful outing with 131 rushing yards, making it his third straight 100-yard performance. And senior Thomas Gordon’s performance placed him on Furman’s Top 10 in receptions at ninth place with 116 after he caught five passes for 53 yards on Saturday.
Entering Saturday’s game, the Paladins were ranked 17th in the American Football Coaches Association (AFCA) Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) preseason poll. After the team’s victorious season opener, the Paladins moved into an 11th place ranking in the AFCA FCS Coaches’ Poll released on Sept. 2.
Furman football finished the 2018 season with four consecutive wins and a three-way tie for Southern Conference Champions with Wofford and East Tennessee State.
The Paladins look to carry the success and strong offense from the season opener into the next couple of weeks as the team prepares for away games against Georgia State on Saturday, Sept. 7, and Virginia Tech on Saturday, Sept. 14.