Rush Week: Furman’s Ground Game Too Much for Colgate in 42-21 Loss

Bill Stoklosa

Colgate football entered last Saturday’s game against the nationally-ranked Furman Paladins riding a wave of excitement after its miracle victory over Coastal Carolina the week before. However, Colgate failed to stop Furman’s running game and was unable to convert on some key opportunities on its way to a 42-21 loss.

Things started out great for Colgate. On the first possession of the game, Colgate fed the Paladins a steady diet of play fakes and misdirection plays and the result was a 74-yard drive capped off by a four-yard run from senior running back Jordan Scott. Furman answered right back with a 65-yard drive capped off by a six-yard pass from quarterback Jordan Sorrells to Tersoo Uhaa to knot the score at seven. A crucial offside call on Colgate on third-and-three from its own 32 helped keep the drive alive. Colgate was forced to punt on its next possession, but a great kick by senior Jacob Stein pinned Furman back on its own nine. However, Furman would not be denied and drove the remaining 91 yards to take the lead on a touchdown run by Mike Brown. Colgate gave the ball up on downs on its next possession when a rush attempt by Jordan Scott failed to convert a fourth-and-one from the Furman 36. The spot of the ball however, was questionable.

Furman took advantage of the opportunity and drove down to the Colgate six before settling for a field goal by Matthew Cesari and a 17-7 advantage. The Raiders battled right back as sophomore quarterback Greg Sullivan capped off a 69-yard drive with a 9-yard rush into the end zone with under a minute left in the half. Unfortunately for the Raiders, they kicked the ball short on the ensuing kickoff and then saw Mike Brown return the ball 38 yards to the Colgate 36. The Paladins got close enough to nail another field goal before halftime and went into the locker room with a 20-14 lead.

It looked like Colgate might regain momentum in the second half after forcing a Furman punt on the half’s opening drive. However, the Raider offense missed a golden opportunity to regain the lead when they went three-and-out on the ensuing possession and had to punt it away. To makes matters worse, Furman’s Adam Mims did his best Roscoe Parrish impression and ran the punt back 59 yards to the Colgate 25. Two plays later, the Paladins were in the end zone on a pass from Sorrells to Larry Hedden. Furman went for two and was successful, bringing the score to 28-14.

The Raiders were not prepared to surrender without a fight. They got on the board again quickly when Scott broke off a 24-yard run on fourth-and-one to bring the score to 28-21. However, Colgate’s defense could not hold, and in less than three minutes, Furman had upped its lead to 35-21 on a 15-yard run by Tersoo Uhaa. Furman kept the pressure on, as Sorrells threw a one-yard touchdown pass to Seth Skogen to end the scoring on the day. With the loss, Colgate is now 1-2.

Furman had an amazing game on offense. They had 515 total yards, including an astronomical 304 rushing yards. Mike Brown had the largest share of the yards on the ground with 130 yards. For a team that had a phenomenal run defense last season, Colgate’s struggles against Furman and earlier this year against Stony Brook have been a troubling sign for the Raiders. Some of these struggles can be attributes to the fact that people like Mike Gallihugh are no longer with the team, but that is not the whole story.

“We need to play better,” Head Coach Dick Biddle said speaking of his run defense. “I think that sometimes we’re maybe pressing a little bit. We’ve been out of position at times. Hopefully we can get better with time and experience.”

The Paladins’ passing game was not half bad either as Sorrells had 215 yards and three touchdowns through the air.

Colgate also looked good on offense, compiling 342 total yards. Scott led the way on the ground with 113 yards and two scores, while Greg Sullivan had his best game of the year with 183 yards through the air to go with 48 on the ground. The head coach was impressed with his performance.

“He’s feeling more comfortable,” Coach Biddle said. “He’s got his confidence up and he did a very good job.”

Sullivan’s favorite target was junior wide receiver Pat Simonds, who had 98 yards on the day. On defense junior linebacker Greg Hadley led the way with 10 tackles.

Though they lost by three touchdowns, Colgate had many opportunities to change the complexion of the game, but failed to capitalize. The costly offside penalty, the inability to convert on fourth down, the three-and-out on the their first offensive possession in the second half and the inability to cover two crucial kicks all came together to cost Colgate a football game the Raiders otherwise might have had a chance of winning. The Raiders will have to avoid such mistakes tomorrow when they welcome the Big Green of Dartmouth, who are playing their first game of the season, to Andy Kerr Stadium at 1 p.m.