By Hunter Reid
Special to College Sports Journal
Editor’s Note: This article is courtesy of Furmanpaladins.com
ORLANDO, FL. — Jon Croft Hollingsworth kicked a school record 55-yard fourth quarter field goal and Furman rode a strong second half defensive effort to beat UCF, 16-15, in football action Saturday evening at Bright House Networks Stadium.
The win marked the Furman’s first triumph over an FBS opponent since the Paladins downed North Carolina, 28-3, in 1999. The loss was the first suffered by UCF to an FCS foe in the Knights’ FBS history.
“It was a tight game and had some odd bounces here and there, but we went out in the second half and made an impact,” said Furman coach Bruce Fowler. “Jon Croft Hollingsworth’s field goal was a big kick, and we got more and more confident on defense. I’m so proud of this this team and the win.”
With Furman trailing 15-13, Hollingsworth, a sophomore from Greenwood, S.C., drilled his school record 55-yard effort over the cross bar with room to spare to give the Paladins the 16-15 lead.
”We were talking about a couple of options there and I said ‘Jon, what do you think,’ and he wanted to kick it,” Fowler said. ”We had a good opportunity to get a leg up so we took a chance and he did a great job.”
From that point Furman’s defense took over, forcing the Knights into back-to-back punts and then sealing the outcome with a fumble recovery by Byron Johnson and with Trey Robinson‘s second interception of the game, at UCF 37, on the Knights’ final two possessions.
Furman rallied from a 12-0 first half deficit.
Ernie Cain‘s 1-yard run just before the half got the Paladins on the board, and Reese Hannon‘s 61-yard touchdown strike to Andrej Suttles early in the second half gave Furman a 13-12 advantage.
UCF’s only second half points came on Matthew Wright 29-yard field goal with 11 seconds left in the third quarter, giving the Knights a 15-13 lead.
Furman clipped UCF 270-269 in total offense, holding the Knights to just 112 total yards in the second half.
Hannon completed 15-of-29 passes for 188 yards. His favorite target was Suttles, who claimed five catches for 113 yards and the 61-yard score, the third longest of his career.
The Paladins, who entered the contest without a forced turnover in their first two games, ended the game with four, highlighted by Robinson’s two interceptions, a pickoff by Rodney Anderson, and Johnson’s fumble recovery.
Cory Magwood topped all defenders with 12 tackles, and Carl Rider had 11, including two for-loss.
Hollingsworth’s new school standard 55-yard field goal bested the previous mark of 54 yards by Scott Beckler versus Presbyterian in 2007.