Clemson Tops Furman, 28-17

It wasn't anything to write home about, but the Clemson Tigers picked up their first win of the 2003 season with a 28-17 win over the Furman Paladins Saturday afternoon in Death Valley. Quarterback Charlie Whitehurst led the way with over 300 yards passing and a touchdown.

Led by quarterback Charlie Whitehurst and wide receiver Kevin Youngblood, the Clemson Tigers defeated Division I-AA power Furman 28-17 before a crowd of over 70,000 at Memorial Stadium.

The Tigers' sophomore signal caller completed 23-of-31 passes for over 300 yards and a touchdown, while Youngblood caught 10 balls for 100 yards to help pave the way for the victory.

"A lot of people forget that Charlie is still a young quarterback," head coach Tommy Bowden said afterwards. "He did some good things for us out there today and put up some pretty good numbers."

The Tigers moved the ball effectively throughout the first half using the quick passing game to go along with a heavy dose of running back Duane Coleman. Clemson would get on the board first with an 85-yard drive in the first quarter, culminating in a 5-yard run by fullback Chad Jasmin.

After holding Furman on the following series, Whitehurst would hit Airese Currie in-stride for a beautiful 72-yard touchdown pass, and a 14-0 Clemson lead.

The Tigers would only manage two scores after Currie's reception, one coming on a J.J. Howard fumble return for a touchdown, and the other coming on a play that saw offensive lineman William Henry bring in a deflected pass before being hit and fumbling into the hands of Duane Coleman, who high stepped into the endzone for another score.

The Tigers would drive twice into field goal range, but Aaron Hunt failed to connect on both occasions. Hunt missed from 38 and 48 yards respectively and is now 0-for-3 on the year.

Despite trailing by 21 in the first half, the Paladins never gave up.

Quarterback Bo Moore faked a handoff, and then faked a reverse, before finding wide receiver Brian Bratton in the corner of the end zone for a 20-yard scoring strike. The touchdown, which was the Paladins' first against the Tigers since 1961, cut the lead to 14-7.

Furman continued to try and the run the ball all afternoon, but the Tigers' defense was up to the challenge, holding the Paladins to just 94 yards on 48 attempts.

Defensive coordinator John Lovett noted, "Our guys played well and they played hard. We made a lot of dumb penalties out there in the second half that we'll have to go back and look at, but other than that, I thought our guys really stepped up their play today."

Overall, the Tigers were penalized 11 times for 111 yards.

The Clemson running game, which has been the hot topic of discussion this past week, managed 124 yards on 40 carries. Duane Coleman led the way with 50 yards on 14 attempts.

"We've still got some work to do in the running game," said Bowden. "But the important thing today is that we got the win against a well-coached team. It may not have been pretty, but we got the win."

As suspected, Bowden elected to use some of his younger players more Saturday afternoon. Roman Fry saw more action at left tackle, and Cliff Harrell got the start at fullback. Offensive linemen Chip Myrick and Marion Dukes also saw an increased number of snaps.

RB Yusef Kelly (back) and WR Roscoe Crosby (personal), did not play.

The Paladins added a 3-yard touchdown run by Bratton with just over 12 minutes left in the game that pulled Furman within two scores at 28-14. Danny Marshall kicked a 40-yard field goal with 7:10 remaining to provide the final margin of victory.

With the win, the Tigers improve to 1-1 on the year. Clemson will now face Middle Tennessee State, a 29-10 loser at Georgia, next weekend. Kickoff is set for 5 PM. Top Stories