Citadel survives in OT with 42-35 win over Furman

Aaron Miller pitches to Jake Stenson.  Photo by Russ Pace

Aaron Miller pitches to Jake Stenson.
Photo by Russ Pace

by: Jeff Hartsell, postandcourier.com

Nov 8 2014 5:16 pm

Redemption was a homecoming theme at The Citadel on Saturday. The Bulldogs’ defense made up for allowing 35 points to the worst offense in the Southern Conference, and fullback Tyler Renew made up for his ongoing ball security issues. Renew ran for 103 yards and, after losing a crucial fumble, the 6-yard touchdown that forced overtime. The Citadel’s beleaguered defense then made Aaron Miller’s 2-yard score in OT stand up for a 42-35 win over rival Furman before 11,488 fans at Johnson Hagood Stadium.

The Bulldogs rushed the field in joy and relief after Furman quarterback P.J. Blazejowski’s fourth-down pass skittered to the turf in overtime, securing The Citadel’s first back-to-back victories this season.

“What a great performance by our kids,” said Citadel coach Mike Houston, whose team is 4-6 overall and 2-3 in the SoCon with two league games left to play. “I thought our back was to the wall all day, but the kids stayed together and kept fighting and found a way to get us into overtime. And then it was a phenomenal performance in overtime.”

Citadel quarterback Aaron Miller hit 8 of 13 passes for 142 yards and two touchdowns, and ran 19 times for 91 yards and two more scores. In OT, he carried six times for 21 yards and the go-ahead score. The Citadel piled up 549 total yards as slotback Jake Stenson ran for 80 yards and a score and caught a TD pass. Six different receivers caught passes, including a 10-yard TD catch by slotback Vinny Miller and terrific 40-yard sideline grab by Alex Glover to set up a first-half TD.

The Bulldogs’ defense, which had surrendered 28 points and 212 yards to Furman in the first half, gave up only one yard on four plays in OT as Blazejowski missed on all three of his passes in the extra period. “The coaches just told us to keep trusting in each other, keep fighting,” said senior linebacker Carl Robinson. “And that’s what we did, and we finally got things going at the end. We want to finish our season strong, and tonight’s game is going to start it for us.”

Blazejowski, a true freshman, led a spirited effort by an injury-riddled Furman team, which lost its eighth straight game to fall to 2-8 overall and 1-4 in the SoCon. The rookie completed 20 of 29 passes for 307 yards and three TDs, and ran nine times for 75 yards and another score as Furman built a 28-13 lead in the first half. Furman entered the game averaging 13.9 points, with 25 combined points in the previous three games. But the Paladins led 35-28 with 12:57 left after Blazejowski’s swing pass to Tanner Skogen turned into a 65-yard TD when Robinson and safety Malik Diggs collided with one another trying to make a tackle.

Renew then lost a fumble for the third straight game, giving Furman the ball at the Bulldogs’ 48 with 7:57 left and a chance to put the game away. The Citadel survived that drive when the Paladins had a TD run called back on a holding penalty, then missed a 30-yard field goal with 3:57 left.

The Bulldogs’ 5-8 slotback, Jonathan Dorogy, made the play of the game to save The Citadel, snaring a 45-yard bomb from Miller despite contact from a Furman defender. That gave Renew his shot at redemption, and he scored the tying TD from six yards out with 1:34 left. “I meant to throw that a little farther, but Dorogy made a great adjustment and came down with it,” Miller said. “I would give him the game ball if I had it, that’s how huge that play was. It was a big morale booster.”

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