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Furman upends South Carolina 22-14

Photo courtesy of Deborah Miller.

Photo courtesy of Deborah Miller.

Furman used a strong offense and the wind to build a three-try halftime lead Saturday that was strong enough to carry the day in a 22-14 win over the University of South Carolina.

The victory is Furman’s third consecutive against a Division I team. The contest pitted the champions of the Division II Southern Rugby Conference against the winners of the DI Southeastern Conference. The game, played under blustery conditions at Roberts Field, was a contest of field position.

Electing to play with the wind to their back in the first half, freshman flanker RJ Bradley put the Paladins ahead with pick off a goal line ruck near the nine minute mark. Sophomore Jacob Milchuck added the conversion. Five minutes later, Milchuck added a penalty kick to put Furman ahead 10-0.

Near the 32 minute mark, the Paladins struck again when sophomore prop Jeff Tonge bullied in a try on a set penalty play to build Furman’s lead to 15-0 going into the break.

The Gamecocks, who have a penchant for rallying, came out strong against Furman in the second 40. Playing with a stiff wind at their back, USC scored a try and conversion near the 50 minute mark to cut Furman’s lead to 15-7.

Just three minutes later, though, sophomore 8-main Patrick Musau sliced through several Gamecock defenders on a 20-meter dash that put the Paladins back in charge 7-22. The Gamecocks scored again with 12 minutes remaining to shrink Furman’s lead to 14-22.

USC had several scoring opportunities but were undone by their own mistakes and a hard-hitting Paladin defense that was determined to win the day.

“We took better of advantage of the wind than they did and I think that won the day,” said Furman Coach John Roberts. “We played well on offense in the first half and good defense in the second.”

Roberts, a University of South Carolina alumni and former club president for Gamecock rugby, said he was grateful for the opportunity to host a top 25 D1 team.

“USC has a tremendous program and I have watched them with great pride as Mark (USC Coach Mark Morris) has constructed a winning tradition there,” said Roberts. “I know they were down a few starters. We look forward to returning the favor next year with a game in Columbia.”

Last updated February 16, 2015
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Clinton Colmenares
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