Furman broke open a tight game in the second half to defeat UNC-Charlotte 44-20 Sunday and capture the team’s second Southern Rugby Conference (SRC) Championship.
RJ Bradley, Jacob Milchuck, Jeffrey Rein, Dylan Bostock and Hunter Branch all found the try zone to help the Paladins run their fall record to 10-0. It was beautiful day at packed Roberts Field Sunday as dozens of Furman alumni who were in town for Homecoming and the inaugural meeting of the Furman Rugby Foundation cheered their team to victory.
More importantly, the win sets up home field advantage for the Paladins in the USA Rugby South Regional, which will be held at Furman Nov. 19-20. Ranked fourth in the nation by two polls, Furman will face Sacred Heart in the first round of the South Regional. The full brackets have been posted online.
The winner of that four-team regional will move on to the Men’s Division II Final Four which will be part of USA Rugby’s Championship Weekend Dec. 3-4. For the fourth consecutive year Furman has hosted the event which also includes fall championship games for Women’s Div. I and II and Men’s D1AA.
“We have a really nice path before us. To be eliminated, someone will have to beat us on our home pitch,” said Furman Coach John Roberts.
Furman captured Div. III national championships in 2003, 2004, 2005 and finished runner up in 2007 and 2008. The Paladins moved up to Div. II in 2010. Should Furman claim the DII title, they would be the first program to capture both Div. III and Div. II national championships.
Furman has outscored its opponents 515-80 this fall. The team’s closest game was Oct. 6, a 13-5 victory over UNCC. In Sunday’s SRC Final, the Paladins led only 15-10 at halftime but made some adjustments that proved the difference in the final forty.
“We played a bit scattered on offense in the first half,” said Furman Coach John Roberts. “When we did kick we did so to their strength and UNCC took advantage. In the second half we limited our kicking.”
Furman scored two trys in the opening 12 minutes of the second half to build a 29-10 lead. UNCC added a try and penalty kick in the second half but could not contain a more relaxed and fluid Furman offense.
“We have a very good system, and if we run it correctly we can wear down teams,” said Roberts. “We also have some really good depth and that is something we have lacked in recent years.”