Furman led by Roberto in 47-40 win

Furman quarterback Darren Grainger breaks out of the pocket during the first half of an NCAA...
Furman quarterback Darren Grainger breaks out of the pocket during the first half of an NCAA college football game against Clemson Saturday, Sept. 1, 2018, in Clemson, S.C. (AP Photo/Richard Shiro)(AP)
Published: Oct. 15, 2022 at 11:06 PM EDT
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GREENVILLE, S.C. (FOX Carolina) - Dominic Roberto rushed for a career-high 252 yards and scored three touchdowns to help Furman outlast Western Carolina, 47-40, Saturday afternoon at Paladin Stadium. 

With the Paladins leading 27-20, Wayne Anderson Jr. keyed a 17-point third quarter with a 97-yard kickoff return for a touchdown to open the half. Furman (5-2, 3-1 SoCon) extended its lead to 44-20 on Tyler Huff’s 14-yard touchdown toss to Ryan Miller with less than a minute left in the quarter, but Western Carolina mounted a furious fourth-quarter rally. 

TJ Jones rushed nine yards for a touchdown, and quarterback Cole Gonzales connected with Censere Lee on touchdown passes of 42 and 69 yards to trim the margin to 44-40 with 2:18 to play. Furman’s Travis Blackshear returned WCU’s onside kick attempt to the Catamount 25-yard line, and Ian Williams booted a 38-yard field goal four plays later to up the Paladin lead to 47-40 with 1:07 remaining. 

Gonzales marched the Catamounts to the Paladin 26-yard line with three seconds to go, but Travis Yates tackled Lee at the five following a 21-yard pass completion as time expired. 

Western Carolina (3-4, 1-3 SoCon) totaled 691 yards of offense, including 462 through the air. 

Roberto’s record day on the ground, which came on a career-high 25 carries and represented the third-highest rushing performance in Furman history, fueled the Paladins’ offense to 426 rushing yards and 492 yards of total offense.

Roberto got Furman on the board with a 62-yard scoring run on the Paladins’ first possession.  The redshirt junior from Fayetteville, N.C., added a 20-yard touchdown catch with 31 seconds left in the first period and reached paydirt with a one-yard dive early in the second quarter to put the Paladins ahead, 21-7.

Furman appeared set to take a sizable lead into halftime after quarterback Tyler Huff connected with tight end Ryan Miller on a 13-yard scoring toss to make it 27-10, but Western Carolina needed only 12 seconds to answer when David White pulled in a Carolos Davis pass and outraced the Paladin secondary for a 75-yard touchdown play.

The Catamounts sliced Furman’s advantage to 27-20 with a Richard McCollum 27-yard field goal on the final play of the first half. Paladin signal caller Tyler Huff completed 7-of-10 passes for just 66 yards.  Three of his connections went for scores, including two to Miller and one to Roberto.  Miller’s touchdown grabs gave the Paladin senior 10 in the last 10 games and upped his career tally to 23, three shy of Furman’s career standard.

Defensive tackle Matt Sochovka was credited with blocks on two Western Carolina PAT attempts, the second of which came with 2:18 remaining in the game to keep the Paladins’ lead at 44-40. Furman travels to Lexington, Va., to face VMI in a 1:30 p.m. contest next Saturday.