GREENVILLE -- Ben Dupree’s day could not have gotten off to a worse start. But by the end of the afternoon, The Citadel quarterback was standing on a bench in the locker room and cheering wildly, one of the heroes of the Bulldogs’ 42-20 win over rival Furman.
Dupree threw an interception on the game’s first play, helping put The Citadel in immediate 7-0 hole. But he bounced back by running for a 45-yard touchdown and making two clutch throws in the fourth quarter, including a 28-yard TD pass to Domonic Jones to seal the game at 35-20.
On the first play, Dupree left his throw behind a wide-open Jones, running a slant route. It was picked off by Furman’s Reggie Thomas.
“That first pass didn’t really bother me,” said Dupree. “Maybe in my previous years, that would have affected me. But I’m a junior now, and I’ve struggled before, so I know how to handle it better.”
Of course, it helped that the Bulldogs immediately tied the score at 7-7, on a 75-yard kickoff return by Keith Gamble and a 25-yard TD run by Van Dyke Jones, the first of his three touchdowns.
Dupree scored his 45-yard TD on the first play of the Bulldogs’ next possession for a 14-7 lead. And in the fourth quarter, he made two of The Citadel’s biggest throws of the season.
With the Bulldogs up by 28-20 and facing third-and-18, Dupree whistled a 23-yard pass to Terrance Martin, who barely got his toes down inbounds.
“I thought I saw a lane to run, but it wasn’t there,” Dupree said. “So I looked up and saw Terrance, and I threw it where the defense couldn’t get it. He made a play.”
Later, Dupree scrambled and drew up just short of the line of scrimmage before finding Domonic Jones wide open on the left side for a 28-yard TD and a 35-20 lead.
“I didn’t know if I was past the line or not,” he said. “I just improvised and made a play.”
Dupree finished with 84 yards on 12 carries, and hit 2 of 4 passes for 51 yards. Van Dyke Jones added 74 yards and a career-best three touchdowns on eight tries as The Citadel ran for 309 yards.
Run, Cass, Run
Citadel punter Cass Couey was another hero, running 18 yards with a fake punt on fourth-and-5 from the Bulldogs’ 30. That kept alive a 75-yard drive capped by Dalton Trevino’s 17-yard TD for a 28-20 lead in the third quarter.
“I’ve been waiting for them to call that all year,” Couey said. “We had two fakes going into the game, and it just depended on what look we got. The shield opened up a huge hole for me, and I just ran.”
Coach Kevin Higgins credited assistant Aashon Larkins with the play.
“He schemed it up during the week,” Higgins said. “We thought we saw something and if they gave us a look, it would be there. Cass did a great job executing it.”
Furman finished at 3-8 in coach Bruce Fowler’s second season, the Paladins’ worst record since 1994.
“I think we took a step backwards, and I’m really disappointed in that,” Fowler said. “We didn’t make the progress that I was hoping we’d make from last week (a 33-28 loss at Appalachian State) to this week.
“In all phases of the game, we were just inconsistent and not good enough. We didn’t execute. That’s what it comes down to.”
• Fullback Darien Robinson ran for 64 yards and cracked the 1,000-yard mark for the season with 1,007 yards. He’s the Bulldogs’ first 1,000-yard rusher since Tory Cooper in 2007.
• The Citadel finished the regular season with three straight wins for the first time since 1997. The Bulldog also beat App State, Georgia Southern and Furman in the same season for the first time since 2003.
• Linebacker James Riley led the Bulldogs with 12 tackles, and defensive end Bay Amrhein had nine tackles, 2.5 for loss, and forced a fumble. The Citadel had eight tackles for loss, including 2.5 sacks by Chris Billingslea and one by Mitchell Jeter. Nick Willis and Julian Baxter picked off passes.
• Victor Hill, a 6-2, 265-pound junior, started at right guard. Receiver Greg Adams (wisdom teeth) missed the game.
• Furman’s Ray Early kicked a 52-yard field goal, the longest in 28 years against The Citadel.