As first games go, Autry Denson’s debut as the head football coach at Charleston Southern had some good and some bad.
The Buccaneers opened the season with a 46-13 loss at Furman as the defending co-champions of the Southern Conference did what they do best. Run the football.
The Paladins rushed for 369 yards, averaging 9.2 yards per attempt, on their way to 509 total yards of offense. Devin Wynn led the charge behind a dominating performance by the offensive line with 131 yards and a touchdown. Wayne Anderson added 90 yards and a score while Carson Maples tacked on 86 yards, including a 66-yard scoring burst.
“Win or lose, it’s still one game of a 12-game season so we have to keep on moving forward and get back to work on Monday,” Denson said. “Lot of excitement to see the guys compete and that’s really all I wanted to see them do. God honored effort and God honored attitude. Compete their butts off and have fun doing it. We did that in spurts but I would like to see them have more fun. Football is a game of the moment. We have to enjoy it while we can.”
The game also served as the debut of CSU’s new air-raid offense as the Buccaneers transform from an option-based attack. Redshirt freshman Jack Chambers drew the starting nod at quarterback and completed 18 of 25 passes for 192 yards and a rushing touchdown. Senior Geoffrey Wall had seven catches for 90 yards, one of eight receivers to catch a pass.
“Jack is who we thought he was,” Denson said. “I thought he played a great game. He got in there and fought and he did a great job of leading this team today.”
CSU also rushed for 192 yards, led by Terrence Wilson’s 69 yards. Wilson scored on a 52-yard run, CSU’s first touchdown of the season after falling behind 14-0 early in the second quarter.
Furman started redshirt freshman Darren Grainger at quarterback and Grainger completed 14 of 20 passes for 130 yards. His 4-yard run gave Furman a 7-0 lead with 7:26 left in the first quarter.
The Paladins went 80 yards on 10 plays on their next possession with Devin Abrams scoring on a 9-yard run with 1:06 left in the first.
Wilson’s burst of 52 yards on his first carry of the game cut the lead to 14-6 on the first play of the second quarter but the Paladins scored the next 10 points of the half and led 24-6 at the break.
Charleston Southern opened preseason practice with a new head coach, new faces on the field and on the sidelines, and a host of unanswered questions.
CSU’s best drive of the day opened the third quarter as Chambers scored on a 1-yard run to finish off a nine-play, 71 yard drive. But that would mark the last trip to pay dirt for the Bucs.
Furman’s run game wore down CSU’s defense in the latter stages and the Paladins added a pair of 66-yard scoring runs in the fourth quarter.
CSU will visit South Carolina next Saturday while Furman will play Georgia State.