Thursday, May 22, 2014

Coming Up Short

What's the first thing that pops into your mind when you hear the term "money game"? A major team running up the score on a smaller, lower-budget program cloaked in anonymity? Well, for quite a few years (not counting last season), the Terriers were not just a small FCS opponent. They were a small FCS opponent that was not to be taken lightly. 
Okay, okay. There were a few blowouts sprinkled in the mix, but for the most part, Wofford kept up with (and on several occasions, edged ahead for a time) the "big guys" that make up the FBS. 

When you think of in-state rivalries, Wofford vs. South Carolina is undoubtedly not the first to come to mind. When you look back at the series in recent years, however, you can see that it was much more closely matched than you may think. 

In 2006, the Gamecocks edged the Terriers by a touchdown, 27-20.  The victory was secured by a stop in the final seconds of the game; Wofford was inside the twenty. 

Two seasons later, South Carolina won a slightly easier matchup by a score of 23-13. 

In 2012, an Eric Breitenstein touchdown in the waning seconds of the first half secured a 7-7 halftime score that stayed true until the fourth quarter, when several Terrier mistakes led to a less-than-impressive 24-7 Gamecock win.   

The year before, fellow Palmetto State foe Clemson had to fight even harder for a win over the Terriers. Wofford struck first, and held tight to head into halftime tied up at 21. 

In the second half, however, Wofford couldn't get the same momentum going, and only put up two field goals to lose 35-27. 

So, the Terriers were a formidable transitional game adversary.  Steve Spurrier was even quoted as saying, "Wofford almost beats us every time they come in here."

We came close to rocking the college football world (or at least the region) a couple times, but fell short each time. 

That's not something to be ashamed of, though. 

After all, they're the major schools, in the "big-time" conferences that seem to attract all the recruits. We're a much smaller school, with fewer scholarships and none of the flashy commercialism that comes with being a national contender. Some of them aren't even teams anymore, they're "brands". 

And then there's Wofford. Look at us, going straight into that fray, into a place where many would say  that we don't even belong, and coming so close to victory.  Mike Ayers once said that as long as his team had nothing left in the tank at the end of the game, a loss to an FBS team isn't that bad. 

When we played those games, it certainly felt as if we belonged there. 

That, my friends, is something to look back on with pride.  

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