Today, the Terriers kicked off the 2014 football season in Atlanta, taking on the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets of the ACC. It's the two squads' first meeting since 1901, so we can't really say much in that respect. Everything will have to be settled on the gridiron at Bobby Dodd Stadium.
Terriers start off slow, come up huge late to make it a 10-9 deficit at halftime
Lorenzo Long started off the season on a strong note, returning the opening kickoff for thirty-four hard-earned yards, only achieved by echoing the same resiliency and unceasing leg movement displayed prominently by players such as Eric Breitenstein.
From the line of scrimmage, the Terriers couldn't get anything going in their first series, going three-and-out. Redshirt freshman David Marvin's first collegiate punt flew forty yards off the Charlotte, N.C. native's foot.
The Yellow Jackets drove seventy-eight yards in nine plays, spearheaded by a few Zach Laskey rushes, one for four yards into the end zone.
The Terriers began to click on the next drive. Starter Evan Jacks used a broken play to run for the first of the squad's six first downs of the half. They converted another through a six-yard pass to Will Irwin, and through another Jacks rush, this one good for twenty yards. Wofford made it to the Georgia Tech twenty-two yard line, where David Marvin continued his exceptional half with a 39-yard field goal, the first of his collegiate career.
Wofford's young defense continued to come up big, forcing the Yellow Jackets to go three-and-out.
The half continued to speed by, and after the Terriers were again forced to punt, Georgia Tech drove to the Wofford fourteen yard line before the Yellow Jacket's momentum was again depleted with Harrison Butker's missed 31-yard field goal attempt.
On their next drive, the Terriers, mainly led by Lorenzo Long's short gains, advanced to their own fourty-five yard line, before being forced to punt. During this punt, not only did the Terriers nearly come up with a huge fumble recovery, but Jim Dolinak was flagged with a fifteen-yard penalty for continuing to play after his helmet had come off.
Georgia Tech was forced to punt, and soon the Terriers were left with ninety-six yards and 1:15 before halftime. Wofford was desperately in need of a big end-of-the-half drive, like what materialized during the 2012 matchup against South Carolina.
A pair of Jonny Martin runs and Georgia Tech timeouts later, it was looking bleak. Then Ray Smith happened. In 92-yard touchdown run that put the Terriers on top sort of fashion. In all the excitement that stemmed from this play, David Marvin's first collegiate extra-point attempt was blocked.
The Yellow Jackets quickly snapped back into place, and set up a 30-yard field goal for Harrison Butker that put Georgia Tech up by a point at the half.
"I know that we're capable of playing better than this," Mike Ayers said in a halftime interview with Fox Sports. Well, let's do it, Terriers.
Despite Terriers' resiliency, Georgia Tech pulls away late with power
Georgia Tech started off the third quarter with an unrelenting attack, capping off an eleven-play, seventy-five yard drive with a nineteen-yard touchdown pass from Justin Thomas to DeAndre Smelter.
The Terriers put together a nice drive of their own, making their way from their own twenty-five to the Yellow Jacket thirty-six yard line, where David Marvin, only a redshirt freshman in his first collegiate game, booted in a 51-yard field goal to cut the deficit to 17-12.
Hope faded quickly, however, as the next series saw only one play following a twenty-nine yard kickoff return, a seventy-one yard touchdown pass to Smelter that, unfortunately, saw some of that aforementioned churning and resiliency displayed by Ray Smith earlier in the game.
Wofford did not go away easily, however, and carried over a drive into the early minutes of the fourth quarter that saw two quarterbacks: Evan Jacks, today's starter, and Michael Weimer. Jacks finished the drive under center, and posted a seventeen-yard run that set up Octavius Harden's four-yard score.
Georgia Tech again came back with a punch, using a sixty-five yard pass to Broderick Snoddy to pave the way for Zack Laskey's touchdown run.
On their next series, the Terriers were forced to punt, and it proved to be more than the Terriers' bargained for, as David Marvin was injured on the play.
Laskey led the charge for the Yellow Jackets during their next charge, which ended with Synjyn Days' four-yard touchdown run.
That would do it for the Terriers, who turned the ball over on loss of downs with Michael Weimer under center to seal their fate, as they fell 38-19 to Georgia Tech.
"Don't hang your head. You gotta go to work." Mike Ayers' words in a postgame interview with the Wofford/IMG Sports Network epitomize the general tone surrounding the loss. After all, not many expected such a fight in the first place. The loss brings Wofford's current losing streak to five games, and, as it was pointed out by Terrier color analyst Thom Henson during today's broadcast, it is the longest losing streak of Ayers' long tenure at Wofford.
The Terriers, and David Marvin specifically, have an off week to recuperate and prepare for the September 16th home opener against the Division II North Greenville Crusaders.
Additional facts and figures:
- The Terriers led the way with 271 rushing yards, compared to Georgia Tech's 226. Wofford also had four more rushing attempts (47) and yards per rush (5.8) than the Yellow Jackets.
- Wofford finished the day with fifty-five passing yards, the majority of which (29) were Michael Weimer's, who completed two of his four passes late in the game. Evan Jacks finished five-for-nine, with twenty-six yards.
- Ray Smith led the Terriers on the ground, with four carries for 108 yards. Starting quarterback Evan Jacks ran for another eighty-nine yards.
- Ray Smith also had a reception for twenty-four yards, while Will Irwin caught three passes, good for eighteen yards.
- David Marvin had a stellar debut, going two-for-two on his field goals, with the long of fifty-one yards, and four punts for an average of 43.5 yards (174 yards total). Unfortunately, he found himself injured, but the off week will hopefully bring some quality time to heal.
- The defense, though young, made some great plays and quite a few noteworthy stops. In all, they held their own for most of the ballgame.
- Although there were some close calls, no turnovers were committed in the ballgame.
- Both clubs were guilty of five penalties, with Wofford's being for forty-six yards, and Georgia Tech's for fifty.
- The loss marked the Terriers' second-straight loss in a season opener, and fourth-straight loss dating from last season. Wofford has not defeated an FBS opponent since 2000, when they overtook Louisiana-Monroe 24-6.
- My early pick for the game, which I wrote on June 2nd, was Georgia Tech 38, Wofford 14. Closer than I would have expected.
All in all, it was a great experience and huge benefit for the youth of this team. While not a triumph, this game is certainly something for Terrier fans to take pride in.