Saturday, September 13, 2014

Terriers take closer-than-expected win over DII North Greenville

Wofford has kicked off the 2014 home slate at Gibbs Stadium, taking on the Division II North Greenville Crusaders. This is the first meeting between the two schools.

Terriers trail at halftime in delayed, back-and-forth affair

Nick Colvin returned the opening kickoff for twenty-one yards, but the Terriers were unable to execute on their first offensive series, being forced three-and-out.

Following Brian Sanders' 45-yard punt, the Crusaders, spearheaded by Trey Walker, embarked on an 8-play, 70-yard touchdown drive that gave them the early lead. The scoring drive was capped by a 22-yard touchdown strike from Nelson Hughes to Mason Sanders.

However, Wofford was unfazed. Lorenzo Long brought the ensuing kickoff back 25 yards, setting up the Terriers at their own 40 yard line. The home team converted four first downs on the 11-play, 90-yard drive completed by Ray Smith's 22-yard rushing touchdown.

Following Wofford men's soccer player Ben Bruggeworth's strong kickoff for a touchback, North Greenville began to drive again, making their way from their own 25 yard line to the Terrier 18, before Brion Anderson intercepted Nelson Hughes' pass in the end zone, giving Wofford the ball and some much needed momentum.

Evan Jacks, following a false start penalty, launched an impressive 85-yard touchdown strike to Will Irwin, serving as the longest-ever pass in Terrier history, effectively dethroning a 79-yard completion from Bobby Starnes to Jack Whitted against Eastern Kentucky in 1949.

The Crusaders countered with a Hughes-powered 12-play, 62-yard drive that ended in a 33-yard field goal from Justin Gravely, cutting the Terriers' lead to 14-10.

Following this drive, there were reports of lightning strikes in the area, leading our game into a 45-minute delay.

Wofford, upon retaking the field, drove the ball from their own 18 yard line all the way to the opposing 18 (a span in which they converted for five first downs), before being mired by both an offensive pass interference penalty and a false start, bringing them to a fourth-and-eight situation. Evan Jacks came up two yards short on the ensuing play, giving the ball up on downs.

North Greenville took advantage of their next opportunity, driving 81 yards in 7 plays (including a 39-yard touchdown pass from Hughes to Robbie Brown) to put the score in their favor at 17-14.

Wofford began to drive, converting for three first downs, before running out of time. The final play was a 'Hail Mary' attempt that was picked off by Tony Godbolt.

Both clubs have picked up thirteen first downs, while the Terriers are 2-4 on third down conversions (0-1 on fourth down conversion), and the Crusaders stand at 5-7 on third down conversions, with the same mark on fourth down conversions.

North Greenville has outgained the Terriers, 290 yards to 232. Wofford has racked up 117 rushing yards and 115 passing yards (that's a very close comparison), while the Crusaders showed their pass-heavy tendencies, putting up 235 yards through the air, compared to just 55 rushing yards.

Evan Jacks is 6-for-9, with all 115 yards and one passing touchdown, and one interception thrown. Jacks added an extra ten yards on the ground.

Ray Smith had five carries for 47 yards and a touchdown, leading the team.

Will Irwin has two receptions for 89 yards, while Nick Colvin, Zach Muller, Wade Francis, and Paul Nelson all caught a single pass.

Michael Sarifianos is 2-for-2 on his extra points, the first of which was the first of his collegiate career. Brian Sanders kicked a lone punt that went for 45 yards.

The Terriers have some work to do in the second half to get the game's momentum and ultimately, the scoreboard back in their favor.

Wofford pulls away in bizarre, lengthily-delayed second half

North Greenville got the ball to open the second half, but their drive was cut short by a Drake Michaelson interception at the Crusader 29 yard line that was returned all the way to the ten. 

Following a Crusader unsportsmanlike conduct penalty, the Terriers and Will Irwin punched it in three plays later to give Wofford a 21-14 lead.

The Crusaders then drove 56 yards in nine plays, adding an odd 40-yard field goal from Justin Gravely to cut the deficit to one point, 21-20.

Around this time, a second lightning delay ensued, one that lasted well over an hour. Something good must have been preached to the Terriers during this lull, because they seemed almost like a new team when they came back onto the field.

Wofford continued a 10-play, 81-yard drive that was quickly capitalized on with a series of Lorenzo Long runs, including one from four yards out to give the Terriers some breathing room at 28-20.

The Terrier defense then forced the Crusaders to punt, and Wofford again took control, orchestrating a 71-yard drive that was capped off by yet another Lorenzo Long score.

North Greenville began to drive once again, but this time, it was stopped in its tracks due to Nelson Hughes' fumble, one that was recovered by Wofford's Tyler Vaughn.

In two plays (23 yards, 4 yards), Lorenzo Long gave the Terriers a 42-20 advantage.

The next Crusader drive, in which eight of its ten plays were completions from Nathan Hughes, went 66 yards and was completed by a one-yard run from the junior quarterback.

Michael Weimer saw some playing time during the Terriers' next and final offensive series, and he also performed the quick-kick that happened to coincide with the lights going out at Gibbs Stadium.

The game was called with 1:38 on the clock, and the Terriers advanced to 1-1, a record that both teams stand at right now.

Here's a look at some additional points of interest:
  • Wofford outgained the Crusaders, 452 yards to 447 yards. The Terriers made up for the closeness of passing and rushing yards at halftime by pulling away in the second half, racking up 337 rushing yards and 115 yards through the air. On the other hand, North Greenville amassed 370 passing yards and only 77 yards on the ground.
  • The Terriers converted for 24 first downs on the night, while the Crusaders posted 21. Wofford was 4-7 on third down conversions, while North Greenville was 8-15. Both teams were 0-1 on fourth down conversions.
  • North Greenville was called for ten penalties, costing them 90 yards, whileWofford registered six penalties at a cost of 55 yards.
  • Wofford only committed a single turnover, an errant interception thrown by Evan Jacks on the 'Hail Mary' pass thrown at the conclusion of the first half. The Crusaders, on the other hand, committed three.
  • North Greenville had the edge in time of possession with 30:21, in comparison to Wofford's 29:39.
  • Evan Jacks finished his night 6-for-9, throwing for 115 yards (12.8 average), with a touchdown and an interception thrown.
  • Lorenzo Long was the story of the post-delay second half, rushing for 138 yards on 15 carries, averaging 9.2 yards a carry. Long punched in three touchdowns. Ray Smith rushed for 56 yards and a touchdown on seven carries, and Evan Jacks himself kept it 13 times for 53 yards total.
  • Will Irwin had a pair of receptions, good for 89 yards and one touchdown. Nick Colvin, Zach Muller, Wade Francis, and Paul Nelson all caught one pass.
  • Both Drake Michaelson and Brion Anderson caught an interception for the Terriers.
  • Michael Sarafianos was 6-for-6 on his point after attempts. Wofford did not attempt a field goal tonight.
  • Brian Sanders punted once for 45 yards, and Michael Weimer recorded the quick-kick, which went for 26 yards. North Greenville only punted once in the game.
  • Wofford has now won fourteen straight home openers, and leads the series against North Greenville 1-0.
  • With the win, Wofford snapped the longest losing streak of Mike Ayers' Wofford career, which dated back from last season.
Next Saturday, September 20th, the Terriers will travel to Boiling Springs, N.C. to take on the Gardner-Webb Runnin' Bulldogs of the Big South. Wofford will look to avenge a 3-0 rain-soaked loss last season, and continue to prepare for the looming SoCon schedule ahead.

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