Saturday, October 4, 2014

Wofford holds The Citadel in lengthy SoCon-schedule opening battle, 17-13

On a sunny fall afternoon at Gibbs Stadium, Wofford opened their 2014 SoCon schedule against The Citadel. The Terriers have not lost to the Bulldogs since 1998; they are seeking their sixteenth consecutive triumph over the squad from Charleston, S.C.

Wofford holds 10-6 advantage at the half in heated, lengthy battle with The Citadel

The Citadel started things off with a promising drive, making four first downs and traversing 36 yards before being served a fourth-and-sixteen at the Wofford 26-yard line. Aaron Miller's pass fell incomplete in the end zone, causing the Bulldogs to give up the ball on downs.

Evan Jacks began Wofford's first offensive series on a high note, with a 33 yard run that effectively put the Terriers into Bulldog territory. Following a few short rushing plays, Will Gay came up big for Wofford, easily converting a fourth-and-2 with an 18 yard scamper into the red zone. Five snaps later, Jacks found himself in the endzone on a sneak play that capped off a 10-play, 74-yard drive. David Marvin's extra point attempt was good, giving the grateful Terriers an early 7-0 lead.

The Citadel was forced three-and-out on their next series, but the Bulldogs nearly recovered Paul Nelson's botched kickoff catch.

It didn't matter, though, as the players in white jerseys recovered the ball from Lorenzo Long's fumble on the very next play.

The Bulldogs utilized that field position with a 28-yard field goal from Eric Goins, one that cut the Terriers' lead to 7-3.

It was the Terriers' ensuing possession that became a marathon drive; Wofford strung together twenty plays, including two fourth-down conversions, and went 74 yards down the field to The Citadel 12-yard line, where David Marvin booted a 29-yard field goal that put the Terriers up 10-3.

The Citadel responded with their own kind of long drive, mainly powered by Isiaha Smith's short rushes, that went 44 yards in 10 plays, yielding the same result as Wofford's previous series. Eric Goins kicked a 35-yard field goal with only a few seconds remaining.

This is where we stand at the half; in this heated, lenghty battle of two triple-option teams, Wofford holds the four-point advantage.

Wofford has outgained The Citadel on the ground 154 yards to 83 yards; The Citadel has accumulated 40 passing yards, while the Terriers have not attempted a pass.

Terriers hold on in wild ride of a second half

Following a three-and-out on their opening possession of the second half, Wofford punted the ball away to Aaron Miller and The Citadel, who orchestrated an 8-play, 51-yard drive that effectively put all the momentum in the visiting team's favor, while giving them a 13-10 lead, their first of the afternoon.

Wofford looked to regain some of that lost momentum, and in fact did, stringing together a heady 47-yard sprint from Evan Jacks with several strong Lorenzo Long rushes, bringing the ball all the way down to The Citadel 4-yard line.

Instead of punching the ball in for a touchdown, though, Long instead had the ball ripped from him on the next play; the Bulldogs had stolen back the momentum with a forced fumble and subsequent recovery by Mark Thomas at their own 3-yard line.

The Bulldogs got as far as the 25-yard line before Wofford's defense kicked in and came up with the first of a series of big stops, forcing Will Vanvick to punt it away.

Evan Jacks, like the Wofford defense, was not ready to concede to The Citadel.

Jacks and Will Irwin, who logged an impressive 28 yard scamper that brought the Terriers into Bulldog territory, helped power a 6-play, 74-yard drive that climaxed in Jacks' running 25 yards into the endzone, untouched.

After another Bulldog drive (and a Terrance Morris sack for a loss of eight yards) found them mired in their own territory and forced The Citadel to again punt, Wofford looked to again be gathering momentum.

The Terriers drove into The Citadel's side of the field once again, but at the Bulldog 24-yard line, Evan Jacks coughed up the football, making for Wofford's third turnover of the game.

The Citadel's next series, which was being rushed on by the ever-growing presence of the clock, saw an abrupt end on fourth-and-two at the Wofford 31-yard line, where Isiaha Smith came up a yard shy of the marker.

Wofford quickly gave the football back; after being forced three-and-out, Brian Sanders sent out a 40-yard punt that saw little back from The Citadel's special teams unit.

It was at this time when the final drive of the game saw its beginning; what unfolded in the next two minutes and forty-five seconds would decide whether or not Wofford would clinch their sixteenth-straight win over The Citadel, and attain a 1-0 SoCon record in the process.

The Citadel drove from away from their own 35-yard line rather quickly. Aaron Miller completed five consecutive passes and led the Bulldogs into Wofford territory; then, however, things began to get sketchy at the Terrier 31-yard line.

After converting on a fourth-and-four, The Citadel kept their hopes for a drought-ending victory with two back-to-back eleven yard completions, from Miller to Brandon Eakins and Vinny Miller, respectively. The latter pass brought them to Terrier 3-yard line.

With the clock winding down, Miller launched three incompletions before finding himself and the Bulldogs in a huge situation: with only one second remaining, The Citadel was a mere three yards from glory.

That glory? It proved to be about a half-yard too far.

Yes, the Terrier defense stopped Miller around the half-yard line to put an eventful and brisk 17-13 victory over The Citadel in the books.

Here's a look at some additional points of interest:

  • Wofford outgained The Citadel. 332-296. The Terriers gained 314 yards on the ground, and only 18 through the air attack. The Bulldogs had 199 rushing yards and 97 passing yards.
  • Wofford gained 17 first downs, was 4-for-12 on third down conversions, and a perfect 4-for-4 on fourth down tries.
  • The Terriers averaged 5.6 yards per rush (56 attempts), and six yards per pass (Jacks was 3-for-3).
  • Wofford was only called for a single ten-yard penalty, while The Citadel was flagged for three, costing them 24 yards.
  • The Terriers' three lost fumbles were the only turnovers of the game, for both sides.
  • The Citadel won the time of possession battle, 31:08-28:52.
  • Evan Jacks had the first 100-yard rushing game of his collegiate career, amassing 141 yards on 22 carries. Lorenzo Long gained 84 yards on 23 carries, while Will Gay had a big 53 yards on just four carries.
  • Evan Jacks' three passes were caught by Will Irwin (2, 16 yards) and Wade Francis (1, 2 yards).
  • Cam Flowers returned a pair of kickoffs for 39 yards, while Nick Colvin logged a single return that was good for 17 yards.
  • Paul Nelson only picked up three yards on his two attempts at returning punts.
  • David Marvin kicked a 29-yard field goal, and was a perfect 2-for-2 on his point after attempts.
  • Brian Sanders booted two punts for 65 yards total (32.5 average).
  • The relatively young linebackers of Wofford will be some breakout players to watch this season, as will defensive lineman Steven Cornellier, who's already made some big plays in 2014.
  • Wofford advances to 3-2, with a 1-0 SoCon record after the victory. The Terriers have notched sixteen consecutive triumphs over The Citadel.
Next Saturday, the Terriers will make the trip to Cullowhee, N.C., to encounter the Western Carolina Catamounts (3-2, 1-0 SoCon), who fell to Big South opponent Presbyterian this afternoon, 19-14.

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