Sunday, November 9, 2014

Terriers searching for solace, strong finish in final games with Furman, Mercer

Last year at this point in the season, the Terriers still had a chance to make the playoffs. We aren't going to enjoy any postseason play this season, but we certainly aren't going to let a chance for a surprisingly excellent campaign slip away, the same way we let opportunities and momentum pass us by in yesterday afternoon's dropped decision to Chattanooga, who will keep rolling into the playoffs.

Next Saturday, Wofford will make the short trip to Greenville, S.C., where they will encounter Furman at Paladin Stadium. If there's anything we know about road games, especially those in Greenville, it would have to be the fact that they make pulling out a Terrier victory just that much tougher. Like the installment with Chattanooga yesterday afternoon, this will be the Terriers' second-straight year with a trip to Furman.

The Paladins, led by head coach Bruce Fowler, have dropped eight consecutive contests, including SoCon matchups with Western Carolina (35-17), Samford (45-0), VMI (31-15), and yesterday's opponent, The Citadel (42-35). Assailed with a bevy of injuries, Furman has been outscored 281-160 this season. However, they still manage to put up healthy averages of 133 rushing yards and 188 passing yards per game.

After the matchup with Wofford, the Paladins will stay home to host none other than Chattanooga, serving as the last barrier to a perfect SoCon mark for the Mocs. The contest with Wofford marks the 125th anniversary of the first intercollegiate football game in South Carolina, a 5-1 Wofford victory in 1889. 

The Terriers, on the other hand, will have the opportunity to host new SoCon member Mercer at Gibbs Stadium. Mercer, coached by longtime SoCon leader Bobby Lamb, has managed only a single conference triumph, a 27-24 victory over VMI. The Bears, who had an open date this weekend, are currently in the midst of a three-game losing streak, last dropping a two-point decision to The Citadel.

They played Chattanooga very tough, though, and had opportunities to make it go the other way late in the game, which ended 38-31 in the Mocs' favor. With a solid team, the Bears average 209.4 rushing yards and 209.5 passing yards per game. Against SoCon opponents, though, they average 48 less yards per game, and substantially less success in other categories.

Both of these teams will, despite any connotations tagged onto them from this season, prove to be tough, formidable opponents for the Terriers. "We're in a growth process," Mike Ayers said to the media prior to the loss at Chattanooga. "But we've made progress."

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