SPARTANBURG, S.C. – On Saturday afternoon, the Wofford College football team earned a 31-21 victory over Mercer at Gibbs Stadium. The Terriers took a 24-7 lead in the third quarter after a blocked punt recovery for touchdown by David Howerton and a field goal by David Marvin, but the Bears battled back in the fourth quarter to make it a close contest.
Wofford moves to 5-3 on the season and 3-2 in the Southern Conference, Mercer is 4-4 and 2-3 in the league. The Terriers were led by Lorenzo Long with 108 rushing yards and two touchdowns, while Brandon Goodson threw for a career-high 112 yards. The Bears were led by John Russ, who was 30-of-45 passing for 271 yards and three touchdowns.
“Another tough game for us today,” said head coach Mike Ayers. “The bottom line was we adapted and did some things to help us in the throwing game which afforded us a chance to come out ahead. Our mentality is always to keep the ball as long as you can and be productive. A lot of the fourth downs we did not make, but it made a tough field position for Mercer and defensively we rose to the occasion. I thought the kids played hard and we were prepared. The big thing was to get them over that loss from last week. The punt block was a game changer for us and it gave us a cushion.”
The Terriers had the ball first and gained one first down before punting. Mercer took over at the two-yard line and gained one first down before a sack on third down forced a punt. The Terriers were stopped on fourth-and-one, giving Mercer the ball at the 46-yard line. After two first downs, including a conversion of a fourth-and-one, John Russ was intercepted by Jaleel Green and Wofford took over at the 26-yard line. The Terriers were unable to move the ball and punted.
The Bears had a first down, but a sack by Terrance Morris and a penalty forced a punt. The snap was dropped and Wofford took over just across midfield. After a couple first downs, Lorenzo Long scored from one yard out to give Wofford a 7-0 lead with 7:36 left in the second quarter. The Bears took advantage of a pass interference call and a personal foul to move deep into Wofford territory. After a sack by JoJo Tillery, a 40-yard field goal attempt by Mercer was wide right and Wofford took over with 3:38 left in the half.
A 60-yard completion by Brandon Goodson to Chandler Gouger moved the ball inside the five-yard line. Lorenzo Long went in from three yards for the touchdown. Wofford had a 14-0 lead with 1:23 on the clock. Mercer moved down the field and scored on a five-yard pass to Chandler Curtis with 12 seconds left remaining in the half. Wofford ran one play before the half ended.
Both teams went three-and-out and punted to open the second half. Mercer added a three-and-out, but the punt was blocked by David Howerton and he recovered the ball in the end zone for a touchdown. Wofford had a 21-7 lead with 11:19 left in the third quarter. On the next possession by the Bears, they had one first down before punting. With the ball back, Wofford had a pair of first downs and a couple of personal foul penalties on Mercer to move inside the 20. David Marvin added a 33-yard field goal for a 24-7 lead at the 4:36 mark of the third quarter.
Mercer had a first down, plus a penalty, and then added a 38-yard reception to move inside the 10. A touchdown catch by Marquise Irvin cut the lead to 24-14 at the 3:42 mark of the third quarter. Wofford got the ball back and moved down the field with passes to R.J. Taylor and Will Gay, and a first down run by Lorenzo Long. On fourth-and-one from the six, the keeper by Brandon Goodson was a couple inches short. Mercer took over, but failed to convert on a fourth-and-one and Wofford took over at the 32-yard line.
After several penalties by the Terriers, a roughing the passer call gave Wofford a first down. A pass to R.J. Taylor picked up a first down and on fourth-and-one from the nine, Lorenzo Long gained just enough for the first down. Chase Nelson scored from one-yard out to give the Terriers a 31-14 lead with 6:39 remaining in the game. Mercer had a couple big pass plays and scored on a 10-yard pass to Marquise Irvin to cut the lead to 31-21 in four plays and 36 seconds. The Bears attempted an on-side kick, but it was recovered by the Terriers. Working with a short field, Wofford had three first downs but were stopped on fourth-and-long. Mercer took over on downs with 1:36 left in the game at the 18-yard line. John Russ was intercepted by Dylan Young and he returned it to the three-yard line. Wofford took a knee twice to end the game.
Wofford had 338 total yards, with 205 rushing. Mercer had 319 total yards, 271 of which were rushing. Mercer had a 20 to 19 advantage in first downs. Wofford was 4-of-13 on third downs and 2-of-5 on fourth downs. Mercer was 7-of-15 on third down and 1-of-3 on fourth down. Mercer was called for eight penalties, while Wofford was whistled ten times. Wofford had a 36:16 to 23:44 time of possession advantage.
Wofford vs. Mercer Post-Game Notes
The Terrier defense has not allowed a 100-yard rusher in a game this season. They allowed only 48 rushing yards by the Bears.
The Terriers have five wins on the season, matching the total from last year (5-6) with three game remaining.
Lorenzo Long had 108 rushing yards. It marked his 14th career 100 yard game and sixth this season. He now has 2,943 career rushing yards to rank 7th in school history.
The interception by Jaleel Green was his second this season and fifth of his career.
The blocked punt for a touchdown was the first touchdown of David Howerton’s career.
Chandler Gouger had a career-high 79 receiving yards.
Game captains were Will Gay, Anton Wahrby, Terrance Morris and Boston Bryant.
Attendance was 6,190 at Gibbs Stadium.
Wofford will be on the road for the next two weeks, first at Furman and then at Chattanooga, before returning home on November 19 against VMI to close out the regular season.