SPARTANBURG, S.C. – The Wofford College football team opened the season with a 24-23 win over Furman on Saturday night at Gibbs Stadium. The Terriers were down entering the fourth quarter, but a pair of touchdowns gave Wofford a 24-17 lead. Furman scored with 46 seconds remaining, but the two point conversion attempt was intercepted and Wofford held on for the victory.
Wofford opens the season 1-0 overall and in the Southern Conference, while the Paladins are 0-1 to being the year. The Terriers were led by Lennox McAfee with 67 rushing yards and a touchdown, while Andre Stoddard had 64 rushing yards and a touchdown. Blake Morgan added 64 yards and Chase Nelson had 53 yards and a touchdown. Brandon Goodson was 8-of-11 passing. The Paladins were led by Thomas Gordon with five catches for 107 yards, while P.J. Blazejowski was 13-of-24 passing for 224 yards.
“Anytime you play Furman you have to work at it to have a chance,” said head coach Mike Ayers. “I thought they were well prepared and I thought we were well prepared. It was two teams that were very similar. They did some things to stretch us defensively and caused some problems for us. The best thing about the whole game was that even though we were down, we fought back even after we turned the ball over. They went for two and I would have done the same thing. We made the play. Sometimes it comes down to one more play. In this case we were the ones that made it.”
The Terriers had the ball to open the game. After two first downs and a conversion of a fourth-and-two, Andre Stoddard scored from 16-yards out for a 7-0 lead at the 9:33 mark. On the first drive of the game by the Paladins, a 31-yard reception by Darius Morehead set-up a 20-yard field goal to make it a 7-3 game at 4:24 in the first quarter. With the ball back, the Terriers were slowed by penalties, including an intentional grounding call. Luke Carter made a 44-yard field goal in his first career attempt to give Wofford a 10-3 lead at the 12:27 mark of the second quarter.
Furman had a pair of passing first downs to move across midfield. A 30-yard reception by Thomas Gordon gave the Paladins first down at the five. Antonio Wilcox capped the drive with a two-yard touchdown to tie the game at 10-10 with 8:04 left in the second quarter. After a Wofford three-and-out, Furman began on the Terriers 46-yard line. A holding penalty negated a touchdown and then a 33-yard field goal was wide right. The Terriers took over with 2:46 left in the first half. Penalties again prevented the Wofford offense from gaining ground and a three-and-out forced a punt with ninety seconds remaining in the half. The Terriers forced a three-and-out and took over with 33 second on the clock. One play ran out the first half with the score tied at 10.
On the opening drive of the second half, Furman went 75 yards in eight plays and scored on a four yard run by P.J. Blazejowski. With 11:55 on the clock in the third quarter, the Paladins had a 17-10 lead. Wofford went three-and-out and punted on the ensuing drive. Furman then had one first down before punting back to the Terriers. Wofford gained three first downs before having to punt.
After a Furman three-and-out, Wofford had a first down on a pass interference call. Following another first down, the Terriers were faced with a fourth-and-one. Lennox McAfee scored from 15 yards out to tie the game at 17 with 13:53 left in the fourth quarter. Furman had one first down before punting. Wofford had four first downs and had the ball inside the 20-yard line when Chase Nelson fumbled and the ball was recovered by the Paladins at the 10-yard line.
The Wofford defense forced a three-and-out. After the punt, the Terriers took over at the Paladin’s 43-yard line. A reception by R.J. Taylor and run by Blake Morgan moved Wofford inside the 20-yard line. A run by Lennox McAfee gave the Terriers first and goal at the two. A one-yard touchdown by Chase Nelson with 2:46 remaining gave Wofford a 24-17 lead. Furman had two first downs before Triston Luke went down the far sideline for a 44-yard touchdown. The two point conversion attempt was intercepted by Malik Rivera and Wofford had a 24-23 lead with 46 seconds remaining. The Terriers ran two plays to run out the clock on the victory.
Wofford had 357 total yards, with 276 rushing. Furman had 383 total yards, 224 of which were rushing. Wofford had a 21 to 18 advantage in first downs. Wofford was 3-of-10 on third downs and 2-of-2 on fourth downs. Furman was 4-of-11 on third down. Furman was called for two penalties, while Wofford was whistled seven times. Wofford had a 35:41 to 24:19 time of possession advantage.
Wofford vs. Furman Post-Game Notes
With the win, Wofford has won the last 17 home openers at Gibbs Stadium. The last home opening loss came in 2000. When opening the season at home, the Terriers are now 25-20-1.
The Terriers have won the last eight Southern Conference openers, dating back to a win over Furman in 2010.
Wofford trails Furman 53-31-7 in a series that began in 1889. With the win, the Terriers have won three straight for the first time since 1969, 1970, and 1971 (part of a six game win streak).
There were no significant injuries in the contest for the Terriers.
Luke Carter made his first career field goal attempt from 44 yards and added three extra points.
Malik Rivera led the team with 10 tackles.
Game captains were Brandon Goodson, Ross Demmel, Malik Rivera and Tyler Vaughn.
Attendance was 7,237 at Gibbs Stadium.
Wofford will be on the road next week at Mercer. Following an open week, the Terriers will host Gardner-Webb on September 23.