Turnovers Costly In 52-24 Road Loss to WoffordSeptember 8, 2007
By CSU Sports Information
|Linebacker Jada Ross|
SPARTANBURG, S.C. – Charleston Southern turned the ball over five times, and allowed a kickoff return for a touchdown as they fell 52-24 to 14th-ranked Wofford, Saturday night at Gibbs Stadium. It was the second-straight game on the road at a Southern Conference opponent for the Bucs as they start the season 0-2, with Wofford moving to 2-0 to start the season.
“We can’t hope to compete and win against a good team like Wofford if you make the errors that we did,” said Head Coach Jay Mills. “We made major mistakes in all three facets of the game. We knew we were playing a good team and had to play error-free ball, and just didn’t do that.”
In his second start of his career, Eli Byrd completed 28 of 46 passes for 264 yards and two touchdowns, but more importantly, threw three interceptions. Dee Brown was the leading receiver for CSU with 13 receptions, just missing the century mark with 95 yards. Wofford amassed 317 yards on the ground in the victory, but spread it out between 12 different rushers. Defensively it was Jada Ross leading the charge for the second-straight game with 11 tackles. Ross was the lone defenseman to reach double figures, as Josh Warrior and Matt Bach each tallied eight takedowns for CSU. Gary Blount had six stops to lead the Terriors.
After falling behind quickly, a 37-yard pass from Byrd to Vernon Huger ignited the CSU offense as they put together an 11-play, 75-yard drive to tie the score at 7-7.
The momentum was short lived, though, as Mike Rucker returned the ensuing kickoff 89 yards to put Wofford back on top, 14-7.
Faced with a third-and-long, Byrd’s pass across the middle was picked off by Gary Blount as time ran out in the first quarter. The interception set up a two-play, 30-yard drive for Wofford, putting them up 21-7 just moments into the second quarter.
CSU cut into the lead with 7:40 left in the half as a special teams miscue led to CSU points. A Nick Ellis punt bounced off the leg of a Wofford cover man and CSU recovered on the 10 yardline. It only took CSU one play on a roll-out pass to Tim Jones as CSU found the endzone to make it 28-14.
On the ensuing Wofford drive, a 14-yard sack by James Jenkins and a pair of penalties on the Terriers forced a third-and-long and eventually a punt. The Wofford punt backed the Bucs up to their own 12 yardline. On the first play from scrimmage, Byrd threw his second interception of the game, and the Terriers were able to capitalize on it to make it 35-14 with 4:16 remaining in the half.
With one chance remaining in the half, the Bucs capitalized a third-and-one inside the five, setting up a touchdown pass to Vernon Huger to cut the lead to 35-21. A desperation heave with time expiring ended in an interception by Philip Ashley in the endzone, bringing the half to a close.
Despite the score, the Bucs held a 228-214 advantage in total offense, including a 189-57 edge through the air at the break.
“I was pleased with the improvement from last week, but we aren’t playing with any consistency,” said Mills. “I’m happy with the character of this group and the desire to be successful. We will be successful, we just have to stop shooting ourselves in the foot.”
The defense stepped up to start the second half as they gave the ball back to Byrd and the offense with a big fourth-down spot. After the drive stalled, the Bucs drew a personal foul penalty against Wofford to keep the drive alive, moving the ball to midfield.
The drive resulted in the first field goal attempt of the season as Ellis connected on a 34-yard attempt as CSU made it a 35-24 game.
Another fourth down stop by the defense gave CSU hope of further cutting into the lead after having scored 10 unanswered points. The hopes were dashed as a third-and-long pass turned into the third interception of the day by Byrd.
A solid goal-line stand by the defense forced a 20-yard field goal attempt by Patrick Mugan that put Wofford back on top by two touchdowns.
With under 10 minutes to go, the Bucs pulled out all the stops trying to climb back, but a halfback pass from Kenny Harper came up short and was picked off by Mychael Johnson. From there, it took just three plays for Wofford to capitalize on the fourth CSU interception of the game, putting the game all but out of reach at 45-24.
For the second-straight week, the Bucs surrendered a touchdown in the final minute, with the Terriors putting the ball in the endzone with just :40 left in the game to give the final score of 52-24.
“This team is in the process of becoming, and we know the end result. We will be outstanding, but we have to get there, and to do so we will have to learn from our errors,” said Mills. “Our mistakes don’t become failures until we don’t learn and continue to make the same mistakes. I am confident that Eli and the team will learn from our mistakes and move forward and we are optimistic about the future.”
The future comes next week as the Bucs go home for the first time this year, taking on Johnson C. Smith in a 1:30 kickoff. Related Item: Box Score