CSU Fights Hard But Falls 41-23 at #13 WoffordSeptember 6, 2008
By CSU Sports Information
SPARTANBURG, S.C. – A late Wofford score iced a back-and-forth contest, as the Terriers took down Charleston Southern 41-23 at Gibbs Stadium, Saturday night. The game, originally scheduled for a 1:30 p.m. kickoff at CSU, was moved to Wofford to avoid weather concerns with Hurricane Hanna.
The Charleston Southern (0-2) offense gained more than 300 yard of total offense, and CSU held a number of leads in the game, but eventually the wing bone offense of Wofford (2-0) proved too much.
“I thought our guys competed extremely hard tonight,” said CSU Head Coach Jay Mills. “I was very proud of the way they adapted and adjusted through a hectic week. It was a difficult week, but at the same time that isn’t an excuse for coming up on the short end. We played an extremely good football team. I am encouraged by the character, discipline and toughness of our team and the way they competed.”
Tribble Reese finished the game 30-46 passing with just one interception as he forced a pass in the last few moments of the game. His 46 pass attempts ties him for sixth all-time at CSU, while 30 completions ranks tied for third. Reese threw to 10 different receivers as he accounted for 250 yards and one touchdown. Gerald Stevenson and Tim Jones were the favorite targets, each gathering in five receptions, for 33 and 28 yards, respectively, while Markus Murry had four receptions for a team-high 66 yards.
Antwan Ivey got the bulk of the carries, taking 20 rushes for a total of 58 yards and a touchdown. Defensively, it was Josh Warrior who led the way with nine tackles, while Jacques Bazile had eight stops.
Special teams proved to play a huge role in the game, with John Paglia hitting three field goals, one shy of the single-game school record, while hitting one from a school record-tying 48-yards. Stevenson had seven kick returns for 255 yards, averaging 36 yards per return.
On the other side, it was Wofford’s rushing attack that gained 434 yards on the ground with eight different ball carriers throughout the game. Ben Widmeyer, the starting quarterback, attempted just three passes, completing them all including a 38-yard touchdown strike.
The Charleston Southern offense was clicking early as they amassed 100 yards in the first quarter alone, controlling the ball for more than 10 minutes in the quarter.
After a terrific 47-yard return by Stevenson on the opening kickoff, the CSU offense used nine plays to march 44 yards in a drive that culminated in a six-yard touchdown pass to Jones.
The Buccaneer defense held onto the momentum forcing a punt midway through the first quarter to get the ball back for the offensive unit.
They knew what to do with it as the drove down into Wofford territory, helped in large part by a 16- and 11-yard pass from Reese to Brown. The second drive of the game set up a school record-tying 48-yard field goal by John Paglia to put CSU up 10-0 early.
Wofford scored for the first time on a quick, three-play drive in which the Terriers went 94 yards. Eric Breitenstein broke loose for a 46-yard run, and on the next play, Widmeyer went up top for a 38-yard touchdown strike to Andy Strickland. After the Patrick Mugan kick failed, CSU held onto the 10-6 advantage.
Another field goal was all that CSU could put on the scoreboard in the second half as they did soon the first drive of the second quarter, putting them up 13-6. With more ball control, CSU moved 46 yards on a 14-play, seven-minute drive, resulting in the 35-yard field goal by Paglia.
Special teams led to both of the final scores of the half by Wofford as a 67-yard return on the ensuing kickoff led to a game-tying touchdown on a three-yard rush by Michael Scott.
Looking to punt it away at the end of the half, a bad snap led to a very short punt by Andy Brown, setting Wofford up on the CSU 36-yardline with time winding down. As the clock hit 0:00, Mugan hit the 22-yard field goal to take a 16-13 lead into the halftime break.
“I think that we came to win and we really believed that we had a strong opportunity to win, and you can’t make mistakes against a top-15 ranked team, and a team with the tradition of Wofford. We made a couple of mistakes and they capitalized on those mistakes, and that may have been the difference in the ball game. We have made fewer mistakes early in the season than probably any year since I’ve been here. With that, we’ve seen a real maturity out of our team.”
A holding call brought back a Wofford touchdown on their first drive of the second half, and as the defense stiffened and forced a 38-yard field goal by Mugan putting the Terriers up 19-13.
CSU answered with a pair of third-down passes to tight end Tyrese Harris set up CSU first and goal on the eight yardline. It took just two carries for Ivey to get the ball in the endzone, and as Paglia hit the extra point, CSU took the lead back 20-19 with 4:57 left in the third.
One play resulted in the Wofford answer as Strickland went 71-yards on the reverse to take the lead right back at 25-20. Out of a split-formation for the extra point, the ball was flipped back to the kicker Mugan who hit the corner of the endzone for the two-point conversion, making it 27-20.
On the first play of the fourth quarter, replacement quarterback Mitch Allen ran the option up the middle for a 29-yard touchdown to give Wofford their largest lead of the game at 34-20.
Another outstanding return by Stevenson, this one going for 61 yards, set up CSU in good field position again, and they were able to convert with a 34-yard field goal by Paglia, his third field goal of the game.
It was Wofford that had the answer once again with a 54-yard kickoff return by Rucker, and a 25-yard rush up the middle by Allen. The Terriers were unable to convert on a fourth-and-goal, though, as Allen was stopped short of the goal line by Kamalu Umu.
Driving with under five minutes to go, a fumbled snap on a third-and-short forced a long throw on fourth down. As the wide receiver slipped down just shy of the ball, the hopes for a CSU upset seemed to go away as Wofford took over on downs.
A couple of first down runs allowed Wofford to milk the clock all the way down to end the game. They chose not to as Allen once again found the endzone on a long run to push the lead out to 41-23 with just :36 left in the game.
CSU will stay on the road as they face their second FBS school of the season, going to play Miami (Ohio), who is 0-2 on the season as well after playing Vanderbilt and Michigan in their first two games of the season.Related Item: Box Score