Defense rocked against Wofford’s running game

                                                                                                                                                                                Photo by: Tony Marable

In most games, putting up 444 rushing yards on any opponent is usually enough to earn a win.

For the hosting Wofford College Terriers, 444 was more than enough to maintain control of the line of scrimmage and lead, as the Golden Eagles fell 34-14 Saturday night in Spartanburg, South Carolina.

Coming off a promising performance in a 52-24 loss at Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) Houston University the week before, which featured 341 total yards of offense, Tech kept the Terriers on their toes early in the first half. Forcing a 4th-and-5, redshirt freshman defensive end Brady Bose recovered a Wofford fumble, giving the Golden Eagles’ offense the ball near midfield. Fourteen plays, 45 yards and 4:46 later, junior quarterback Jared Davis punched the ball in the end zone at the goal line, giving the guests the initial 7-0 lead after the John Arnold PAT.

The Terriers’ run game immediately picked up on the following drive, though, as it began to create room for the backs to attack Tech’s defense and keep them honest for the duration of play. Running back Lorenzo Long kick-started the ground game, gaining carries of four and 16 yards. After a 14 and 21-yard run from Wofford’s Ray Smith and Will Gay respectively, Long answered Davis’ touchdown with a 3-yard goal line score of his own, which tied the game after the successful PAT.

From then on, things got out of hand for the visiting Cookeville team. Wofford took the lead in the second quarter, adding 10 points on a rushing score and field goal, giving the Terriers a 17-7 lead at the half.

After the break, the hosts piled on 17 more, stretching the lead to 27 after 34 unanswered points.

Davis added another short-yard score late in the fourth quarter, but the Terriers grinded the Golden Eagles for too long, controlling the clock for a ball-hogging 37 minutes in the contest, as they were able to play keep-away until the final score.

Wofford collected 560 yards of offense on the night to Tech’s 274, but the difference in the game was the Terriers’ 444 rushing yards and 27 first-down runs on a toppling 72 tries.

Davis finished the night 21-of-35 for 163 yards and an interception, finding his favorite target, last week’s OVC Offensive Player of the Week Brock McCoin, for 99 yards on 11 catches. Senior RB Ladarius Vanlier led the Tech backfield with 80 yards on 10 carries, along with Davis’ 27 yards and two TDs.

The Golden Eagles return to action Saturday, as they host the Mercer Bears (2-0) for the first home game of the season at Tucker Stadium in a 6 p.m. start.