Wofford holds off Citadel rally for 24-21 victory
SPARTANBURG – Wofford games begin with the stern-faced image of coach Mike Ayers staring down from the 22-foot high videoboard behind the north end zone at Gibbs Stadium.
“This is Wofford football!” Ayers intones as his players take the field.
The Terriers played just enough Wofford football on Saturday to end The Citadel’s slim hopes for a share of the Southern Conference title, gutting out a 24-21 victory before 9,658 fans.
Wofford’s 14th straight victory over The Citadel put the Bulldogs at 4-4 overall and 3-3 in the SoCon. Since a 3-0 start that included wins over FCS top 10 teams Georgia Southern and Applachian State, the Bulldogs have lost four of five.
The Terriers, ranked eighth in FCS, are 7-1 overall and 5-1 in the SoCon, and can clinch at least a share of the league title with wins over Samford and Chattanooga before their season-ender at South Carolina.
Down 24-7 at the half, the Bulldogs climbed to within 24-21 early in the fourth quarter.
The Citadel stopped Wofford on fourth down and Darien Robinson popped a 44-yard TD run to cut the lead to 24-14 midway through the third quarter.
The defense forced a Wofford punt, and Citadel quarterback Ben Dupree turned in two key plays to get the Bulldogs back in it. On third down, Dupree looked like he was down, but he rolled over the would-be tackler and sprinted to the Wofford 41 for a first down.
Three plays later, Dupree scrambled for 15 yards, setting up slotback Van Dyke Jones for a 5-yard TD that cut the lead to 24-21 with 14:54 to play.
The Bulldogs got the ball back thrice more, but couldn’t advance past their own 46, forced to punt twice.
The Citadel began the day in impressive style, driving 75 yards for a touchdown on its first series. Dupree hit a wide-open Domonic Jones for a 23-yard TD on a post route, recalling the Bulldogs’ alarmingly easy first drive in their 52-28 rout of App State.
Unlike the ill-prepared Mountaineers, Wofford would have none of it.
Halfback Brian Youman ripped off a 41-yard run on the Terriers’ first play, and Breitenstein scored from eight yards on on the fifth to tie the score at 7-7.
The Terriers would score 24 straight points for a 24-7 halftime lead, getting a 13-yard TD run from reserve Will Gay and a 4-yarder from Breitenstein. Just before the half, Wofford recovered a Citadel fumble on a kickoff return, and Kasey Redfern nudged a 42-yard field goal just over the crossbar at the buzzer for 24-7.