The Citadel got what it hoped for Saturday against Wofford — a fourth-quarter chance to knock off the No. 5-ranked FCS team in the nation.
But in getting there, the No. 22 Bulldogs asked a little too much of their defense. Despite holding the Terriers' vaunted triple-option offense to less than 100 yards rushing for the first time in 10 years, The Citadel defense finally gave way with just 70 seconds left in the game.
Andre Stoddard's 3-yard touchdown run lifted the unbeaten Terriers to a 20-16 victory before 8,543 fans at Johnson Hagood Stadium.
Wofford has won five games by a total of 16 points this season, lifting the Terriers to 6-0 overall and 4-0 in the SoCon. The Citadel (3-3, 1-3) has dropped three straight for the first time since the first three games of 2014.
This one was hard to stomach for the Bulldogs, who led by 14-7 at the half and by 16-14 with less than two minutes left.
"Our guys are hurting right now," said Citadel coach Brent Thompson. "They wanted this one real bad, as did I. There's nothing we can do about it right now but move on."
For the third straight game, The Citadel offense mustered just 14 points, on touchdown runs of 7 yards by Allen and 2 by Rod Johnson.
But this time, The Citadel defense tacked on a safety — on a tackle of Wofford QB Brandon Goodson in the end zone by Noah Dawkins and Ja'Lon Williams with 8:07 left in the third quarter.
And the Bulldogs nearly made it stand up the rest of the way.
The Citadel got the ball back with 8:10 left in the game and a chance to run out much of the clock. Instead, three straight fullback runs up led to a seventh three-and-out for the Bulldogs' offense, setting up Wofford for its final 13-play, 68-yard drive against an exhausted Citadel defense.
"We just put our defense on the field too much," Allen said, "and they are going to break eventually."
The Citadel sold out to stop the Wofford ground attack, averaging 296 yards per game. The Terriers totaled just 99 rushing yards, their first game under 100 since West Virginia held them to 78 in 2005.
But Wofford QB Goodson made The Citadel pay through the air, hitting 11 of 17 passes for 219 yards and a TD, a 59-yard bomb to Jason Hill to tie it at 14-14 early in the third quarter.
Another busted coverage by The Citadel led to tight end Garrison's Moore 48-yard grab, setting up Goodson's 1-yard TD in the second quarter.
"Once we came to the conclusion that The Citadel was not going to let the fullback beat them, (the pass) was our next option," said Wofford coach Mike Ayers. "And we were good enough to make some big plays."
Aside from two 16-play TD drives, The Citadel offense could produce little — 158 of the Bulldogs' 258 total yards came on those two drives.
"We told our guys we had to be more physical up front in the second half," Ayers said. "We did a little movement that helped us, and the big thing we wanted to do was stop the fullback completely in the second half."
Down 14-7 at the half, Wofford struck quickly to tie the score. As Citadel linebacker Dawkins ran right by him on 3rd and 10, Goodson spun away and then hurled a 59-yard TD bomb to a wide-open Hill. Just 95 seconds into the third quarter, the score was tied at 14-14.
Citadel safety Kailik Williams, hero of the Bulldogs' “Pitch Six” win at Wofford last year, forced another turnover with a hit on Stoddard. Williams recovered the fumble himself at the Wofford 17.
On 3rd and 7, backup Black ran 13 yards to the goal-line, where he lost the ball after a hit from safety Mason Alstatt. Datavious Watson recovered at the 1 for Wofford.
But two plays later, Dawkins and Ja'Lon Williams combined to tackle Goodson in the end zone, the safety giving the Bulldogs a 16-14 lead with 8:07 left in the third quarter.
The Bulldogs survived a 16-yard punt and a 28-yard Wofford pass to the Bulldogs' 25. A false-start penalty and a tackle for loss by linebacker Russell Hubbs on 3rd and 13 forced a 47-yard field goal try that was wide right with 10:38 left in the game.
The Citadel used two 16-play drives, one engineered by each quarterback, and a suffocating rush defense to take a 14-7 lead at the half.
The Bulldogs opened a game with a scoring drive for the first time this season, opening the game with a 16-play, 86-yard drive that Thompson could not have scripted any better.
Slotbacks Cam Jackson and Rod Johnson got to the edge for early runs of 15 and 17 yards, and fullback Brandon Rainey battered his way for two yards on 4th and 1 at the Terriers' 11. Allen scored from 7 yards out for a 7-0 lead at 7:28 of the first quarter.
Wofford, which totaled just 12 rushing yards on its first 13 carries of the half, tied the score at 7-7 thanks to the passing of Goodson. He hit Hill to convert twice on third down. Then on 3rd and 8 from the Bulldogs' 49, tight end Garrison Moore slipped behind The Citadel secondary to catch a 48-yard pass to the 1. Goodson scored from there for a 7-7 tie with 8:24 left in the first half.
But Black, who replaced Allen on the Bulldogs' third series and played for the rest of the half, led a 16-play, 77-yard drive, aided by an unsportsmanlike conduct call on Wofford, to earn back the lead just before halftime.
Black found receiver Josh LeBlanc for 22 yards to the Wofford 1. But on first and goal, Black was jolted by Wofford linebacker Datavious Wilson, the ball popping up into the air and into the arms of slotback Johnson.
On second down, Johnson took a pitch to the right and rode Jackson's block into the end zone for a 2-yard TD and a 14-7 lead with 11 seconds left in the half.