Wofford runs over ETSU for 24-3 win

By Matt Hill

STAR STAFF

   SPARTANBURG S.C. -- The East Tennessee State Buccaneers came into Saturday's game against the Wofford Terriers looking for their fourth straight victory, while this sportswriter needed an ETSU win to stay out of last place on the scoreboard selection panel.
   But on this warm and sunny afternoon in the palmetto state, the Bucs and the sportswriter fell off their lofty perches.
   Wofford totally dominated the visitors in its 24-3 trouncing of the Bucs at Gibbs Stadium.
   "Our kids played hard today," Wofford head coach Mike Ayers said. "It was won up front. I think we got physical up front with them. I thought our front on defense and offense did a great job."
   The stats showed that. Wofford outgained ETSU 322-85 in rushing yards.
   ETSU head coach Paul Hamilton was disappointed with the outcome.
   "It's a tough loss for us," Hamilton said. "Our kids really wanted to win this thing. We wanted to come in here, and try to secure a winning season. It really meant a lot for us to try and win out."
   Wofford's offense started off on the right foot, as the Terriers scored on its first two possessions.
   Wofford closed out a 13 play, 78 yard, first-possession drive on a 1-yard touchdown run by J.R. McNair. That gave the Terriers a 7-0 lead.
   After an ETSU punt, Wofford struck again. Solid rushes by Melvin Jones, Jesse McCoy, and quarterback Travis Wilson put the Terriers at the ETSU 1-yard line.
   Jones took care of business from there with his punch into the end zone to put Wofford ahead 14-0 with 12:47 left in the second quarter.
   The Bucs looked like they were bound to score six late in the half, as the boys from Johnson City had first and goal inside the Terrier 8-yard line.
   However, ETSU couldn't punch it in. After two incomplete passes by Matt Wilhjelm, the former Science Hill standout then found Andrew Nuckolls for a short completion. But it wasn't enough, as the Bucs had to settle for a 21-yard field goal by Con Chellis that made the score 14-3 at the intermission.
   "The times that we do have an opportunity to score, we've got to seize that opportunity," Hamilton said.
   With Wofford up 17-3, the Bucs were facing fourth and one when they decided to go for it. But on the play, tailback Corey Carter was stopped in his tracks by Nathan Fuqua.
   "I felt like we needed to try and get a spark," Hamilton said about going for it. "It seemed like the game was slipping away from us, and as it turned out we didn't make it.
   Wofford couldn't capitalize, as three penalties on the Terriers next drive halted the play.
   But this was still Wofford's day. Backup quarterback Nick Haughey sealed the deal with a 5-yard touchdown scamper to bring the game to its final score of 24-3 with 13:43 left.
   On that scoring drive, the Bucs were called for a personal foul penalty, and also had an unsportsmanlike conduct call go against them.
   Hamilton thought there were some circumstances that caused his players to get frustrated.
   "There were a lot of things said out on that field today that I don't think are real conducive for college football," Hamilton said. "Our kids certainly got frustrated, but there were some things out on the field, and even some things said when we came back to the locker room before halftime that didn't help the situation.
   "But we can't be giving up penalties like we did."
   McNair led all rushers with 85 yards on 14 carries. Jones finished with 76 yards rushing, while McCoy netted 75.
   Wilhjelm led ETSU in rushing, tallying 36 yards on nine carries. Through the air, Wilhjelm went 17-of-32 for 138 yards.
   Wofford improves to 4-6 overall, and 3-3 in Southern Conference play with the win. ETSU falls to 5-5 overall, and 3-3 in the SoCon.
   The Bucs have just a few days to regroup before their season finale at VMI on Thanksgiving Day.
   Hamilton is remaining optimistic.
   "The bottom line is this team still has a chance to finish in the upper half of the Southern Conference, and has a chance to finish with a winning season." Commented Hamilton. "Hopefully, we can go back to work and accomplish that next week."