Terriers top Bucs to clinch SoCon title

By Seth Bartee
STAR Correspondent

   SPARTANBURG, S.C.--ETSU and Wofford played on an overcast day Saturday at Gibbs Stadium. But one team's fortunes ended in sunshine, and other team's is just ending.
   Wofford (9-1, 7-0) defeated ETSU (3-7, 0-6) 28-14 in a game in which No. 5 Wofford clinched the Southern Conference crown, and became just the seventh team in Wofford's 114-year history to win nine games.
   Wofford, which head coach Mike Ayers hopes people will learn to pronounce correctly now, was only picked to be fifth in the SoCon this season. By the end of the day, Wofford College had its first ever championship in any SoCon sporting event.
   The Terriers outlasted the Bucs and again opened up the game in the third quarter by scoring a touchdown on an Trey Rodgers 3-yard rush to put them up 21-7. They then added another seven with a Kevious Johnson 10-yard run.
   "We finally won," yelled Wofford players after the game. "We Are The Champions" was song playing on the field and Coach Mike Ayers was humble despite his team's dominance in the SoCon this season.
   "It's great to lose 20 players and then have players step up to take their place," said Ayers. "ETSU did a great job offensively today. They know us better than any other team besides Air Force."
   Coach Hamilton brought Carl Meadows in the second half. Meadows went 12 for 18 with 113 yards and one interception. He helped the Bucs score in the fourth quarter on a 12-play, 81-yard drive that saw the Bucs finish the game 28-14.
   "I wanted to give Carl the chance because he has a good arm," said Hamilton. "We do not know who will be starting next week. We will just have to see what Chattanooga looks like."
   Michael George, who started Saturday's game, was 3 for 7 with 35 yards passing, and had 52 yards rushing with one rushing touchdown.
   "I feel I have a little piece in this championship," said Hamilton referring to his time as an assistant coach at Wofford in the late '80s.
   He keeps on championing his team despite 12 straight SoCon losses.
   "I have been apart of a lot of wins against teams like BYU and Ohio State," Hamilton said. "But I have never been as proud of a team as I am of these kids. That may sound corny or trivial but it does not matter to me."
   The first half was dominated by defense. ETSU only allowed Wofford seven points in the first quarter when the Terriers have outscored opponents 52-10 in the opening quarter.
   The Bucs got on the scoreboard first after a 5-play, 69-yard drive in which quarterback, Michael George ran 45 yards for a touchdown. Wofford did not let the Buccaneers lead for long.
   Wofford's J.R. McNair ran for a two-yard touchdown on a second-and-goal drive. The drive was led by Jeff Zolman's rush for 24 yards to the ETSU 11 yard line.
   The beginning of the second quarter started out controversially for the Bucs. Montreal Harkley intercepted a Wofford pass in the end zone, and the referee called the ball down on the one yard line.
   Aaron Bass then punted out of the end zone without giving up the safety. Bass has punted over 10,000 yards in his career today with that punt. He has punted approximately 5.8 miles total.
   Fate again struck ETSU as Kenny Harper fumbled in ETSU's five-yard line. Matt Nelson recovered, and the Terriers score 30 seconds later on a one yard run by Keviuos Johnson. At the half ETSU was down 14-7.
   "Our goal is to go and win our last two games in Johnson City," Hamilton said. "We are thin but we will keep scrapping and fighting for a win."
   ETSU notes:
   * Gaven Varner did not play in the second half because of an elbow injury.
   * SoCon tackles leader Mike Cullen lead ETSU with 13 tackles Saturday.
   * The Bucs continue to struggle in the middle quarters. They did not score a touchdown in the second and third quarters. Wofford scored one touchdown every quarter Saturday.
   * Possession time was nearly the same as ETSU had the ball 29:39 and Wofford 30:21.
   * Aaron Bass punted for 265 yards with his longest of 67 yards.
   * Mike Cornegay was out because of sickness. Tony Tiller did not play again Saturday because of an ankle injury.