Wofford drops SoCon opener

College Sports

LEXINGTON, Va.. – The Wofford College football team was defeated 31-23 by VMI on Saturday afternoon at Foster Stadium.  With the game tied 14-14 at the half, the Keydets outscored the Terriers 17-9 in the second half to secure the victory.

Wofford opens the season at 1-2, while VMI is 3-1. It was the Southern Conference opener for both teams. The Terriers were led by Irvin Mulligan with 20 carries for 136 yards, while Jimmy Weirick was 11-of-19 passing for 119 yards along with 52 rushing yards. Korey Bridy led the Keydets with 22 carries for 171 yards and a pair of touchdowns.

“I think the first thing for us is there is going to be a lot to build on,” said Wofford head coach Josh Conklin. “The defensive guys played with a tremendous amount of effort and I think we got better as a football team even though the scoreboard doesn’t say that. What it came down to today they had more explosive plays than we did. They put 31 on the board and we had 23 with some opportunities late to get touchdowns. We were in the redzone late in the first half and couldn’t punch it in. We had our opportunities and now it comes down to consistency and being able to do it at a higher level. I like this football team and I like where we are going.”

The Keydets had the ball to open the game and had four first downs, including a 30-yard run and a 24-yard pass on the way to a five-yard touchdown run by Korey Bridy for a 7-0 lead with 9:55 on the clock. Wofford answered with a seven-play drive that was capped by a 43-yard touchdown run by Irvin Mulligan to tie the game at 7-7 with 6:20 left in the first quarter. After the Wofford defense forced a three-and-out and punt, the Terriers had a first down run by Jimmy Weirick and then a 21-yard pass to Kyle Watkins. Another first down pass to Jim Welsh moved the ball into the redzone and a run by Nathan Walker advanced the Terriers inside the five. Jimmy Weirick ran the ball in for a four-yard touchdown and a 14-7 lead with 14:03 on the clock in the second quarter. The Wofford defense came up with a pair of sacks on the next drive by the Keydets and they punted.

On the next drive by Wofford, they had a first down before a fumbled pitch was recovered by the Keydets near midfield. After picking up three first downs, a 20-yard touchdown pass to Chance Knox tied the game at 14-14 at the 7:49 mark of the second quarter. With the ball back, Wofford had three first downs before facing a fourth-and-one that was converted by a Jimmy Weirick run up the middle. After another first down, the Terriers had a fourth-and-two at the five-yard line. A run for no gain turned the ball over to the Keydets with 41 seconds left in the half. They had one first down before a sack and forced fumble by Chuck Smith ended the half.

Wofford had the ball to open the second half and Irvin Mulligan had a 22-yard run to move across midfield but they had to punt. The Keydets had two first downs before a 47-yard touchdown pass from Collin Ironside to Leroy Thomas for a 21-14 lead with 10:53 on the clock in the third quarter. After Wofford went three-and-out and punted, the Keydets had one first down before a fumble was recovered by Cameron Woolery at the 28-yard line. Jimmy Weirick was roughed on second down, moving the ball to the 13-yard line. Wofford settled for a 25-yard field goal by Walker Gliarmis to cut the lead to 21-17 at 6:11 in the quarter. On the ensuing drive, the Keydets had three first downs and then a 34-yard touchdown run by Korey Bridy made it a 28-17 game with 2:55 left in the quarter. Wofford had a first down catch by Garrett Vernon and then Irvin Mulligan had a 31-yard run to move inside the ten-yard line. After two stops from the one-yard line, Wofford faced fourth down and Jimmy Weirick scored on the keeper. The two-point run was stopped and the Terriers trailed 28-23 with 10:52 remaining.

The Keydets began their next drive with a 25-yard run for a first down. The drive stalled and a 42-yard field goal pushed the lead to 31-23 with 8:42 on the clock. Wofford had one first down before having to punt back to the Keydets. A strip-sack of the quarterback by John Beckley was recovered by Harrison Morgan at the 27-yard line. After a first down, a ball was tipped and intercepted by the Keydets who took over with 3:53 left in the game. They were unable to gain a yard and were forced to punt. Wofford faced a fourth-and-eight and the pass was complete, but short with one minute remaining. The Keydets took a knee twice to end the game.

Wofford had 375 total yards, with 256 rushing yards. VMI had 319 total yards, 183 of which were passing. Wofford had a 20 to 18 advantage in first downs. Wofford was 8-of-16 on third down, along with 2-of-4 on fourth down. VMI was 4-of-8 on third down. Wofford was called for two penalties to three for VMI. The Terriers had a 35:36 to 24:24 time of possession advantage.

Wofford vs. VMI Post-Game Notes

VMI has won back-to-back games in the series for the first time since 1988 and 1992. Wofford leads the all-time series that began in 1924 by a 13-12 margin.

The 20 carries and 134 rushing yards were both career-highs by Irvin Mulligan.

Joe Beckett led the team with ten tackles, followed by John Beckley with seven. Chuck Smith had his first career sack and forced fumble, while Cameron Woolery had his first career sack.

LB Camden Gray, S John Michael DiRoberto, DL Brandon Maina, DB Isaiah Wadsworth and DL Anthonie Lattany made their first career starts.

Game captains were Peyton Derrick, Micheal Mason and Nathan Walker.

Attendance at Foster Stadium was 5,077.

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