MACON, Ga. – Down 13 points with nine minutes left in the game, the Wofford College football team rallied for a 28-27 win at Mercer on Saturday afternoon at Five Star Stadium. The Terriers scored touchdowns at the 6:18 and 3:34 marks of the fourth quarter and intercepted Mercer twice in the final two minutes for the win.
Wofford opens the season 2-0 overall and in the Southern Conference, while the Bears are 1-1 on the season and 0-1 in league play. The Terriers were led by Lennox McAfee with 99 yards and two touchdowns on nine carries, while Blake Morgan and Andre Stoddard added rushing touchdowns. The defense came up with three interceptions and one fumble recovery. The Bears were led by Avery Ward with 113 receiving yards and Kaelan Riley was 14-of-28 passing for 167 yards.
“The big thing that we tried to tell then at the half was that there was time,” said head coach Mike Ayers. “The first half we did not execute well and they had a nice game plan. We struggled a bit defensively. At the half we got the guys dialed in on defense. We had some big plays on offense and some plays where we had misreads that put us behind the sticks. We executed at a high level in the second half on both sides of the ball. You are going to get the other team’s best shot every game and we knew it wasn’t going to be easy. We kept battling and that is all that you can ask. We are going to iron out some of the kinks during the open week and get better.”
The Bears returned the opening kickoff 91 yards to the eight-yard line. On third down, a seven yard catch by Marquise Irvin gave Mercer a 7-0 lead less than two minutes into the game. Wofford gained one first down before punting. With the ball back, the Bears covered 72 yards in nine plays and capped the drive with a 15-yard touchdown reception by Avery Ward for a 14-0 lead. The Terriers had one first down on their next possession, but were forced to punt.
Mercer took over on the 20-yard line. A sack by Colton Clemons on third down forced the Bears to punt. Wofford started at the Mercer 45-yard line and Chase Nelson gained a first down. After another first down, Lennox McAfee went 33-yards down the far sideline for a touchdown. Wofford trailed 14-7 at 14:14 in the second quarter. The Bears gained three first downs, but a false start and tackle for loss by George Gbesee ended the drive. Wofford took over at the eight yard line after the punt with 10:10 left in the first half. Andre Stoddard picked up a 22-yard run on the first play of the drive, but the drive stalled and Wofford punted.
With the ball back, the Bears went for a deep pass on the first play but it was dropped. A three-and-out gave the Terriers the ball at the 25-yard line after the punt. A holding penalty on the first play of the drive by Wofford could not be overcome and the Terriers punted. After a pair of first downs, a 32-yard pass moved the ball inside the ten. Kaelan Riley capped the drive with a one-yard run for a 21-7 lead with 21 seconds left in the first half. The Terriers gained one first down before the half ended.
The Terriers had the ball to open the second half and after a pair of first downs Lennox McAfee went 57 yards down the near sideline for the touchdown. Wofford was down 21-14 at 11:55 in the third quarter. Mercer went three-and-out and punted on their first drive of the second half. Wofford then went three-and-out and punted with the Bears taking over at the 26-yard line. Devin Watson picked off a wobbly pass and Wofford took over at the 24-yard line. Chase Nelson added a first down. On fourth-and-goal from the one, a pass was broken up in the end zone to end the scoring chance.
On third-and-inches, the Bears fumbled but recovered the ball for a loss. On the punt, the Terriers ran into the punter to give Mercer a first down. The Bears then completed a 41-yard pass to move across midfield. The drive stalled in the redzone but added points on a 32-yard field goal to take a 24-14 lead with 14:19 left in the fourth quarter. Deep in their own territory, the Terriers converted a fourth-and-two with a reception by R.J. Taylor. Back-to-back sacks forced Wofford to punt with ten minutes left in the quarter. The Bears returned the punt 51 yards and began the drive at the 26 yard line. Despite not gaining a first down, they put three points on the board with a 34-yard field goal for a 27-14 advantage with 8:15 remaining.
On the first play of the ensuing drive for the Terriers, the ball was fumbled but recovered by Wofford. Blake Morgan then caught a 46-yard pass to move across midfield and added a second first down reception. Andre Stoddard found the end zone from ten yards out to cut the lead to 27-21 with 6:18 left on the clock. The Bears completed a pass, but the ball was stripped by George Gbesee and Wofford took over at the 29-yard line. On fourth-and-goal from the two, Blake Morgan dove at the pylon for a touchdown. Wofford took a 28-27 lead with 3:34 on the clock.
The Bears then picked up a first down on a pass interference call, but then were backed up by a holding penalty. On a long pass, Devin Watson got inside the receiver for his second interception of the day. Wofford took over with 1:52 remaining. The Terriers were unable to gain a first down and Mercer used their remaining timeouts on the drive, giving the Bears the ball with 1:25 left. After a sack, Terrance Morris made a diving interception and Wofford took over at the 38-yard line with sixty seconds remaining. One knee later the Terriers left Macon with a 28-27 victory.
Wofford had 367 total yards, with 274 rushing. Mercer had 273 total yards, 167 of which were passing. Wofford had a 17 to 14 advantage in first downs. Wofford was 4-of-14 on third downs and 2-of-3 on fourth downs. Mercer was 5-of-12 on third down. Mercer was called for two penalties, while Wofford was whistled six times. Wofford had a 33:07 to 26:53 time of possession advantage.
Wofford vs. Mercer Post-Game Notes
Wofford has now won all four meetings between the teams as members of the Southern Conference. Both wins at Mercer have come by one point.
Devin Watson’s interception in the third quarter was his first of the season and he added his second in the fourth quarter, giving him five in his career. Terrance Morris had the second interception of his career.
Lennox McAfee had a career-high 99 rushing yards, while Andre Stoddard had 53 yards and a touchdown.
Datavious Wilson led the team with seven tackles. The Terriers had two sacks, one by Colton Clemons and one shared by Thad Mangum and Brandon Curtis.
Coach Mike Ayers reached win number 1999 at Wofford (209 total).
Game captains were Colton Clemons, Chase Nelson, Chuck Rouse, and Daryl Vining.
Attendance was 11,727 at Five Star Stadium.
Following an open week, the Terriers will host Gardner-Webb on September 23.