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Wofford Falls in FCS Playoffs

By Matthew Golden
SouthernPigskin.com
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Southern Conference champion Wofford falls to Kennesaw State 28-21.

The Terriers came into this weekend’s FCS playoff matchup rolling, winning five of their last six, and winning their last seven conference games. Unfortunately, the success of the regular season didn’t carry over into the playoffs. The Wofford defense would allow third-string quarterback Jonathan Murphy to have a historic game, as he became the first FCS quarterback to rush for three touchdowns in a playoff game.

The Terriers were able to strike first as they managed to put together an eight play, 73- yard drive, capped off by a five -yard score from senior halfback Blake Morgan. Although the Owls had nearly double the time of possession, Wofford would outgain Kennesaw State by thirty yards in the first quarter.

As the second quarter began, the Kennesaw State offense was able to loosen up the Terrier defense to an extent with a couple of quick completions. About two and a half minutes into the second quarter, the Owls would strike back with an impressive drive of their own. Tommy Bryant’s offense went 64 yards in nine plays and tied the score with a Tommy Bryant keeper for two yards.

On the Owls following drive, quarterback Tommy Bryant, who has backed up injured starter Daniel David for the past few weeks, was injured himself after a twelve-yard rush. Jonathan Murphy, the sophomore from Long Beach Community College, took over at quarterback and made his presence felt immediately.

This is where the tides changed. Murphy would rush for 64 yards on just seven carries in the first half and came about three yards short of an incredible touchdown as the second quarter expired. 

At halftime, the Terriers and Owls found themselves knotted up at seven a piece.

Before many fans were able to get back to their seats, Joe Newman completed two big passes to start the second half, putting the Terriers in great scoring position right from the get-go. Blake Morgan would tack on his second rushing score of the night on a one-yard carry from the goal line.

The Terriers then forced a three and out after allowing the Owls to drive down to their 31- yard line, but after gaining just five yards and being forced to punt, momentum would completely swing back to Kennesaw St.

The Terriers defensive struggles against Jonathan Murphy would continue to grow as it only took four plays for him and the Owl offense to reach the endzone and tie things up at 14.

Kennesaw State continued to build momentum on the following drive when Big South Defensive Player of the Year, Bryce Armstrong, forced a fumble around midfield. The ball was picked up and returned to the Terriers twenty -yard line. Six plays later, Murphy would rumble in for his second touchdown of the half, putting the Terriers down by a score of 21-14.

Wofford’s offense couldn’t get anything going on the ground, their main production point on offense, and was out gained 222 to 79 on rushing yards through three quarters.

The Owls defense was visibly much more discipline  against the option offense then Wofford was, and the Terriers defense began to wear down. Kennesaw State, holding a seven-point lead with 4:01 left in the game, called on Jonathan Murphy again, this time taking 1 rush for 61 yards and the score.

This just about put the nail in the coffin for Wofford, despite a late touchdown pass from T.J. Luther to Jimmy Weirick with less than a minute and a half remaining. The Terriers would fail to recover the onside kick attempt, virtually ending the game. Kennesaw State would line up in victory formation and begin to celebrate.

Wofford finishes the season 8-4, now looking forward to the offseason and recruiting process. Kennesaw State moves onto 11-2 and has a matchup with No. 3 overall seed Weber State in Ogden, Utah next weekend.