Wofford Football Falls 28-21 At UNI
By Southern Pigskin Staff
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Wofford rushes for 457 yards in loss to Northern Iowa 28-21 in FCS playoffs.
CEDAR FALLS, Iowa – In the second round of the NCAA FCS Playoffs, Wofford was defeated 28-21 at the University of Northern Iowa in the UNI-Dome. Three turnovers and penalties were too costly for the Terriers to overcome, despite rushing for 457 yards in the game.
The Terriers are 8-4 on the season. UNI is 10-2 overall and ranked second in the nation. For Wofford, Eric Breitenstein and Mitch Allen each had over 100 rushing yards. Breitenstein had 131 with three touchdowns and Allen had 156 rushing yards. The Panthers we led by quarterback Tirrell Rennie with 95 rushing yards and 7-of-12 passing for 67 yards and two touchdowns.
“We played a really well coached football team in Northern Iowa,” said head coach Mike Ayers. “They were a big physical crew and we knew going in that size was a factor but our kids did not blink. They just went out there and played hard. I did a poor job of coaching my guys in some situations and it showed today. I wish I had done a better job for them and if I had we would have won the game. I think offensively we did some great things and we had some situations where our biggest opponent was us in terms of self-destructing in the second half. We got it back together and I think any other group would have waved the white flag. These guys have always been fighters. We have been blessed to have Mitch as our leader and he took some shots today and kept getting up. We knew it was going to be a twelve round fight and we knew that when you come into someone’s house the bottom line is there is an advantage. We believed in what we were doing and felt that we had prepared. I love these guys and I love this team. They have been a great group to coach. We have been fortunate to get here and thought we had a legitimate shot to go all the way.”
The Panthers had the ball to open the game and scored first on a 23-yard touchdown pass from Tirrell Rennie to Jarred Herring. UNI took a 7-0 lead with 12:09 on the clock. Wofford then put together a 16-play drive that took 8:39 off the clock and was capped by a three-yard touchdown run by Eric Breitenstein. The Terriers gained six first downs on the drive to tie the game at 7 with 3:30 left in the first quarter.
UNI gained two first downs on their next drive, but three straight incompletions forced a punt. With the ball back, Wofford was went three and out and punted. The Panthers were driving when Alvin Scioneaux sacked Tirrell Rennie and forced a fumble that was recovered by Ameet Pall. Wofford was unable to gain a first down and punted with 10:38 on the clock in the second quarter.
Wofford then forced UNI to punt after a three-and-out. Wofford picked up a fourth-and-one at midfield by Mitch Allen and then Eric Breitenstein broke free on a run up the middle for a 46-yard touchdown. The Terriers had a 14-7 lead with 5:45 remaining in the first half. The Panthers punted again after being backed up by an Ameet Pall sack. After a 53-yard punt, Wofford took over at the four-yard line. A 46-yard run up the far sideline by Mitch Allen put the Terriers across midfield. Donovan Johnson converted a fourth-and-six, but Christian Reed’s 35-yard field goal attempt as time expired in the half was wide right.
To open the second half, Wofford picked up first downs on the first three plays. A pass was completed to Brenton Bersin, but the ball was fumbled and recovered by the Panthers. UNI then was able to turn the turnover into points with a five-yard touchdown pass from Tirrell Rennie to Jarred Herring to tie the game at 14 with 10:21 on the clock in the third quarter.
With the ball back, the Terriers gained four first downs before facing a fourth-and-five, but the pass was incomplete. The Panthers picked up two first downs, and gained another after two personal fouls against Wofford on the same play. UNI had the ball at the two-yard line, but after a 21-yard field goal attempt the Terriers were called for roughing the kicker and the Panthers had a first down inside the five. UNI scored on a one-yard run by David Johnson to take a 21-14 lead on the first play of the fourth quarter.
On the ensuing kickoff, Stephon Shelton caught the ball in the end zone, but failed to take a knee and the Panthers recovered the ball when it was dropped. Phil Wright jumped on the ball for a touchdown at 14:56 in the fourth quarter for a 28-14 lead. Wofford picked up three first downs, but then on third-and-one a fumbled snap was recovered by the Panthers. UNI gained two first downs before punting back to the Terriers.
Wofford got the ball back with 7:20 left in the fourth quarter. The Terriers were able to cover 88 yards in 15 plays and score a touchdown with two minutes left in the game. Eric Breitenstein took it in from three yards out for a 28-21 score. Wofford tried an onside kick, but it was recovered by the Panthers. The Terriers were able to force a 47-yard field goal attempt that was short and Wofford got the ball back with 53 seconds left. A sack on fourth-and-nine ended the Terriers chances.
Wofford had 478 total yards, with 457 on the ground. UNI had 238 total yards, 171 of which were rushing. Wofford was 8-of-15 on third downs and 2-of-4 on fourth down. UNI was 3-of-9 on third down. Wofford had ten penalties, while UNI was flagged twice. Wofford had the time of possession by a 34:29 to 24:04 margin.
UNI will travel to Montana next weekend to face the Grizzlies, who won 41-14 over Central Arkansas on Saturday.
Wofford vs. UNI Post-Game Notes
The game was the third this season on artificial turf. It was also the first time Wofford has played in a dome since 2002.
Eric Breitenstein had his tenth 100+ rushing game this season with 131 rushing yards. It is his 20th career 100+ rushing game. He also recorded his 46th career rushing touchdown, which is the second most among active players in the NCAA FCS.
With the 131 rushing yards, Eric Breitenstein moves to 1,474 on the season. This ranks as the third most in a single season. Breitenstein also holds the top single season mark at 1,639 yards set in 2010.
With Mitch Allen and Eric Breitenstein over 100 yards rushing, it marked the fifth time this season with at least two 100 yard rushers.
Mitch Allen had over 100 yards for the third time this season and the seventh time in his career with 156 yards.
Wofford ends 2011 at 8-4 on the season. It is the ninth time in the last ten seasons that the Terriers have had a winning record.
Game captains were Mitch Allen and Ameet Pall.
Attendance was 6,915 at the UNI-Dome