Courtesy of Charleston Southern Athletics
CHARLESTON, S.C. - Charleston Southern did what they've failed to do in the past, which was lead Wofford in the fourth quarter, but the Bucs could not hold on to it as the Terriers scored twice in the last six minutes to take a 34-23 victory over CSU on Saturday.
The loss snapped a five-game winning streak for Charleston Southern (1-1) and moved the all-time result to 13-0 in favor of Wofford (1-1).
"We're past the point of moral victories in this program," said Coach Jay Mills. "There's no such thing. We expect to compete nationally with anybody that plays against us at the Division I FCS level. I think we showed that; at the same point in time, it's just unacceptable for us to come up short. We really expected to win this game, we expected to win it all the way. We tip our hat to Wofford. They've built an excellent program."
Charleston Southern had 376 yards of offense, the third game in a row and fourth time in five games that CSU has posted more than 375 yards of offense, dating back to November 7, 2009 against Presbyterian.
A.J. Toscano completed 25 of his 41 passes, just the second time in his career that he has completed more than 20 passes. His favorite target on the day was Anthony Chalmers, who caught six passes for 71 yards and a touchdown, although the TD strike actually came from the arm of Gerald Stevenson in the third quarter. The touchdown gave CSU a 16-13 lead with 4:43 left in the quarter. Stevenson also caught five passes for 56 yards, while James Nunley had a career-best four catches on 55 yards.
Chris Patrick led the defense with a career-best 14 tackles, including two behind the line of scrimmage. Chris Kuzdale had nine tackles for the second game in a row.
As usual, it was the rushing attack of Wofford that proved too much for CSU, with three running backs with 50 yards or more, led by Eric Breitenstein's 97-yard, two-touchdown day.
"You had two excellent teams, you had a very good representative of the SoCon and a very good representative of the Big South Conference," said Mills. "We said we're going to treat this as a bowl game, and that's what it really was. They were teams that were equal as far as toughness, discipline, and instinct. It couldn't be a better bowl game matchup. And that's what it is this year. It used to be a playoff game, but we haven't lost anything with regard to opportunity to compete for postseason play. That's what this team has had on their minds from the beginning."
The Bucs held a number of leads throughout the game, beginning on the first possession of the game as CSU moved down the field going 80 yards in 12 plays to score on a six-yard pass from Toscano to Deon Lee.
A Christian Reed 30-yard field goal and a Mike Rucker 76-yard run put the Terriers up 10-7, but John Paglia split the upright from 45 yards out to tie the game 10-10 just after halftime.
Just before the break, CSU tried to execute a fake field goal to take a lead into halftime, and although they got the look they wanted, the holder couldn't keep a handle on the ball and a fumbled snap thwarted the attempt before it began.
Reed hit again from 39 yards out, but the halfback pass from Stevenson to Chalmers gave CSU a 16-13 lead after the extra point was missed.
The two teams traded touchdowns as the game went into the fourth quarter, with DeMarcus Moon scampering in from a yard out to put CSU up 23-20 with 10:58 to go in the game.
It was Wofford two put together two drives of 58 and 65 yards in the game's final six minutes to take the 34-23 victory in Charleston.
Charleston Southern will remain at home next weekend as the entertain Mars Hill for a 1:30 p.m. kick off. Wofford will open their home schedule with a contest against Union (Ky.) in Spartanburg.