Wildcats can't tackle Wofford running game, quarter-final playoff spot, again
Wofford's Eric Breitenstein (7) with a host of Wildcat players on a run. The Wofford Terriers opened the Football Championship Subdivision playoffs with a 23-7 victory over the New Hampshire Wildcats at Gibbs Stadium in Spartanburg on Saturday. (Alex Hicks, Spartanburg (SC) Herald-Journal)
Wildcat Sean Goldrich (5) throws the ball under pressure. The Wofford Terriers opened the Football Championship Subdivision playoffs with a 23-7 victory over the New Hampshire Wildcats at Gibbs Stadium in Spartanburg on Saturday. (Alex Hicks, Spartanburg (SC) Herald-Journal)
SPARTANBURG, S.C. - Way too much Eric Breitenstein. And far too little offense.
Those two factors teamed up to abruptly end the University of New Hampshire's stay in the NCAA Football Championship Subdivision Championship tournament on Saturday with a 23-7 loss to Wofford College in Gibbs Stadium.
Breitenstein rambled for 247 of Wofford's whopping total of 454 rushing yards in its rare and punishing triple option offense. He had more yards rushing than UNH had in total offense.
A senior fullback, Breitenstein didn't play in the fourth quarter and Wofford collected 415 of its rushing yards through three periods.
The Wildcats struggled mightily against the highly ranked Terrier defense and got their only points on a fumble recovery.
"One, they ran the football very, very well as they always do," said UNH coach Sean McDonnell. "Two, I thought defensively they played downhill on us and created turnovers. They didn't let us breathe on offense at all. We didn't move the ball effectively. We couldn't run and just struggled to get into any type of rhythm."
The Wildcats have one of the best red zone offenses in the country, but never got to run a play inside the Wofford 20. They had 238 yards of total offense, the only time they've been under 345 yards against an FCS team this year.
"Unfortunately, we weren't able to execute our offense the way we wanted to," said redshirt freshman quarterback Sean Goldrich."Their defense did a great job stopping the run, stopping the pass, putting pressure on."
The Wildcats had 73 yards rushing and 165 passing.
UNH made its ninth straight appearance in the FCS tournament and lost in the second round for the second consecutive season.
The Wildcats close out at 8-4 overall.
Wofford improved to 9-3 and advances to the quarterfinals to play defending champion North Dakota State.
UNH's grabbed the momentum - for just a minute or so as it turned out - early in the third quarter.
Linebacker Alan Buzbee forced a fumble by Donovan Johnson and lineman Cody Muller scooped the ball and returned it 14 yards for a score. Mike MacArthur, the junior from No. Hampton, kicked the extra point and it was 13-7 with 12:15 left in the third.
The Wildcats did a nice job on kickoff coverage and had Wofford backed up its own 10-yard line.
"I think it was a big momentum boost," Muller said. "Everyone was fired up, ready to go."
But Wofford responded quickly.
The Terriers converted one third down and then on 1st and 10 from their own 29, Breitenstein ripped off back-to-back 45 and 26 yard runs to the end zone for a 20-7 lead.
"They go 90-something yards and they slice us," McDonnell said. "They hit us three or four times with the fullback. He broke three or four tackles there again. Great runner."
Wofford bumped it up to 23-7 with a Kasey Redfern 33-yard field goal with 2:57 left in the third period.
Breitensten led the Terriers to a 13-0 first-half lead. He had 173 yards rushing in the first half alone and scored on a 54-yard run early in the first period and a 6-yarder late in the second.
His first-half numbers dwarfed UNH's totals. The Wildcats managed 23 yards rushing in the half and 128 yards overall.
Still, it was only 7-0 until Wofford punched in the late score.
UNH recovered a couple of fumbles in the half to help slow the Terriers.
The problem was, the Wildcats were turning the ball over faster than they got it. They lost one fumble in the first half and Goldrich was picked off twice.
UNH made its deepest move into Wofford territory early in the second period. The Wildcats had a 1st and 10 at the 27, but Goldrich was sacked and stripped of the ball.
The Wildcats got to Wofford's 30 midway through the second period, but on 2nd and 7, a low Goldrich pass was deflected and intercepted at the UNH 33.
The Terriers turned that miscue into their second touchdown. Breitenstein covered the last 6 yards untouched. Kasey Redfern's conversion kick hit the left upright and bounced away with 1:13 left in the half.
Goldrich then was picked off by linebacker Mike Niam. The Wildcats dodged trouble on the last play of the half when Redfern missed a 34-yard field goal wide.
Breitenstein scored his first touchdown on Wofford's fourth play of the game. The Terriers had forced a UNH punt on its first series. Wofford had a 4th and 1 from the UNH 46 and Breitenstein broke through the line and went 54 yards for the score.
It was a sign of what was to come.
Wofford 23, UNH 7
New Hampshire 0 0 7 0 — 7
Wofford 7 6 10 0 — 23
W: Breitenstein 54 run (Redfern kick) 11:51
W: Breitenstein 6 run (Redfern kick failed) 1:13
UNH: Muller 14 fumble return (MacArthur kick) 12:15
W: Breitenstein 26 run (Redfern kick) 9:58
W: Redfern 33 field goal 2:57
First Downs 17 25
3rd Down 8-for-17 6-for-15
3rd Down Efficiency 47% 40%
4th Down 1-for-3 3-for-5
Total Yards 238 479
Rushing 34-73 71-454
Comp-Att-Int 21-39-2 4-6-0
Passing Yards 165 25
Penalties-Yards 4-27 4-31
Fumbles-Lost 5-1 5-3
Time of Possession 24:33 35:27
RUSHING: UNH, Steriti 11-51, Setian 5-18, Owens 1-9, Vailas 6-2, Harris 2-0, Goldrich 9-(-7); W, Breitenstein 22-247, Nocek 8-65, Johnson 14-45, Kass 2-38, Irwin 1-1, Redfern 1-13, Youman 1-12, Smith 2-9, Lawson 12-7, Harden 4-2, Flowers 2-2, Team 2-(-4)
PASSING: UNH, Goldrich 17-29-113-2, Vailas 4-9-52-0, Orlando 0-1-0-0; W, Lawson 4-6-25-0
RECEIVING: UNH, Harris 11-78, Orlando 4-53, Ciccone 1-21, Mello 1-7, Setian 2-6, Steriti 1-1, Goldrich 1-(-1); W, Ashley 2-13, Youman 1-6, Greene 1-6