seth goldwire 2Seth Goldwire discusses Wofford's emergence.
seth goldwire 1Seth Goldwire talks about his touchdown.
STATESBORO — If he was putting on a show for the home crowd, Wofford College senior Seth Goldwire perhaps couldn’t have scripted it any better.
The former Effingham County High School star and Guyton native, in front about two dozen family and friends, turned in a standout performance befitting an all-Southern Conference linebacker — 11 tackles, two interceptions and a fumble recovery to help the Terriers become just the first opponent to win at Georgia Southern University’s Paulson Stadium three times.
“It feels just like home,” a jubilant Goldwire said following the Terriers’ dramatic 38-37 overtime victory Saturday. “You love playing games in front of your family and friends.”
Goldwire may not have had the stage to himself at Paulson on Saturday — not in a game that included 977 yards of offense between the two teams and the host Eagles erasing a 17-point halftime deficit — but he helped direct the 14th-ranked Terriers triumph.
Goldwire, who was named the Southern Conference defensive player of the week for his efforts Saturday night, returned an interception 35 yards for a touchdown, the first of his collegiate career, to push Wofford’s advantage to 14-0 just 3 minutes and 55 seconds into the game. Terrier cornerback Mychael Johnson knocked Antonio Henton’s pass away from intended receiver Michael McIntosh, and Goldwire was the happy recipient.
“The ball kinda fell into my hands,” he said. “I was in the right place at the right time. When I realized I had the ball, I just ran for the end zone. I was thinking end zone the whole way. That’s what you’ve got to do when you’ve got an opportunity like that.”
Goldwire picked off Lee Chapple’s desperation heave on the final play of the first half and also recovered an Eagle fumble at the Wofford 23 early in the third quarter. On his second interception, Goldwire caught the ball at the Terriers 10 and returned it 26 yards before getting tackled.
“I was thinking end zone, so I just ran for my life,” he said.
He did some more running after Georgia Southern’s game-winning, two-point conversion attempt was blunted, leaving the Terriers with a one-point win. Goldwire’s thoughts as Chapple was brought down by Jason Leventis — “Joy,” he said. “All I could think to do was run. I just started running.”
Behind Goldwire, the Terriers forged a 31-14 halftime lead. but that margin was gone with Adrian Mora’s game-tying field goal with 6 seconds left in regulation, forcing an overtime that included Wofford going for — and getting — a fourth down to set up a touchdown and the Eagles eschewing a point after kick that would have extended the game for a two-point play.
“Georgia Southern is a great, great team,” Goldwire said. “If you give them any opportunities, they are going to take advantage of them. It’s a growing experience for us. We overcame some obstacles, and I think we overcame adversity well.”
The 5-foot-11, 215-pound senior also was credited for 1.5 sacks against Georgia Southern. And he has grown from a special teams player to one of the premier defensive players in the Southern Conference, Wofford’s program too is rising rapidly. The Terriers made their second Football Championship Subdivision appearance last year and won the SoCon for the first time.
Wofford — one of the four smallest schools in Division I — was ranked as high as sixth last season and ended the year ranked 10th
“It’s a testament to the type of players we have at Wofford and the great job our coaches are doing,” he said. “We’re growing. We’re headed in the right direction.”
The Terriers, now 3-1 overall and 1-0 in the league, are off this week before hosting Chattanooga on Oct. 11.
There are still games with three-time defending national champion Appalachian State, neighborhood rival Furman and Elon ahead. Wofford is off to a good start, and Goldwire believes more is in the offing.
“We’re capable of making ourselves better,” he said. “Getting better from week to week, that’s our goal."