SPARTANBURG, S.C. -- Wofford's Malik Rivera intercepted a two-point conversion attempt with 46 seconds to play as the 11th-ranked Terriers held off Furman, 24-23, in the season opener for both schools on Saturday evening at Gibbs Stadium in Spartanburg, S.C.
Chase Nelson capped Wofford's rally from a 17-10 fourth-quarter deficit with a 1-yard touchdown run with 2:46 to play to give the Terriers a 24-17 lead. Triston Luke answered for the Paladins by capping a 63-yard Furman drive with a 44-yard touchdown run down the right sideline with 46 seconds to play. After a timeout, Furman lined up for the two-point conversion. Wide Receiver Ryan DeLuca took the direct snap and sprinted out to the right, but his pass intended for quaterback P.J. Blazejowski, was picked off by Rivera inside the three yard line, preserving the Terriers' lead.
Furman's ensuing onside kick attempt failed.
Blazejowski, a senior from St. Augustine, Fla., completed 13-of-24 pass attempts for 224 yards and the Paladins rushed 35 times for 159 yards to finish the night with 383 yards of total offense.
The Terriers grabbed an early 7-0 lead, taking the opening kickoff and moving 69 yards for a touchdown, which came on a 16-yard Andre Stoddard run.
The Paladins got on the board on their first possession with freshman Grayson Atkins' 20-yard field goal on his first collegiate attempt.
After Wofford went up 10-3, the Paladins tied the game with a 10-play, 84-yard drive that culminated with a 1-yard touchdown plunge by Antonio Wilcox midway through the second quarter.
Furman had two chances to take the lead on its next possession, but a holding penalty erased a touchdown run and Atkins missed a 33-yard field goal following the mark off.
The Paladins took a 17-10 lead on the opening drive of the second half, covering 75 yards in eight plays for a Blazejowski 3-yard run off right tackle.
Both defenses buckled down on the next four possessions, forcing punts before Wofford tied the game, 17-17, on a Lennox McAfee 15-yard run off an option pitch three plays into the fourth quarter.
A Quandarius Weems fumble recovery at the Furman 19 with 8:00 to go helped the Paladins thrwart one Wofford bid to take the lead, but Chase Nelson responded from his earlier fumble to put the Terriers ahead, scoring on a 1-yard plunge at the 2:46 mark.
Furman started its final possession at its own 24 and used a 21-yard pass from Blazejowski to Thomas Gordon to move to the Wofford 44 with a minute to play. On the next play, Luke took Blazejowski's handoff, turned the corner, and bolted down the sideline to pull the Paladins to within 24-23.
Furman plays host to Elon next Saturday at Paladin Stadium. Kickoff set for 1:00 p.m.