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The Citadel soldiers on through difficult spring football season, with Wofford next | Citadel


Three FCS teams opted out of the spring football season this week, including Southern Conference contender Chattanooga.

But The Citadel, struggling mightily during this unprecedented SoCon spring with an 0-5 league record, continues to solider on. The Bulldogs are at Wofford (1-3) at 1 p.m. April 3 at Gibbs Stadium in Spartanburg.

Chattanooga’s decision to discontinue its season, despite a 3-1 start to its SoCon season, prompted some to wonder if The Citadel would, or should, follow suit. FCS squads Albany and Cal Poly also called it quits this week.

At least one Bulldog player answered with a resounding no.

“One of the most important things I’ve learned from my 4 years is that no matter how hard things get you never quit,” Bulldogs offensive lineman Jon Barrett Lewis posted on Twitter. “You’re going to get knocked down, but you have to get back up and keep fighting (until) you find a way to make it happen. Tough times never last, tough people do.”

And times have been tough for The Citadel. The Bulldogs’ 55-7 loss to Samford last week, fueled by seven turnovers, was The Citadel’s worst home loss since a 51-0 rout by Appalachian State in 1999. Along with personnel losses to COVID-19 opt-outs and injuries, The Citadel has been dealing with player suspensions due to improper purchases at the campus bookstore.

Seventeen players, many of them starters, have served their one-game suspensions over the last four games. Four more players are likely to sit against Wofford.

“We’re learning a lot of life lessons this season,” coach Brent Thompson said after the Samford game. “We’re paying for some things that happened in the past, and we’re gonna keep on paying. We’re gonna stick our chins out and continue to fight.”

The Bulldogs’ personnel situation could improve against Wofford.

Quarterback Jaylan Adams missed the Samford game after taking a helmet-to-helmet hit against ETSU on March 20. He will be available this week, Thompson said, along with backup Darique Hampton, who started his first game against Samford.

Center Haden Haas and linebacker Anthony Britton, also unavailable against Samford, should be back in the lineup. All-America linebacker Willie Eubanks III, who has not played since getting injured against Chattanooga on March 6, will be a game-time decision, Thompson said.

Suspensions and opt-outs have forced The Citadel to play a lot of freshmen this spring. Fifteen freshmen were in the 2-deep against Samford, including a starting center playing his first college game.

“There’s no other way to do it other than to go out and play in a football game,” Thompson said. “The unfortunate thing is you’ve got to have them all play at one time. That’s gonna look ugly, it’s gonna look bad at times. But as I told the kids after the game, it’s not always going to be this way.”

Wofford has had its own personnel issues this spring, particularly on the defensive line, and had its March 6 game against ETSU postponed.

The Terriers, preseason favorites to win the SoCon, have lost their last three games, by 24-13 to Chattanooga, 37-31 to Samford and 36-31 to VMI. Wofford has scored exactly 31 points in three of its four SoCon games, with running back Irvin Mulligan, a freshman from Whale Branch High School, the top rusher with 249 yards and two touchdowns.

Sophomore Jimmy Weirick has taken most of the snaps at quarterback, hitting 54.5 percent of his throws for 511 yards and two TDs with two interceptions. Wofford is -1 in turnover margin in SoCon games, while The Citadel is a staggering -9.

• The Citadel has scheduled a home game against North Greenville for Sept. 18 in the fall 2021 season. The game replaces a game scheduled for Sept. 25 at South Carolina State, which has scheduled a game at New Mexico State for that date. The Citadel’s home-and-home series with S.C. State will be pushed back … No. 10 VMI can clinch its first SoCon title since 1977 with a win over ETSU on Saturday. The Keydets are 5-0 this season. 

Reach Jeff Hartsell at 843-937-5596. Follow on Twitter @Jeff_fromthePC

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