GREENVILLE — First place in the Southern Conference. Top-five national ranking. Four-game win streak against biggest rival.

Gone.

All those things were all ripped away from Wofford in a 34-14 loss Saturday afternoon to Furman at Paladin Stadium.

The Terriers (now 4-2 overall and 3-1 in the league), No. 4 in the FCS coaches’ poll, never seemed to have much of a chance. They scored a touchdown to get within 14-7, but that was with the help of Furman penalties, one being an unsportsmanlike flag after a third-down run came up short. The Paladins (2-3, 2-1) had a 27-7 advantage late in the third quarter.

"We can make all the excuses we want," Wofford head coach Josh Conklin said. "But our job is to show up and win football games — or at least give ourselves a chance to win football games. …We’ll have a lot to learn from this game."

When the Terriers quietly filed out of their postgame locker room, the one next door, the home team’s dressing area, was still in wild celebration.

"It’s always hard to swallow things like this," Wofford quarterback Joe Newman said. "It’s not necessarily that it came against Furman. We could have lined up against Alabama and expected to execute better than we did. We just didn’t come to play, I guess."

Wofford is now a game behind surprising East Tennessee State, which improved to 6-1 overall and 4-0 in the conference with a win Saturday against The Citadel. The Terriers play host next week to ETSU and the importance of that contest has skyrocketed.

"We’ll respond. And we’ll respond the right way," Conklin said. "Everything is still right there. We need to have a great week of practice and wake up a little bit."

If the Terriers were in a dream world, maybe that’s because they were ranked first nationally in rushing offense and sixth in total defense. But, take away a couple of second-half runs by Andre Stoddard and Lennox McAfee for a combined 85 yards when the game was all but decided, Wofford was more than 200 yards below the norm and the per-carry average down by more than three yards.

"We beat ourselves, plain and simple," said Stoddard, a Greenville native (St. Joseph’s Catholic) who came in leading the league in rushing. "We did not execute the way we are capable of executing."

On defense, Wofford had trouble against Furman’s fifth-year senior and first-year starter, quarterback Harris Roberts, who completed 16 of 19 passes for 235 yards and three touchdowns. He also ran for two scores. Injured in preseason, Roberts was appearing in only his third career game with significant snaps.

"He played really well, ran the option well and made good decisions," Conklin said. "His misdirection ball-handling was really good. I thought we had a good game plan defensively and understood what they wanted to do. But they gave us different looks, which is what good offensive coordinators do. We didn’t adjust."

The Terriers pride themselves in disguising their defenses, but Furman was disguising what it wanted to do on offense. A sleight of hand, usually Wofford’s trademark in the option attack, too often left receivers and ball-carriers wide-open.

"We have a lot of moving parts," Furman head coach Clay Hendrix said. "If you can make (Wofford) a little unsure with the formations or whatever, it’s good. There’s a lot of smoke and mirrors, but it’s by design."

Wofford’s offense, in the end, was only outgained by 13 yards. But the Terriers were 3-for-11 on third downs and 1-for-4 on fourth downs, while Furman was 8-for-13 in those situations. Besides the 12-play touchdown drive aided by penalties, Wofford’s best possession in the first seven was six plays for 22 yards.

"I felt like we were predictable at times," Conklin said. "We’ve got to do a better job."

Wofford had never trailed by more than seven points this season and that deficit was before the Terriers even got the ball last week against Chattanooga in an eventual 21-10 win. Being down by three touchdowns is not where this ground-control operates at full efficiency.

"If you get a lead," Hendrix said, "you feel a little more secure than you do against some other people who are throwing it all over the place. It just kind of worked out well for us."