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Something’s got to give on Saturday

    Georgia Southern’s offensive line is gearing up for its biggest test so far this season, and the men in the trenches say they are ready.
    North Dakota State (4-0), ranked No. 11, rolls into Statesboro for a 1 p.m. game Saturday boasting a defense that surrenders merely 29 rushing yards per game – the fewest by any team in Division I – and an average 1.2 yards per carry. NDSU will face a No. 21 Georgia Southern (2-2) team that ranks sixth in Division I-AA with 241 rushing yards a game.
    “They are definitely the best defense we’ve faced this year,” senior center Lance Wayne said. “We are just looking forward to the challenge. We love the challenge.”
    Georgia Southern’s potent ground game is anchored by the one-two punch of tailbacks Chris Covington and Lamar Lewis. Covington ranks fourth in I-AA and second in the Southern Conference with 134.8 rushing yards a game, while Lewis is 11th nationally and third in the league with 118.3.
    “First in the nation in rush defense? Bring it on,” said Covington, who has always given high praise to his o-line. “I’d run behind those boys any day.”
    Lewis agrees.
    “With our line, I feel good against any team in the nation,” he said.
    Eagle coaches and players said they’ve been impressed with what they’ve seen on film of the fundamentally sound Bison.
    “I think it’s going to be a great experience,” Covington said. “North Dakota State is a great team. They’re big, they’re strong, they’re fast. It’s going to be a great challenge, and we are really excited to take that challenge, as I’m sure they are too. It’s going to be a good thing to see.”
    The Eagles said their practice plans haven’t changed as they prepare for the Bison’s tough defense.
    “It’s the same routine,” Lewis said. “We go out here and practice hard, and the practice will carry over into the game. The harder you practice, the easier the game. These guys are really good. Our job is to hit our holes, hit our landmarks and be patient. All we can do is play our game.”
    The Bisons’ wins include a pair of I-AA schools, Northeastern and Stephen F. Austin, and a road win over I-A’s Ball State.
    “We are treating this (game) like a measuring stick,” Wayne said. “We feel like they are national championship contenders. I have no doubt that if we handle our assignments and do what we’re taught to do, we can get it done up front.”
    Wayne knows where Saturday’s football game will be decided.
    “It’s going to be won in the trenches,” he said. “Our ability to run the ball is our whole offensive scheme. If we can’t run the ball, then our offense is nowhere. We are always confident. We don’t think there’s anybody in the world that can stop us up front.”
    Said junior right tackle Russell Orr:  “It’s going to be a test for the O-line, and we are up for the challenge.”
 
    Alex Pellegrino can be reached at (912) 489-9413.

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