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Southern Conference Notebook

After heartbreak, things won't get easier for UTC

Southern Conference Notebook

Southern Conference Notebook

Georgia Southern defensive end Dion D...

Chattanooga saw a 28-7 lead evaporate in Saturday’s season-opening, 42-41 loss to No. 3 Appalachian State, and after facing a Southern Conference giant in the first one, the schedule won’t get any easier this Saturday.

The Mocs (0-1, 0-1 SoCon) travel to Jacksonville, Ala. for a 7 p.m. kick against Jacksonville State. The No. 5 Gamecocks (1-0) overcame a 31-10 halftime deficit by scoring 21 fourth-quarter points to knock off the Southeastern Conference’s Ole Miss 49-48 in overtime Saturday.

"To make some of the plays they made at the end of that game, it was remarkable," said UTC coach Russ Huesman of JSU’s upset win over the Rebels. "Just watching it, it was one of the best games I’ve seen with an FCS team playing the FBS. We’ve got our hands full. To play back-to-back against two fantastic programs who will both be in the playoffs is a test."

Appalachian State (1-0, 1-0) had to overcome a similar deficit to defeat the Mocs, and ASU coach Jerry Moore chalked the comeback win up to conditioning.

"On the bus ride on the way home I could hear our linemen talking about how they didn’t get tired, stuff like that," Moore said. "I think that was a factor in the ballgame. In the fourth quarter when we had to make plays, we weren’t worn out."

Though the Mocs missed three extra-point attempts in the game, Moore was more focused on the Mountaineers’ miscues, citing a pair of first-half turnovers and a lack of execution for the early deficit.

"You think, ‘If I take seven or eight plays out of that ballgame, it’s a whole different ballgame.’ But we didn’t take them out," said Moore. "The mistakes hurt us."

The Mountaineers face a different Jacksonville Saturday, hosting the JU Dolphins (1-0), who defeated Old Dominion 35-25 in their season opener.

Replacing a star?

The Elon Phoenix lost 1,633 receiving yards and 16 touchdowns from 2009 when Terrell Hudgins graduated after the season, but although they fell 41-27 on the road at Duke in their first game, they may have found Hudgins’ heir.

Though Sean Jeffcoat led the Phoenix (0-1) with six catches for 111 yards, it was true freshman Kierre Brown’s 30-yard touchdown reception that turned the heads of Elon fans. That, and the blocking by the 170-pound receiver on special teams.

"If we were a little bit thinner at receiver, I’d be comfortable playing Kierre Brown almost every down," said Elon coach Pete Lembo. "He is so far ahead of where so many of our freshmen have been at that point in the past. We have to keep working to get Kierre in the lineup."

Elon plays host to Division II Shaw at 7 p.m. Saturday. Shaw is one D-II program, says Lembo, that shouldn’t be taken lightly.

"Some of these Division II teams have some outstanding athletes — a lot of transfers from big-time programs," said the Elon coach. "A lot of these programs can be really, really competitive. That’s the kind of team we have coming in Saturday night."


A fresh start

Furman sat and watched while the rest of the SoCon got started over the weekend, and Saturday, the Paladins open the season against No. 25 Colgate.

The Raiders defeated Monmouth 30-29 in their opener, and after the season they had in 2009, will continue to play with a chip on their shoulder when they head to Greenville, S.C. to face the Paladins at 2 p.m.

"To think that a team can finish 9-2 last year in the FCS and not get in the playoffs, that’s a travesty," said Furman coach Bobby Lamb. "They’re coming in here with 15 returning starters and a big win under their belt against Monmouth. It’ll be a very good football game."


Figuring things out

The Citadel (1-0) broke in a lot of new players tuning up against Division II Chowan in its 56-14 win on Saturday and, running the triple option for the first time, may have found its quarterback.

"Going into the game we felt like both freshmen quarterbacks would get to play," said Bulldogs coach Kevin Higgins. "We elected to start Ben Dupree, and he showed a little bit early. He can still be a very fine quarterback. But we put Matt (Thompson) in, and sometimes circumstances work out where you have an opportunity to make some plays. On his second ball, he threw a post for a touchdown, and I think that helped his confidence tremendously."

Thompson hit 5 of 6 passing attempts for 127 yards and three touchdowns while rushing for 71 yards on eight carries. Redshirt freshman receiver Domonic Jones (3-56, two touchdowns) also helped Higgins as he tries to figure out how to continue piecing together his offense.

"We know this is a work in progress," said Higgins. "There’s going to be some ups and downs."




: Georgia Southern (1-0) faces Navy (0-1) at 3:30 p.m. on CBS College Sports Saturday in Annapolis, Md. … Wofford (0-1) fell 31-10 at the hands of the FBS Ohio Bobcats in their season opener on the road, and host Charleston Southern Saturday at 1:30 p.m. … Samford (0-1) managed only a pair of field goals when it opened its season at Florida State with a 56-6 loss. The Bulldogs return to the road to face Northwestern State Saturday at 6 p.m. The Demons (0-1) lost to Air Force 65-21 in their opener. … N.C. State had no problems with Western Carolina in the season opener, handing the Catamounts (0-1) a 48-7 loss. The Catamounts look to get in the win column when they host the Division II Tusculum Pioneers Saturday at 6 p.m.


Matt Yogus can be reached at (912) 489-9408.

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