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My Take: Terriers the better team... just barely

Back in the day when this thing was rolling, it usually appeared that the only team that could beat Georgia Southern was Georgia Southern.

Looking at the beginning of the decade the losses were few and far between for the Eagles, and when they happened, you could always seem to pinpoint exactly why.

In 2000 at Furman, it was because Adrian Peterson was out with injury.

In 2001 at East Tennessee State, it was missed field goals and fumbles.

In 2002 against Wofford and Delaware, it was a new coach, a new quarterback and a new B-back all getting used to the transition.

All four losses in 2003? Lack of depth.

In 2004 at Furman? Leaving timeouts on the scoreboard.

And so fourth.

Things have changed a lot since then, and for the most obvious answer as to why, just ask Wofford.

Since 2000, the Terriers have played in Paulson Stadium six times against five different coaches and beaten four of them.

Yeah, the Eagles used to lose only by shooting themselves in the foot, but after all the transitioning, turmoil and inconsistency of this last decade, it’s obviously gotten to the point where, even taking into consideration all of the crazy things that happened in Saturday’s 33-31 loss to the Terriers, the Eagles just got flat-out beat by a team that was just, well, better than them.

It’s very difficult to find any other excuse, really.

No. 1 — They should have kicked the field goal.

Really? From 55 yards away with no wind? Adrian Mora’s career long is 50 yards — ironically enough at Wofford in 2009 and even more ironically breaking his previous high of 48 set on the same day in the same direction on that windy field in Spartanburg, S.C. — so it’s easy to see why a 55 yarder was out of the question.

So the Eagles tried to get closer. And Wofford made the plays to keep that from happening.

No. 2 — They shouldn’t have gone for two two-point conversions.

Okay, this one’s a tough call, especially considering the margin of defeat, but I’d argue that anybody who said that they shouldn’t be going for it, at the time the conversions were taking place, had to have had the clairvoyance to know that Wofford was going to miss — not one — but two extra points in the second half.

And let’s be honest, nobody predicted that.

So aside from those two situations, what are we really dealing with?

Georgia Southern got beat by a team that executed and played better, and if it weren’t for two punts down to the 1-yard line resulting in nine defensive points, a fake punt, an onside kick recovery, a one-handed circus catch by Tyler Sumner, several drive-extending penalties by the Terriers and a 78-yard run by Darreion Robinson, GSU wouldn’t even have had a chance in the fourth quarter to begin with.

But those things happened, and when you combine that with the fact that this is a first-year coaching staff (again), a brand-new system (again) and a bunch of underclassmen on the football field (quadruple again), and the fact that the team is dealing with injuries — most notably resulting in the fourth-string fullback being asked to carry the load — you have to drop the excuses and quit playing the blame game.

Because sometimes, the other team is just better than you are that day, and that’s all there is to it.

The good news is that injuries heal, missed assignments get corrected, schemes get adjusted and, even after an emotional loss like Saturday’s, the sun still comes up on a division that now allows 20 teams into its playoff bracket.

The bad news is, the Eagles have to go to Chattanooga in four days, and the Mocs are just as capable of beating anyone in the Southern Conference as Wofford is.

 

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

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