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Eagles face grudge match

Eagles face grudge match

Eagles face grudge match

Wofford fullback Eric Breitenstein, t...


Wofford quarterback Mitch Allen is only a junior, but he has gained plenty of experience in dealing with adversity.
    As a freshman Allen and the Terriers made the FCS playoffs after compiling a 9-2 record season record that included a 7-1 record in the Southern Conference.
    That one league loss was a doozy though:  a 70-24 shellacking on Halloween Night at Appalachian State in a game which was televised nationally by ESPN.
    A win in the game would have given the Terriers the SoCon title outright. Instead it was the Mountaineers who laid claim to what, at that time, was their fourth straight league crown. That streak is now at six.
    Last year everything went wrong in what was a highly anticipated season. Injury upon injury depleted Coach Mike Ayers’ team and the end result was a 3-8 year.
    This year, despite 18 returning starters, nine on each side of the ball, the Terriers were pre-season picks to finish sixth, one spot ahead of Georgia Southern.
    However, the Terriers bounced back to tie App for the SoCon championship, but again it was denied an outright title due to a 43-13 hammering at the hands of the Mountaineers in the next to last game of the season.
    Appalachian, having lost to Georgia Southern, needed to win to get a share of the crown, and they did it in most convincing fashion.
    Allen said it was a defining moment for his team.
    “It was a blessing in disguise for us,” Allen said. “Getting your butt kicked isn’t the best thing, but when you can turn it into a positive that’s what you like to do.”
    Wofford rebounded the next week to beat Chattanooga, 45-14, to get a playoff berth, and last Saturday went on the road to defeat favored Jacksonville State, 17-14.
    That earned the Terriers (10-2) a rematch with Georgia Southern (9-4) at 2 p.m. on today at Spartanburg, S.C., in one of four FCS quarterfinal games.
    “That (loss to App) was a wakeup call,” Allen said. “It made us realize we need to step up our play, both in practice and games.
    “That game was played at a level we were not familiar with,” Allen said. “But, it’s a level we’ll see from here on out in the playoffs. It was a faster level, and made us realize we has to practice all the time at full speed as it if was game.”
    Allen, like Georgia Southern’s Jaybo Shaw, will not overwhelm anyone with his statistics, but he operates the Terrier option flawlessly.
    “He and Jaybo are a lot alike,” Ayers said. “They’re both winners. Jaybo is the glue that has held Georgia Southern together, and got them on track.
    “Both quarterbacks are similar from an athletic standpoint,” Ayers said. “Both throw the ball well, and they’re shifty enough to make people miss when they run the ball.”
    Allen has rushed for 671 yards and four touchdowns while completing 37 of 72 passes for 711 yards and seven touchdowns.
    One of those touchdown passes came in the Terriers’ 33-31 regular season win at Georgia Southern, a 52 yard completion to a wide open Brenton Bersin.
    Allen had one of his better nights of the season against the Eagles as he ran for 52 yards while hitting on four of eight passes for 106 yards in a game in which Wofford scored with 5 minutes, 52 seconds remaining to pull out the win.
    “A familiar opponent …it’s very exciting,” Allen said. “Georgia Southern earned its spot in the playoffs.
    “They’ve been on a roll,” Allen said. “They’ll come in here on fire.
    “They’ve gotten a lot better since we played them, but so have we.”
    Allen is the brains of the Wofford attack in more ways than one. The 6-foot-1, 190 pound junior from Cincinnati, Ohio, has a 3.95 GPA as a physics major.
    Leading the Wofford ground game is fullback Eric Breitenstein who leads the SoCon in rushing with 1,537 yards and 22 touchdowns.
    Breitenstein suffered a sprained shoulder last week against Jacksonville State, but Ayers said he will be good to go against GSU.
    Anchoring the defense is junior tackle Ameet Pall who is the SoCon Defensive Player of the Year.
    The Terriers rank second in the league to Georgia Southern in scoring defense, rushing defense and total defense.

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