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Eagle fullbacks going deep into depth chart

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Eagle fullbacks going deep into depth chart

Everybody around Georgia Southern’s football program knows the name Dominique Swope.

Saturday in a 45-13 win at Western Carolina, freshman James Dean and junior William Banks, Swope’s backup fullbacks, made sure to throw their names into the conversation.

The pair combined for 196 yards and two touchdowns, leading the Eagles to 202 rushing yards in the fourth-quarter alone, and helping set the fourth-highest rushing total in GSU history at 614 yards on the ground.

For his efforts, Dean was named Southern Conference Freshman of the week with 95 yards on just five carries, all in the fourth quarter.

All that after Swope took care of his business, rushing for a score in his sixth-straight game and finishing with 117 yards on the ground.

"We’re very deep in all of our positions," said Dean. "We practice out here every day, and we go all the way to the fourth string getting reps with the ones on offense. We’re all prepared, we all train the same and we all have the same responsibilities. It’s just the mindset of knowing what you’ve got to do and going out there and executing."

After scoring his first-career touchdown, a 45-yard run up the gut, Dean nearly got a little too excited.

"It looked like I tripped," Dean said, "but I collapsed because I was so excited. I just threw my hands up and thanked the Lord. Everybody piled on top of me. That dog pile was the best experience of my life."

Dean, who scored five touchdowns in a game against South Effingham as a senior at Glynn Academy in 2011, said that one topped them all.

"I’ve scored a few touchdowns in high school, but I don’t know," he said. "College, Southern Conference competition, it’s just another level."


Controlling destiny

Saturday, when No. 7 Georgia Southern (4-1, 3-1 Southern Conference) plays host to No. 5 Wofford (5-0, 3-0 Southern Conference) at 6 p.m. in Paulson Stadium, the game will have playoff and SoCon title implications.

What else is new?

"Every time we play Wofford, it feels like a playoff game," GSU quarterback Jerick McKinnon said.

Last Saturday, The Citadel, which defeated GSU on Sept. 8, lost its second SoCon game, a 38-7 decision at Samford. That means the Eagles can win the SoCon’s automatic playoff bid and at least a share of the SoCon title by winning out in the league.

"It feels good knowing we still have a chance to win the conference, but we know we put ourselves in a bad situation after the Citadel game earlier in the season," McKinnon said. "It’s good to know that you control your own destiny, but at the same time, you can’t worry about extraneous things like that. You’ve got to focus on the task at hand."


Straightening out

The kicking game continued to have problems for GSU against Western Carolina with three kickoffs — two by Luke Cherry and one by Ryan Nowicki —sailed out of bounds for a penalty.

Of GSU’s six penalties in the game, five came on special teams.

"Any opportunity we have to gain yards on any of those plays is so huge," said GSU coach Jeff Monken. "We dropped a kickoff in the end zone. We had some penetration on the field goal that got blocked, we had a holding penalty on the punt return and a block in the back. Those are aggressive penalties. It’s not one where you’re jumping offsides or lining up in the neutral zone. Those are the most frustrating."


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

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