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Samford win over Wofford opens door for Mocs

Samford win over Wofford opens door for Mocs

Samford win over Wofford opens door for Mocs

    Thanks to Samford’s 34-27 win over Wofford on the road Saturday, the Chattanooga Mocs just got back into the conversation for the Southern Conference title.
    Chattanooga (6-2, 4-1 SoCon) has just one conference loss — a 23-21 decision at Georgia Southern on Sept. 28 — and still has Samford (6-2, 4-0) and Wofford (5-3, 4-1) on the schedule. If the Mocs win out, they will finally find their elusive bid to the Football Championship Subdivision playoffs.
    Chattanooga coach Russ Huesman has long talked about his team winning the games it was supposed to, but falling short over and over in close contests.
Huesman thinks the Mocs turned the corner with a comeback, 28-24 win over The Citadel on Saturday.
    “We haven’t, throughout our time here in five years, won a game like that where we had to come back,” Huesman said Tuesday during the weekly SoCon teleconference. “A lot was on the line in the process.”
Before facing Wofford and Samford, Chattanooga must get past Appalachian State. The Mocs visit the Mountaineers on Saturday for a 3:30 p.m., kickoff.
ASU (2-6, 2-3) is coming off a dominant 38-14 win over Georgia Southern.
    “They looked like one of the best teams in the league this past week, no question about that,” Huesman said about Appalachian State.

Holding serve
    Samford is the other team in the SoCon with destiny in its own hands. The Bulldogs overcame four turnovers, including three interceptions by quarterback Andy Summerlin, in its win over Wofford on Saturday.
    “If you would have told me before we kicked off that we were going to turn the ball over four times against them and still win the ballgame, I’d have told you that you were crazy,” Samford coach Pat Sullivan said.
    The Bulldogs will look to stay unbeaten Saturday when they travel to Charleston, S.C., to face The Citadel (2-6, 2-4) at 2 p.m.
    “Right now where we are, we’ve got a bullseye on our back,” Sullivan said. “Now it’s going to be a situation where we’ll see how we handle that.”

The end of a rivalry?
    Furman head coach Bruce Fowler was there when Georgia Southern (4-3, 2-3) won its first national title in 1985 against the Paladins.
    He’ll be there when the rivals face off Saturday at 1 p.m., in Paulson Stadium, for the last time before GSU leaves the SoCon and joins the Sun Belt Conference in 2014.
    “I think about my history in it, going back to 1985 -- I was a graduate assistant at the time -- and we played Georgia Southern in the national championship game out there in Tacoma, Washington, against coach (Erk) Russell’s team,” Fowler said. “We’ve had so many great games against them over the years.”
    The Eagles have been decimated by injuries throughout 2013, but that doesn’t change anything for head coach Jeff Monken.
    “I don’t make any excuses for who’s in there or who’s out,” Monken said. “The expectation is the same. We’ve got to play good enough to win, and we didn’t do that on Saturday. Hopefully we’ll find a way to respond and play better this Saturday, and play good enough to win.”
    The Eagles will have to play better on defense after allowing 381 passing yards against sophomore Appalachian State quarterback Kameron Bryant on Saturday.
    “They pretty much just threw it at will,” Monken said.

Around the league
    Wofford will have a week off before facing Chattanooga on Nov. 9. … Western Carolina (2-7, 1-4) snapped a 26-game SoCon losing streak with a 27-24 overtime win over Elon last Saturday. The Catamounts have a week off before facing Georgia Southern on Nov. 9. … Elon (2-7, 1-4) plays host to The Citadel on Saturday at 1:30 p.m.

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

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