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No second half magic this time for GSU

    Throughout the first half of Saturday’s Southern-Conference opener against the Chattanooga Mocs, Georgia Southern fans were exposed to some familiar sights.
    In what appeared to be a carbon copy of the previous two games, Jayson Foster looked spectacular running the ball, the Eagle running game as a whole chugged right along with some big plays and some quick passes mixed in, the Eagle defense struggled on third downs, UTC kept it close, and the Eagles trailed at halftime by a score of 17-14.
    No big deal, right?
    In the previous two contests, the Eagles looked a little off before halftime. They trailed West Georgia 21-10 heading into the break and led by seven over Coastal Carolina in a hard-fought first half. In both instances, the GSU offense exploded in the second half and never looked back. The UWG team was worn down and its offense was exhausted, so the Eagles blasted them for 35 un-answered points and turned it into a blowout. Against the Chanticleers, GSU turned into the Jayson Foster show and all he did was score six times on the ground in what turned out to be a shootout. Coastal Carolina just could not keep up.
    So there were the Eagles, trailing at halftime to a team that — by all previous accounts — was inferior.
    Ahhh, but Georgia Southern is a second-half team this year. Fans weren’t worried. They sat back, watched the high school marching bands that were invited to participate in the halftime show and enjoyed the fireworks that followed. It was almost the second half — time for the Eagles to shine. Right?
    As Lee Corso would say, “Not so fast my friend.”
    Unlike the two teams the Eagles knocked off in the previous weeks, those Mocs came to play two halves of football. They showed up in the second half, they converted third down after third down and they just kept plugging away.
    It started off like the other games did in their respective third quarters. The Eagles quickly jumped out to a 28-17 lead, and everything was going according to plan. The Mocs, however, never quit.
    Foster has already proven that he cannot be stopped. The Mocs played it smart. They knew that they weren’t going to be able to stop the Eagle QB from running that football, but they slowed him down, and they did it well.
    210 yards and 3 rushing touchdowns is hardly a bad game. That’s a great game no matter who you are. But UTC did enough. They took away the middle, kept the edges guarded and took Foster’s legs out of the game as much as they could.
    It got the job done.
    It is no secret that Foster is the “X” factor on GSU’s offense. Just ask the 18,000 plus fans that collectively gasped when he got up limping after a third-down run near the goal line. With Jayson out of the picture, it would be a whole new ballgame.
    Fortunately, the Eagles kicked a game-tying field goal and Foster returned to the game seemingly no worse for the wear, but when the game went to overtime, all Chattanooga had to do was expose that GSU secondary one more time, and that was that. Foster got forced into a fourth-and-long, seemed to be making up his mind on whether to run or throw, sailed a pass  into the end zone that went just a little too high, and the Mocs grabbed their first ever win in Paulson Stadium.   
    The SoCon just got interesting.
    Appalachian State lost to Wofford and, with its win over GSU, Chattanooga is now 1-0 in the league.
    With a lot of season left, GSU has seen where some of its weaknesses lie. With a first-year head coach that claims fame to an overall record of 78-13, things could be a lot worse.    The Chattanooga loss put an end to the idea that Jayson Foster would single-handedly carry the Eagles to a championship, but that’s not all bad.
    The Mocs may have exposed some Eagle weaknesses, but it was also revealed that the Eagles have talent all over the field. A slew of running backs and receivers know what to do when they have the ball, and the defense made a lot of fantastic plays. In a SoCon that seems like it is anyone’s to win, it is just a matter of time before GSU tightens the loose screws and shows the Eagle faithful what it is really made of.

    Matt Yogus can be reached at (912) 489-9404.

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