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Wofford, option whip Eagles

Wofford runs past GSU

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    Apparently, there is an option.
    And on Saturday, Wofford’s option offense ran over Georgia Southern as the Terriers cruised to a 28-10 win before a season-low 12,486 fans at Paulson Stadium.
    The loss — the Eagles’ third straight and sixth of the season— guaranteed just the second losing season in Georgia Southern’s modern era.
    The defeat was the fourth home loss this year under first-year Eagle coach Brian VanGorder. Prior to Saturday, no Georgia Southern coach had lost four home games in a season, not even Frank Ellwood, the Eagles’ interim coach in 1996 - the only other losing season in school history.
    Georgia Southern has lost four of the last five meetings with Wofford.
    “At this very second (the team) is disgusted,” senior center Lance Wayne said. “But we all know there’s no give up in us. We are going to keep working hard at practice and keep pushing.”
    Earlier this year, VanGorder boldly stated “There is no option,” at the end of a preseason television commercial, referring to the departure of GSU’s famed triple-option offense he ditched prior to the season. The Terriers run a version of that offense and used it to out-gain the Eagles 327-284. Wofford had 284 rushing yards to Georgia Southern’s 151.
    GSU’s offense continued to struggle behind sophomore Travis Clark, who was 11 of 21 for 84 yards. It was the third straight rough outing for Clark, who has completed just 38 of his last 89 attempts (42.7 percent). Chris Covington led the ground attack, rushing for 77 yards and one score on 10 tries, while Lamar Lewis added 55 yards on 16 carries. The Eagles were shut out in the second half.
    “We knew they were struggling offensively a little bit,” Wofford coach Mike Ayers said. “They had some situations with their quarterback not being as consistent sometimes. We were physical enough, and we were thin on the defensive line. We have two linebackers playing defensive line. The kids just competed really, really hard. Our coaches did a fabulous job getting them ready for a challenge coming to Statesboro. It is always, always one of the toughest places to play.”
    The Terriers (5-4, 4-2) pulled away thanks to a pair of huge second-half plays, Brandon Berry’s 92-yard punt return for a score and a 99-yard touchdown run by Michael Hobbs. Hobbs’ run — the longest rushing TD in Wofford and Paulson Stadium history — provided the final margin with 12:56 to play. Hobbs ran for a game-high 111 yards on six carries.
    Georgia Southern (3-6, 2-4) led 10-7 at the half, but Wofford bounced back quickly when quarterback Josh Collier ran for a 16-yard TD on the Terrier’s first drive of the third quarter.
    “You’ve got to give them credit, and they’ve been good this year,” VanGorder said. “You look at what they’ve done. You look at their scores. They’re very fundamentally sound, their kids play hard, they’re well-coached. They’re a tough group.”
     The GSU defense gave the Eagle offense a huge opportunity late in the third quarter, halting Wofford on fourth-and-one at the Terrier 10. The Eagles took over on downs, but GSU’s offense couldn’t take advantage of the gift and was forced to settle for a field goal. However, Patrick Bolen’s 28-yard attempt sailed wide left, his second miss Saturday. Bolen also failed on a 35-yard attempt on GSU’s first possession of the game.
    Ironically, Georgia Southern’s only touchdown came on a 57-yard run with former option quarterback Jayson Foster under center. Covington took a handoff midway through the second quarter and found a seam between the tackles while the defense followed Foster and Lewis on the option fake to the outside. It was the sophomore’s longest TD run of the season, his eighth rushing TD of the year and his first trip to the endzone since the North Dakota State game on Oct. 7.
    Georgia Southern’s defense played well early, holding Wofford without a first down on three of the Terriers’ six first-half possessions. Senior John Mohring posted a team-high 10 tackles, while Dedrick Bynam added nine.
    The Terriers’ scored just once in the first 30 minutes on a two-yard run by halfback Kevious Johnson with 3:10 remaining in the first quarter. Colby Harris gained 36 yards on a reverse to set up the TD.
    The Eagles answered on their next drive with a 24-yard field goal by Bolen.
    Georgia Southern concludes Southern Conference play with a 3:30 p.m. game at Furman Saturday.

    Alex Pellegrino can be reached at (912) 489-9413.
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