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Eagles hit new low

    Of Georgia Southern’s 14 possessions Saturday, one drive pretty much summed up the Eagles’ day.
    It began when GSU’s defense came up big in the third quarter, halting Wofford on fourth-and-one at the Terrier 10. The Eagles, standing just 10 yards away from an opportunity to cut the visitor’s 21-10 lead to four points, sputtered and stalled at the 11 three plays later.
    No problem, they’d settle for a field goal.
    But that didn’t work either as Patrick Bolen’s 28-yard attempt into the wind sailed wide left.
    “That’s about the way it’s going right now,” first-year Eagle coach Brian VanGorder said. “It was ridiculous. Then we have a chance, we throw it down there and we got two guys wrestling for the ball. That’s just about the way it’s going. The execution level is not good. The confidence level is not good, and there doesn’t seem to be anything really pulling us out of that rut.”
    After the offensive embarrassment, the game still wasn’t out of reach, and GSU had another chance to make something happen when Dan Jordan’s 57-yard punt pinned Wofford to its own 1 early in the final quarter. The Eagle defense had kept things respectable until that point, but the Terriers put the game away on their first play, a 99-yard TD haul by Michael Hobbs.
    “That’s the sign of a bad team when you have those kinds of inconsistencies,” VanGorder said. “We’ve had that all year, and that’s why we are 3-6.”
    The Eagles appear to have reached a new low after falling to the Terriers 28-10 Saturday, their third straight loss. Does VanGorder fear he might be losing the attention and focus of his team?
    “I don’t work on fear,” he said. “I don’t have any fear. I’ve been doing this a long time, been a lot of places, so fear is not something that’s a part of what we are doing.”
    But no doubt, this losing season — just the second in GSU’s modern era — has been hard on a Georgia Southern team that won a total 17 games and made a pair of playoff appearances in the last two years.
    “It’s tough for us,” senior linebacker John Mohring said. “I don’t know what it is. The scheme, everything looks good on paper. We have stats, we have everything, but we are not picking up victories and putting points on the board. We’ve just got to keep fighting and something will come our way.”
    Georgia Southern’s lack of offense was the biggest problem Saturday when the Eagles were shutout in the second half for the third time this year. Junior Jayson Foster provided a spark when he directed a few plays at quarterback, most notably an option to Chris Covington, who hauled 57 yards for the Eagles’ lone TD of the game.
    Having Foster at the helm clearly worked and delighted the fans, but VanGorder said he didn’t want to continue to use Foster there despite the ongoing troubles of starter Travis Clark. Instead, the Eagles went with backup quarterback Chris Rogers for their last three possessions of the game. Rogers completed 6 of 15 attempts for 49 yards and one interception and ran four times for a loss of two yards.
    “(Foster’s) role at the quarterback position is just too minimal to put him in (late in the game),” VanGorder said. “My thing was Chris had a good week, did some things, (so) let’s see if he can do any of it in a game. And he didn’t do well.”

Whose house?
    Saturday’s loss was Georgia Southern’s fourth defeat at home this season. The Eagles are 2-4 at Paulson Stadium in 2006, the worst home mark in GSU’s modern era.
    Georgia Southern has a rich tradition of dominating at home and won 89.2 percent (141-17) of games played at Paulson prior to this year. Former coach Erk Russell lost at Paulson just once over six years, while Tim Stowers fell six times in six seasons, Paul Johnson twice in five years and Mike Sewak dropped five home games over a four-year span.
 
Up Next
    Georgia Southern concludes Southern Conference play Saturday with a 3:30 p.m. game at Furman televised live on CSS. The Paladins are coming off a 24-13 victory at Elon. Jerome Felton rushed for two touchdowns and 25 yards on 10 carries for Furman, while Cedrick Gipson added 122 yards and one score on 20 tries.
    The Paladins (7-3, 5-1) have already lost three games this season, meaning Furman’s playoff hopes are pinned to the outcome of the GSU game.
    The Eagles (3-6, 2-4) lead the all-time series with the Paladins 12-5 and won 27-24 last year in Statesboro. GSU has dropped two of the last three games in Greenville, S.C., with the Eagles’ last win at Paladin Stadium coming in 2002 when GSU hammered Furman, 42-21.

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

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