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A new wrinkle, same result

Furman downs Georgia Southern, 13-10, despite Jayson Foster playing at quarterback

    GREENVILLE, S.C. – Wide left.
    Furman fans will probably chant those two words all weekend.
    Georgia Southern junior Bo Galvin attempted a game-tying, 32-yard field goal with 51 seconds left on the clock, but the kick sailed wide left, securing Furman’s 13-10 victory over the Eagles Saturday before 13,287 fans at Paladin Stadium. The victory most likely assured the Paladins (8-3, 6-1) an at-large bid to the Division I-AA playoffs.
    “I think what happened was I just didn’t hit it real smooth,” Galvin said. “As far as hitting the ball, I lined up everything straight. The wind was blowing a little, but it had nothing to do whatsoever with me kicking. I feel like I let down our team.”
    It was the fourth straight loss for Georgia Southern, which fell to 3-7 and 2-5 on the season. The Eagles had their chances, but were shutout in the second half for the second consecutive week and the fourth time this season.
    “We had some opportunities, and obviously we just couldn’t deliver,” Eagle coach Brian VanGorder said. “That’s kind of been the story of the season for us.”
    GSU’s loss clouded another noteworthy performance by junior playmaker Jayson Foster, who lined up under center more times than he has all season. VanGorder said earlier in the week he wanted to “stay the course with our plan” but the Eagles did just the opposite, steering away from slumping quarterback Travis Clark the majority of the game. Foster was at the helm for most of the plays with Clark rotating in for occasional passing attempts.
    VanGorder said the decision to give Foster more snaps stemmed from a previous injury to Clark, not from a desire to spark Southern’s struggling offense. The coach wouldn’t disclose the nature of Clark’s injury.
    “Travis has been playing injured, and he didn’t think he’d be able to go,” VanGorder said. “I thought maybe the next best option was to use Jayson at quarterback.”
    Foster came through, rushing for a game-high 157 yards and Georgia Southern’s lone touchdown. That score was an 83-yard sprint in the second quarter — the longest TD by a visiting team at Paladin Stadium.
    It was Foster’s first 100-yard rushing game this season and the 11th of his career.
    “If you give him a little space, he can make it a big play quickly,” VanGorder said. “We are struggling right now on offense, so anything like (Foster’s TD run) for us is big. But we need more than Jayson and an offense that can deliver. That’s been the story of our season. We just don’t have those kinds of players right now. And that’s OK because we have to win as a team.”
    Georgia Southern led 10-7 at the half, but Furman answered quickly as Scott Beckler nailed a 21-yard field goal on the Paladins’ first possession of the third quarter. The home team took advantage of a costly GSU turnover and jumped ahead 13-10 on its next possession when Beckler kicked a 37 yarder. Furman’s drive was set up when senior Jeremy Blocker recovered a Lamar Lewis fumble at the Paladin 27.
    Furman was forced to turn to its defense when starting QB Renaldo Gray left game with a re-injured ankle after being sacked by Brandon Daniel with less than a minute remaining in the third quarter.
    “Basically in the fourth quarter, I just looked at our defense and said, ‘We are going to put it in your hands,’ because we lost our quarterback and our option threat,” Furman coach Bobby Lamb said. “We came up big in the special teams game and our defense was just tremendous.”
    VanGorder tabbed GSU’s defensive performance the best of the year. Furman’s 13 points were the fewest allowed by the Eagles this season. Senior John Mohring led the unit with a game-high eight tackles, while Larry Beard added seven and Carson Hill tallied six.
    Galvin hit a 40-yard field goal — the first of his career — 3:57 before the break to give the Eagles the lead at the half. It was GSU’s longest field goal since Jonathan Dudley nailed a 40-yarder against Furman on Nov. 6, 2004.
    Foster’s TD sprint came 33 seconds after Furman took a 7-0 lead on a 19-yard TD pass from Gray to Brantley Kendall. The Paladins kept the scoring drive alive by converting two third-and-longs, including a 32-yard screen pass from Gray to R.J. Webb on third-and-10.
    The Eagles conclude their season with a 1 p.m. game against Central Arkansas (7-3) Saturday at Paulson Stadium.
    Alex Pellegrino can be reached at (912) 489-9413.

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