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Eagles air it out for win
Clark and McCutchen team up for record day
14 passes again 5 col col
Quarterback Travis Clark set a school record with 375 passing yards during Saturday’s 28-21 win over Elon in Paulson Stadium. - photo by MICHELLE BOAEN/staff

gsu against elon

Watch highlights from Saturday's game with Elon.

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    Brian VanGorder finally got what he was looking for.
    Georgia Southern (3-3, 2-1) played its most complete game of the season, Travis Clark threw for a career-high 375 yards and Lamar Lewis scored the go-ahead touchdown with 1:03 remaining to lift the Eagles to a 28-21 victory over Elon Saturday at Paulson Stadium.
    “I’ve been saying that we wanted to get four quarters of football, and we’ve been inconsistent until today,” the first-year coach said. “Not that today was a perfect day, but it’s certainly good to see our guys concentrating and focused for 60 minutes. That’s what it took for us to win today.”
    Clark capitalized on Elon’s (3-3, 1-2) commitment to stop GSU’s running game, throwing for the third most yards in school history. It was the most passing yards for Georgia Southern in 21 years. The Eagles were held to 59 yards on the ground.
    Georgia Southern’s receivers also came up big as senior Reggie McCutchen set a new school record with 191 yards on seven receptions. McCutchen became Georgia Southern’s first 100-yard receiver in a game since the late Teddy Craft caught five passes for 108 yards against Western Carolina Oct. 9, 2004.
    Junior Jayson Foster tied a school record for receptions with nine catches for 84 yards and one touchdown.
    “We thought we could get them on the run, but we came out here today and they just stuffed us,” Clark said. “They put people in the box, and we just had to go to the air. Our receivers were on the same page, and our line was on the same page with who they were supposed to block. It was just a great day.”
    VanGorder said the biggest play of the game was a 40-yard kickoff return by Foster after the Phoenix tied the game on true freshman Karlos Sullivan’s 32-yard interception return for a touchdown with 2:21 remaining. Foster’s return set up Georgia Southern’s game-winning drive, which was capped with Lewis’ 10-yard run.
    “Jayson’s kickoff return sparked everybody,” VanGorder said. “Everybody at that moment in time knew it was time to seize the game and take advantage of that return. I think that was a situation there where momentum had changed greatly, and he quickly moved the momentum back on our side.”
    Branden Daniel led the Georgia Southern defense with eight tackles, including four solo stops, two tackles for loss and one sack. John Mohring, Ronald Wiggins and Jason Earwood each recorded seven tackles, while Larry Beard had a pair of tackles, one interception and two pass breakups.
    “We really came out with a different mindset this game,” Beard said. “We thought we were going to dominate, which we did. We executed it. We’ve been practicing all week to stop big plays and stop them on third down.”
    Trailing 14-13, Georgia Southern took a 21-14 edge early in the final period after Clark hit Foster on a 4-yard touchdown pass and then found him in the back of the end zone for the two-point conversion.
    Elon owned a 14-10 lead at halftime after a 22-yard pass from Pope to Terrell Hudgins 3:43 before the break. Georgia Southern pulled to 14-13 midway through the third quarter on a 39-yard field goal by Patrick Bolen – Georgia Southern’s longest in two years.
    Beard set up Georgia Southern’s first touchdown when he intercepted a Pope pass early in the second quarter, sending the Eagle offense onto the field at the Elon 35. Georgia Southern scored three plays later, taking a 10-7 lead when Lewis broke right and sprinted 10 yards for the score.
    Lewis rushed for a team-high 42 yards and two touchdowns on 11 carries. Chris Covington was held to eight yards on 11 totes and didn’t score, ending his streak of five straight games with a rushing touchdown.
    Bolen nailed a 21-yard field goal on Georgia Southern’s second possession to put the Eagles up 3-0. The Phoenix answered on their next drive, moving 58 yards on six plays and taking a 7-3 edge when Pope hit Hudgins in the corner of the end zone on an 18-yard touchdown pass.
    “It was a close one that we had the chances to win,” first-year Elon coach Pete Lembo said. “I was real proud of how the kids played in the first half. We came out ready to play, made some adjustments early and really went toe-to-toe with these guys the first 30 minutes. In the second half, we just didn’t make enough plays to win in an environment like this against a very physical and athletic team.”
    The Eagles conclude a three-game homestand next Saturday, hosting defending national champion Appalachian State for homecoming. Kickoff is noon.

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