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Eagles to play UNC in '09
Georgia Southern quarterback Antonio Henton throws a pass against Austin Peay in the 2008 home opener. - photo by SCOTT BRYANT/file
    Friday, Georgia Southern released its 2009 football schedule, which is highlighted by five home games and a road matchup with the Atlantic Coast Conference’s North Carolina Tar Heels on Saturday, Oct. 10 in Chapel Hill, N.C.
    For a team that’s only 2008 road loss came at the hands of the Georgia Bulldogs, a six-game road slate may not be such a bad thing for GSU.
    “Going on the road, who knows?” said Eagles coach Chris Hatcher. “We played better on the road last year than we played at home. You can take it for what it’s worth. We were 4-0 in the (Southern) Conference on the road and 0-4 at home. Maybe it’s a good thing we have more away games than we do home games this year.”
    The matchup with UNC will mark the first time the two teams have met and the third year in a row Georgia Southern will play an FBS team.
    The Eagles ended the 2007 season with a 42-34 loss at Colorado State before kicking off 2008 in Athens, dropping a 45-21 decision.
    “Last year, even though we got beat pretty handily by Georgia, that was a fun environment,” Hatcher said. “It had been a long time since I’d coached in an environment like that and I think the guys really enjoyed the opportunity — we didn’t enjoy the outcome — but we enjoyed the opportunity.
    “Maybe this year (against UNC) we’ve got a few more guys coming back, and we can go up there and, like always, try to win the game — go up there and try to play a little bit better than we did against Georgia this past year.”
    The Eagles will host four SoCon home games this season — Western Carolina (Sept. 19), Chattanooga (Oct. 17), Furman (Homecoming, Nov. 14) and the season finale against the Citadel to close the regular season the following Saturday.
    Georgia Southern snagged road victories against each of those opponents a year ago.
    The SoCon road schedule starts at Elon on Sept. 26, which will kick start three straight weeks in the Carolinas. The following week, GSU travels to Spartanburg, S.C. to take on Wofford before concluding the road stretch in Chapel Hill. They travel to Samford Nov. 7.
    The season starts at home against the University of Albany (N.Y.) on Sept. 7. It will be Albany’s first trip to Paulson Stadium and the first time the two teams have met. The Great Danes won the Northeast Conference going unbeaten in conference play last season.
    The following Saturday (Sept. 12) the Eagles travel to Brookings, S.D., to take on South Dakota State. Georgia Southern is 3-0 against the Jackrabbits all-time, last defeating them at home 41-38 on the strength of a 54-yard Jesse Hartley field goal as time expired in 2007.
    “Those Dakota teams are very difficult to play, especially on the road,” said Hatcher. “I see that as being a huge challenge. We’ve got to be ready each week, but that and the North Carolina game will probably make us have one of the toughest schedules in the FCS.”
    With another huge signing class — the Eagles signed 30 this season — there’s a lot of question marks heading into spring camp. Like the 2008 season, the depth chart will likely be up in the air until the first week of September.
    “I have yet to figure out our team, but we’re going to try to win no matter where we play,” Hatcher said. “That’s our goal each and every week, but it’s yet to be seen. We’ve got a lot of work to do before we’re ready to play a football game.”
    The SDSU game is slated for a 7 p.m. kickoff. All other game times have yet to be announced.