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Eagles edge out UTC in thriller
Mocs charge late, but GSU holds in barn-burner
100811 GSU FOOTBALL 04
Georgia Southern fullback Robert Brown breaks an attempted tackle by Chattanoga defensive back Kadeem Wise on a 48-yard run in the fourth quarter at Paulson Stadium Saturday.


The No. 24 Chattnooga Mocs scored 20 points in the second half, but they needed 22.

The Mocs went for a two-point conversion with less than two minutes remaining in the game, and Georgia Southern kept them out of the end zone to preserve a 28-27 win Saturday afternoon at Paulson Stadium.

After rushing for his third touchdown of the day, UTC backup quarterback Terrell Robinson looked to pass on the two-point try, but defensive end John Douglas and linebacker Josh Rowe closed in on him, forcing an incomplete pass.

The No. 24 Mocs (2-4, 0-3 Southern Conference) came into the game averaging only 92 rushing yards per game, and torched No. 1-ranked Georgia Southern (5-0, 4-0) for 238 rushing yards.

But with the game on the line, it was pass protection that did the Mocs in.

"Thank goodness," said Douglas. "We pulled it out, so I'll take it."

Robinson, who rushed for 114 yards on 21 carries and passed for 62, took over the game in the second quarter when UTC starting quarterback B.J. Coleman (2 for 5, 25 yards) left with a shoulder injury.

The Eagles (5-0, 4-0) had spent the week preparing for Coleman, a pocket passer averaging over 250 passing yards per game.

"That was a complete surprise," said GSU cornerback Laron Scott about facing a running quarterback, "and he was actually throwing some pretty good balls when he did throw. It was tough to contain that guy."

The Eagles led 21-7 at the break, but the Mocs played keepaway in the final two quarters, limiting GSU to only three possessions and rushing for 209 of their 238 rushing yards in the second half.

"They didn't get any credit for being able to run the football before this week, and we knew they could," said GSU coach Jeff Monken. "They committed to it in the second half and they ran that thing right down our throats."

The first Chattanooga drive of the third quarter resulted in a 20-yard touchdown run by running back J.J. Jackson that cut the Eagles' lead to 21-14.

Georgia Southern tried to extend its next drive with a fake-punt, direct snap to defensive end Josh Gebhardt on 4th-and-3 from the 45-yard line, but the Mocs sniffed it out.

The Eagles held serve when Scott picked off a Robinson pass at the GSU 3-yard line.

The GSU running game netted only 44 yards on the next 14 plays, forcing a punt that set up the longest Chattanooga drive of the season

The Mocs caught plenty of breaks during the 16-play, 80-yard drive that tied the game. Safety Deion Stanley dropped an interception and the Mocs converted two fourth downs including a nine-yard run by Joel Bradford on a successful fake punt.

Robinson capped off the drive with his second rushing touchdown from 11 yards out.

"It was just a lot of things," Monken said about the drive. "But when you overcome adversity like that and are still able to win, you hope that it's because your guys believe and that they're fighting all the way to the end. We could have lost the football game, and I wouldn't feel any different - that our guys weren't fighting. I think our guys were fighting and trying."

Excluding three kneel-downs at the end of the game by quarterback Jaybo Shaw, the Eagles ran only five fourth-quarter plays.

They made all five count.

"We knew we were going to need one more score," said Shaw. "That's what we talked about on the sideline. When we got the ball back, Robert [Brown] made a huge play."

The drive went 66 yards and was highlighted by a 48-yard run up the middle by Brown (18-169).

Shaw finished the drive off with his second one-yard touchdown run of the game. The series left 6:49 on the clock.

"Maybe you'd like to hold onto it a little bit longer," said Shaw, "but at that point in the game we were just trying to get a score no matter how fast or how long it took."

Robinson scored his third rushing touchdown on the next drive, setting up the two-point try and the eventual GSU win.

For as many fireworks as there were in the second half, both offenses were stagnant in the first quarter.

The Eagles fumbled on the game's first drive, setting up UTC on the 44 yard line, but the GSU defense bailed them out with a three-and-out.

Every other first-quarter drive - two by each team - ended with a punt.

The Mocs were knocking on the door to start the second quarter on a drive that included a late-hit personal foul on Coleman by Rowe. They got all the way down the the GSU 13-yard line, but Robinson, from the wildcat formation, fumbled a second-down snap that was recovered by Eagles defensive tackle Justice Ejike.

The offense capitalized immediately, when Brown took an option pitch 68 yards down the sideline to the UTC 18-yard line.

The Eagles punched it in on 3rd-and-14 when Dominique Swope ran a draw up the middle 22 yards to put GSU ahead 7-0.

"We delayed it a little bit," said Swope about the play, "and I just saw a hole open up so I ran as hard as I could."

The next drive seemingly spelled disaster for the Mocs, as Coleman threw an incomplete pass and left the game.

Backup quarterback Graham Nichols was sacked on the next play by John Douglas, forcing a UTC punt.

The Eagles scored again, this time on a 20-yard pass from Shaw to J.J. Wilcox, who broke four tackles on his way to the end zone.

Robinson then led UTC 82 yards on 11 plays, and punched it in himself from five yards out to cut the GSU lead to 14-7.

Georgia Southern ran a two-minute drill with 1:46 remaining in the second quarter with seven running plays and only two passes, one of which a 28 yard reception by Brown, and Shaw punched it in from a yard out to put the Eagles ahead 21-7 at halftime.

"We have the confidence to score any time we can," said Shaw, "no matter how much time is on the clock."

The Eagles return to action Saturday at Paulson Stadium against the Furman Paladins.


Matt Yogus can be reached at (912) 489-9408.