SPARTANBURG, S.C. — Four Georgia Southern Eagles didn’t get to walk in Friday’s Georgia Southern University commencement ceremonies.
Seniors Carson Hill, Lee Banks, Evan Mattingly and student manager Philip Bailey had a quarterfinal football game.
Georgia Southern president Dr. Brooks Keel decided to take the ceremony to them. After participating in all three ceremonies Friday at GSU’s Hanner Fieldhouse, Keel traveled to Spartanburg to hold a ceremony for the Eagles.
"We had three players and one of the graduate assistants that chose not to walk so they could be here with their team," Keel said Saturday after the Eagles defeated Wofford 23-20 to advance to the Football Championship Subdivision playoffs. "I think that says so much about the character of these guys and the team spirit that coach [Jeff] Monken has pulled together. We thought, ‘Well, if they can’t come to graduation, we’ll take graduation to them.’"
Keel dressed in his cap and gown, and also brought one for the graduates.
"We only had one cap and gown," Keel said, "so we had to take them out in the hall, get it off and get it on the next one."
For the students who could not walk the Hanner stage with their classmates, the gesture was much appreciated.
"It just shows me how much coach Monken and Dr. Keel care about more than just athletics," said Hill. "They care about our well being."
Georgia Southern kicker Adrian Mora missed a field goal for only the second time in the 2010-11 season, finishing 3 for 4 Saturday.
He didn’t let the second-quarter miss get to him, making another just before the half and the clincher in the fourth quarter.
"I had no doubts in my mind I was going to make the next one," Mora said about the miss.
The junior is now 18-20, and a perfect 44 for 44 on extra-point attempts.
Wofford went for it on fourth down four times in the game, getting a first down three times.
The only miss came in the fourth quarter on 4th-and-goal from the GSU 3-yard line. Josh Rowe stopped Wofford quarterback Mitch Allen for no gain."
"It was a big play," said the sophomore middle linebacker, "but I have to give all the credit to the guys up front – Brent Russell, Rod Tinsley, Josh Gebhardt and John Douglas. They make my job so much easier."
The last time…
The last time Georgia Southern won a quarterfinal playoff game was Dec. 7, 2002, when the Eagles defeated Maine 31-7 to advance to the semifinals for the 10th time in program history.
The last time Wofford defeated the Eagles in Gibbs Stadium was a 21-17 decision on Sept.16, 2005.
Saturday was the first time GSU faced the Terriers in the playoffs.
Matt Yogus can be reached at (912) 489-9408.