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Notebook: New Eagles getting into swing of things
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Georgia Southern slotback Torrence Hunt drags Savannah State linebacker Fredrick Fluker for extra yardage during a first quarter run Saturday at Paulson Stadium. - photo by SCOTT BRYANT/staff

    Georgia Southern’s marquee players had a field day in Saturday’s season-opening 77-9 win against Savannah State at Paulson Stadium, but plenty of new faces had an impact, too.
    On the offensive side of the ball, senior transfer Torrance Hunt, slotback who graduated from East Carolina last year and is playing out his final year of eligibility in graduate school at GSU, blazed through the gaps and torched SSU for 73 yards on seven carries and one of the Eagles’ 10 rushing touchdowns.
    “I always pride myself on my speed,” Hunt said. “I feel like that was one of the reasons I was recruited out of high school, and why the coaches here found me. I feel like that’s my craft. I always try to hone my craft. Being fast is why I play this game, and I look forward to stretching the field as much as I can.”
    Quarterbacks Kevin Ellison and Vegas Harley, and running backs Devin Scott and Chris Johnson also scored their first-career touchdowns at GSU.
    “We put up a lot of yards on offense and it was spread out,” Hunt said of GSU’s 576 rushing yards, the most of any DIvision I school in the nation on Saturday. “We had nine guys score, so that’s something I love. That is the most points I’ve ever scored in a college game, and it was really exciting to see everybody contribute.”
    On the other side of the ball, freshman defensive end Rafeal Hardee was given a chance to make an impact and used it, recording three tackles including one for a 2-yard loss.
    Hardee, a 270-pound lineman who left high school at about 240, was surprised to even be on the field in 2013.
    “Honestly, coming in here I thought I was going to be redshirted, because there’s a whole bunch of talent in front of me,” Hardee said. “I didn’t expect to play. The first half, I was nervous, coming in as a freshman and going at the next level, but in the second half, I kind of settled in with it.”
    He was also surprised to be on the end.
    “Coming in as a freshman,” Hardee said. “I thought I was going to play tackle, but they wanted me to be a big, 270-pound end.”
    Hardee said seniors Javon Mention and Josh Gebhardt have taken him under their wing.
“He’s going to be a really good player,” GSU head coach Jeff Monken said. “He’s young and raw right now.”

Player of the Week
    Fullback Dominique Swope was named Southern Conference Offensive Player of the Week with 100 rushing yards and two touchdowns.
    The award was even more impressive considering four fullbacks split the load, and Swope had only 17 of the 30 carries from the position.
“I think there’s a lot of respect around the league for Dominique Swope,” Monken said, “in his ability to run the football. I’m sure that makes a difference.”

Poll position
    Georgia Southern dropped from No. 9 to No. 10 in the Football Championship Subdivision Top 25 Sports Network poll, after Football Bowl Subdivision wins by Northern Iowa over Iowa State and Towson over UConn shot the programs into the top 10.
    Georgia Southern and Appalachian State are not eligible for the Top 25 coaches poll because of their transition to the FBS Sun Belt Conference.

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