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Samford's shot at history
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Georgia Southern wide receiver Mitchell Williford, bottom, grabs his helmet in lamentation after a Jaybo Shaw pass sails long on third down as the Eagles make one last effort to tie the game against Samford in the fourth quarter of this Oct. 30, 2010 file photo at Paulson Stadium. Shaw was sacked on the next play and the Bulldogs ran out the clock for a 20-13 victory. The Eagles face Samford to open the season on Saturday. The Bulldogs have the opportunity to become only the second team in NCAA history to defeat the Eagles four years in a row. Marshall did it from 1993-96. - photo by SCOTT BRYANT/staff

    What do Samford quarterback Dustin Taliaferro and the Marshall Thundering Herd have in common?
    Both beat the Georgia Southern Eagles in three consecutive years.
    Marshall, then a member of the Southern Conference, went on to win an unprecedented and unmatched fourth-straight, defeating Georgia Southern in 1993, 1994, 1995 and 1996.
    Marshall used a different quarterback in each of its four-straight wins over the Eagles.
    Taliaferro has the opportunity to become the only QB in NCAA history with four wins over Georgia Southern, and Samford has a chance to match Marshall's winning streak on Saturday, when the Eagles travel to Birmingham, Ala. to open the 2011 season against the Bulldogs in Seibert Stadium at 7 p.m. EST.
    Taliaferro is 3-0 against GSU — and a former teammate of his.
    Long before he played his high school ball at Marist, Georgia Southern safety Derek Heyden played running back, and Taliaferro was his lead blocker.
    "Dustin was actually our fullback for the Alpharetta Eagles," said Heyden, a four-year starter for GSU. "He was a good player, a good fullback. He did some good things for us."
    For the past three years, Heyden hasn't had much to say to his former teammate.
    "At the end of the game, we'll say a few words. They've gotten us the last three times, so I've never been in the talking mood," Heyden said. "Hopefully the roles are reversed and we go out there and get a victory."
    Knowing the quarterback on the other side of the line of scrimmage doesn't change Heyden's approach to the game.
    "I'm always asking for safety blitzes," he said. "I don't care who we're playing."
    The Eagles don't need any extra motivation against Samford.
    "Friday night, the nerves will start kicking in," said GSU quarterback Jaybo Shaw. "We're all excited about getting to play a ballgame. It's been a long camp."
    Samford will open the season with a "White Out" at Seibert Stadium, electing to wear its white road jerseys. The Eagles will wear their home blues as agreed upon by both teams.

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