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SoCon Football Notebook: Bulldogs coach impressed with GSU

Count The Citadel head coach Kevin Higgins among those who enjoyed watching the football game between Georgia Southern and Appalachian State on Saturday.
    “What a great game that was between Georgia Southern and Appalachian State, an incredible football game,” Higgins said Tuesday morning. “As you watch Georgia Southern, obviously, their offense is so good. They’re loaded with speed. And from a defensive standpoint, those up front guys and linebackers are really, really talented. It will be a tremendous challenge for us, and we’re looking forward to the opportunity.”
    The Citadel (4-4 overall, 2-4 Southern Conference) will travel to Statesboro to play No. 5 GSU (7-1, 5-1) at 2 p.m. Saturday at Paulson Stadium for the Eagles’ homecoming.
    The Bulldogs are coming off a 41-14 non-conference victory over Virginia Military Institute (1-7). The Citadel has blocked nine punts this season, including three against VMI.
    GSU is coming off a 24-17 loss to Appalachian State in Boone, N.C. The Eagles were No. 1 in the Football Championship Subdivision for seven weeks until dropping in both The Sports Network/ FCS Top 25 Poll and the FCS Coaches Poll on Monday.
    Higgins said he remains impressed with GSU’s offense, which was limited to a season-low 201 yards of total offense against Appalachian State.
    “They’re multiple,” Higgins said. “They’re more multiple than they were before. They present so many different formations and so many different looks. They’re in the shotgun now. They’re running some pistol. They’re running some inside zone as well as some mid-line, the triple, the toss.
    “They have an abundance of running backs with tremendous speed. Obviously, they’ve got a quarterback that has experience and understands how to run that system. And their offensive line has only gotten better and better as the year has progressed.”
    Higgins also praised GSU’s special teams, which kept the Eagles in the game against the Mountaineers.
    GSU senior Laron Scott’s 78-yard kickoff return resulted in the Eagles’ first points of the game, a 22-yard field goal by senior Adrian Mora. GSU junior Darreion Robinson’s 46-yard punt return for a touchdown, and an extra point by Mora, allowed the Eagles to tie the game at 17 early in the fourth quarter.
    “We have a great challenge this week because their kickoff return men, Laron Scott and Darreion Robinson, are as good as there are in the country,” Higgins said. “And, of course, from a punt return standpoint, you saw what took place last week, as they returned a punt for a touchdown against App State to tie the game.”
Appalachian State
    Appalachian State (6-2, 4-1) moved up to No. 3 in both polls after beating GSU. The Mountaineers will play at Furman (5-3, 4-2) on Saturday.
    “I think most people already know it’s probably one of the nicest, or one of the really good, Southern Conference games already of this year,” Appalachian State head coach Jerry Moore said of his team’s victory over GSU. “And for us, it’s probably one of our better wins for a long, long time. I thought both teams played very well. It was a great atmosphere.
    “It snowed a little bit Friday night, late. It never stuck to the ground but it was coming down that (Saturday) morning, and it was kind of cruddy a little bit. And by noon, it turned into a beautiful day. It was sun-shiny and a little bit cool, and just a great crowd and a terrific ball game.
    “I think both teams played well. Everybody played hard. The thing about games like that, you don’t get to really enjoy them. In about 12 hours, you’re getting ready for your next one.”
    Furman is coming off a 14-7 victory over Chattanooga (4-5, 2-4). The Paladins beat Wofford, 26-21, on Oct. 22 after losing, 50-20, to GSU on Oct. 15.
    “Furman is probably the most-improved football team in this league,” Moore said. “We go down there to play Saturday and, obviously, we’re looking forward to it. I think it’s great to be involved in big games. Certainly, the Georgia Southern game, for both of us, for Georgia Southern and us, it was a big ball game. And we turn right around and we go get in another one.”
    Wofford (6-2, 4-1) is coming off a 48-28 victory over Elon (4-5, 2-4). The No. 11 Terriers will play at Western Carolina (1-7, 0-6) on Saturday before playing host to GSU on Nov. 12.
    “We played well,” Wofford head coach Mike Ayers said of his team’s victory over Elon. “I think we came into the game with a pretty good attitude. I think our game plan was what we needed, and we came out with a great deal of energy and played really well.”
    Wofford gained 478 total yards, including 465 yards rushing. Junior fullback Eric Breitenstein ran for 217 yards and four touchdowns on 28 carries. Senior quarterback Mitch Allen ran for 100 yards and two touchdowns on 12 carries.
    Breitenstein on Monday was named SoCon Offensive Player of the Week.
    Noell Barnidge can be reached at (912) 489-9408.