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Allison: Mocs came to play vs GSU
UTC coach felt everything went right in SoCon win
092207 GSU FOOTBALL 06
Dejected Georgia Southern wide receiver Michael McIntosh walks off the field after the Eagles dropped a 45-38 loss to Chattanooga Saturday night at Paulson Stadium. - photo by SCOTT BRYANT/staff

    Heading into last Saturday’s matchup at Georgia Southern, Chattanooga coach Rodney Allison made a point to say his players fully anticipated being in the game.

    Though the Mocs had a two-decade reputation for being the Eagles’ whippin’ boy and had never left Statesboro victorious, the UTC coach said his guys believed they were going to win.

    They did, but not without the help of a little late trickery. With the game knotted at 31-31, Chattanooga pulled off a variation of the Statue of Liberty play and tailback Erroll Wynn ran for a 19-yard score to give the visitor’s a one-touchdown lead with 3:32 left in regulation.

    The play, during which quarterback Antonio Miller faked a pass before Wynn took the behind-the-back handoff on a crossing route, was the same tactic used by Boise State to score the game-winning touchdown in overtime against Oklahoma in the 2007 Fiesta Bowl. Allison said his team’s been working on perfecting it.

    “We executed it at the right time,” he said. “We had to have plays like that to beat this team at their place.”

    Wynn’s score was answered with 77 seconds to play when GSU running back Mike Hamilton barreled into the end zone for a 3-yard score that forced overtime.

    Chattanooga’s Thomas Hinton caught the eventual game winner, a 25-yard TD pass on the second play of overtime, and the Eagles (2-1, 0-1 Southern Conference) failed to move the ball on their possession to seal the Mocs’ 45-38 victory.

    Early in the game, Chattanooga (1-2, 1-0) attempted to make a statement and capture momentum by recovering an onside kick after scoring its first touchdown of the night to tie the matchup at 7-7. But the Eagle defense forced the Mocs to go three-and-out on the ensuing drive.

    “What I wanted to do was send these guys a signal that I wasn’t going to be scared,” Allison said of the onside kick. “I wasn’t going to play scared. I knew this wasn’t going to be a 17-14 game. I knew it was going to take points.”

    By the numbers

    Georgia Southern continues to lead the league in rushing offense (437.7) and total offense (540.7) after gaining a season-low 324 yards on the ground and 451 total yards against the Mocs…The Eagles went 11-for-19 on third downs Saturday, improving their third-down conversion rate from 34.62 percent to 44.4…GSU is the second-most penalized team in the league and has been flagged 26 times for an average of 74.7 yards a game. Only Elon has racked up more penalties (28 for 81 yd/g)…The Eagles have a -2 turnover margin….The GSU defense is allowing 351.7 yards a contest, which ranks fourth in the SoCon. It’s also surrendering 33.3 points a week, but quarterback Jayson Foster didn’t blame the group.

    “The defense played a heck of the game, but the offense kind of left them out to dry,” said Foster, who ran for three touchdowns in his third straight 200-yard rushing game. “We gave up turnover after turnover.”

    Up Next

    Western Carolina has finally won a game. The Catamounts, who visit Paulson Stadium for a 3:30 p.m. game Saturday, halted a 12-game losing steak with a 33-20 home win over Presbyterian last week. WCU rode to the victory behind senior tailback Mike Malone, who rushed for a career-best 105 yards and two touchdowns, and quarterback Todd Spitzer, who completed 19 passes for a career-high 239 yards.

    The Catamounts started the year 0-3 but played arguably the toughest schedule in the league with road games at Alabama, Eastern Kentucky and Georgia. WCU was winless in the league last year and has yet to play a SoCon game. Georgia Southern leads the all-time series 15-2.

    Alex Pellegrino can be reached at (912) 489-9413.