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Eagles begin final leg of improbable run
Foster named National Player of the Week
FOSTER 6 col
Jayson Foster (4) continued to rack up accolades on Monday. The Walter Payton Award candidate was named National Player of the Week by The Sports Network and Southern Conference Offensive Player of the Week. - photo by FILE
    No question Furman is having an atypical down year, but that doesn’t mean jack to Georgia Southern.
    The 11th-ranked Eagles (7-2, 4-2) will be looking to capture at least a share of the Southern Conference title when the Paladins (4-5, 2-3) come to town this weekend, and Georgia Southern knows its archrival would love nothing more than to play spoiler. After three straight playoff appearances, Furman hasn’t been a part of the postseason picture at any point this season while the Eagles are on the verge of their first playoff berth since Mike Sewak’s 2005 squad.
    “They are going to come in here ready to beat us,” senior offensive lineman Russell Orr said following Monday afternoon’s practice. “We’ve got a lot to gain out of this game and they do too.”
    It never fails, said junior wide receiver Raja Andrews, that Furman plays its best game of the year against the Eagles and vice versa.
    “We have to give them the same respect as we give any opponent, whether it’s Furman, App, Wofford or whoever it may be,” Andrews said. “What their record is right now is none of our concern. We approach Furman as Furman. They’ve always been a great program and will be a great program in the future, so we are going to give them that respect and play our best.”
    The team’s veterans are making sure the numerous transfers and newcomers understand the magnitude of this rivalry, which originated in the 1985 national championship game.
    After wins over Appalachian State, The Citadel and Wofford, the Eagles are eyeing their first four-game winning streak since 2005.
    “We’ve got some momentum behind us, and we’ve got to keep on carrying it,” Orr said. “It’s good that the team is finally starting to cut down on mistakes on this end-of-the-season stretch. Hopefully we’ll be in a good position to go into the playoffs. We’ve just got to keep building. We can’t get complacent right now.”
    The Eagles are hoping for a packed Paulson Stadium for the 3:30 game, which is senior day and possibly the final home game of the season. Several thousand GSU fans showed up for the 38-35 upset at Wofford last weekend, and players said they were grateful for the vocal backing.
    “It’s always great to have a big crowd behind us,” Orr said. “You can feel the energy. There’s a lot riding on this game, and we need all the support we can get.”

Eagles jump to 11th
    GSU continues its climb up the national rankings and was 11th in the FCS Coaches and Sports Network polls released Monday. It’s the Eagles’ highest ranking this year. By knocking off then-No.10 Wofford last weekend, GSU moved up six spots in the Sports Network poll and jumped seven notches in the coaches poll.

Foster, Hartley honored by SoCon
    Quarterback Jayson Foster and placekicker Jesse Hartley both earned SoCon player of the week honors Monday for their efforts against Wofford. Foster, who ran for a career-high 279 yards and three touchdowns on 28 carries, was co-offensive player of the week with Appalachian signal caller Armanti Edwards, whose 291 rushing yards against The Citadel were a Mountaineer record.
    Foster was also named College Sporting News’ national player of the week for the second time this season.
    Hartley picked up his second straight special teams player of the week accolade for nailing the deciding 44-yard field goal in the fourth quarter. He also hit all five of his extra-point tries.
    Foster and Hartley won their respective awards for third time this season.

Injury update
    For the second straight week, the Eagles escaped a game without sustaining any new injuries. Starting cornerback Carson Hill will miss his third consecutive game this week, but he could return before the end of the season, GSU coach Chris Hatcher said. Running back Mike Hamilton looks liked he’s regained his early season form after being hindered by an ankle injury suffered against Coastal Carolina.

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