By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Eagles fall short at Colorado State
Southern can't overcome horrible first half
Georgia Southern wide receiver Irving Campbell (80) is hit by Colorado State's T.J. Borcky during the fourth quarter Saturday in Fort Collins, Colo. The Eagles’ playoff hopes likely ended with their 42-34 loss at CSU. - photo by ASSOCIATED PRESS-FORT COLLINS COLORADOAN/Michael G. Seamens
    FORT COLLINS, Colo. —Side by side, seniors Jayson Foster and Dusty Reddick strolled slowly out of the Georgia Southern locker room, headed back towards the playing surface.
    The quarterback and running back wanted one last look at Sonny Lubick Field, the scene of what was likely their final game in blue and white. Though they were clearly outmanned against Colorado State, the Eagles never surrendered, cutting a 25-point fourth-quarter deficit to eight before falling 42-34 in front of 14,332 fans at Hughes Stadium Saturday.
    “We just didn’t have quite enough time,” Reddick said. “We needed a little bit more time for one more play. If we had that, we could have done something special.”
    With the loss, Georgia Southern fell to 7-4 on the year, an extraordinary turnaround from last year’s three-win campaign, but probably not enough for the Eagles to secure an at-large berth to the Football Championship Subdivision playoffs. GSU was a missed field goal away from locking up the Southern Conference’s automatic bid to the playoffs last week, but a loss to rival Furman meant the Eagles needed to win Saturday to keep postseason hopes alive. The 16-team playoff field and first-round matchups will be announced today at 3:30 p.m. on ESPNU.
    “They were the better team,” first-year Georgia Southern coach Chris Hatcher said. “I’m proud of our guys. They’ve fought through a lot of adversity all season long with injuries, new schemes, suspensions, all the different things that took place. They come out here a long way from home against an opponent that was superior in talent and take it all the way down to the wire.”
    Foster further strengthened his campaign for the Walter Payton Award, given annually to the top offensive player in the FCS. He ran for a game-high 195 yards and three touchdowns and threw for 107 yards on an 11-of-17 clip. Foster’s accounted for a school-record 3,047 yards of total offense this season.
    He was the dynamo behind GSU’s second-half surge, scoring the Eagles’ first touchdown of the game on a 33-yard sprint to open the third quarter and later finding the end zone again on a 12-yard run. His third score, a 19-yard haul with 3:36 to play, pulled Georgia Southern within 11 at 42-31.
    The Eagles then successfully executed an onsides kick, taking over at their own 41 before settling for a 35-yard Jesse Hartley field goal with 1:41 remaining. From there, the Rams ran out the clock to seal the win, their second this season.
    “In the first half, I was worried every time he touched the ball,” CSU coach Sonny Lubick said of Foster. “In the second half, he was really successful. He’s every bit as good as we saw on tape.”
    Senior running back Lamar Lewis added 115 yards and one touchdown, a 19-yard score in the fourth quarter cut the CSU lead to 42-24.
    The Eagles finished with 509 total yards, but a depleted GSU defense couldn’t slow the Rams, who amassed 365 yards of total offense in the first half and 507 in the game. GSU was without three defensive starters, who were benched Saturday with either injuries or suspensions. The Rams took advantage, scoring on six straight possessions.
    “As a defense, we weren’t tackling well enough,” Eagle safety Chris Covington said. “Colorado State is just lucky they were bigger than us. We played harder than them the whole game, just physically we got run down.”
    The Eagles struggled offensively in the first half after marching to the Rams’ 3-yard line on their first possession of the afternoon and fumbling the ball away. A CSU scoring parade ensued as the Rams capitalized on the takeaway, hauling 97 yards and capping a 12-play drive with Gartrell Johnson’s 27-yard touchdown run.
    CSU struck three more times in the half on runs of 8 and 7 yards by Johnson and a 21-yard touchdown catch by Luke Roberts. The Eagles’ only first-half points were Hartley’s 35-yard field goal.
    By halftime, Eagles were down 28-3 – GSU’s largest first-half deficit since GSU trailed Florida 35-7 on Sept. 7 1996.
    “Offensively, we squandered away a lot of opportunities early,” Foster said. “You never want to go out with a loss, but we did.”
    In the end, the Eagles could point to a few plays that could have made a difference in the game. Along with the early fumble and a field goal instead of touchdown following the late onsides kick, Brandon Daniel recovered a fumble at the Ram 19 in the fourth quarter before the Eagle offense stalled and turned the ball over on downs at the CSU 3 with 6:05 to go.
    “All football games come down to a couple plays,” Foster said. “You can’t get down early to a team with a little bit more talent, a little bit more size and a little bit more speed.”