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Eagles have tough Riddle to solve
GSU to face league's top QB
Georgia Southern cornerback Ronnie Wiggins, 23, deflects a pass intended for South Dakota State wide receiver Chris Doblar during Saturday’s 41-38 win.
    Scott Riddle is a true freshman, but he certainly doesn’t play like it.
    The Elon quarterback — who’s thrown for more than 300 yards in four straight games — hasn’t wasted time establishing himself as the top passer in the Southern Conference and one of the best in the country.
    Riddle currently leads the nation in completions (30.2 per game) and ranks fourth in passing yards (320.2) and sixth in total yards (321.8). No doubt he’ll be a huge test for a Georgia Southern defense allowing more than 242 passing yards a game, which ranks seventh in the eight-team league. The Eagles travel to Elon for a 3 p.m. game Saturday.
    “We know they’re going to throw the football, and we just challenged our guys that we’ve got to play our best game this season to have an opportunity to win,” secondary coach Keith Hatcher said.
    Riddle’s weapons include two of the SoCon’s top receivers in sophomore Terrell Hudgins and senior Michael Mayers, and the Eagles spent Monday afternoon gearing up for best passing team they’ve faced so far this year.
    “We basically have to come out to practice and step our game up from (last) week,” said junior cornerback Brandon Jackson, adding that the defense wants more consistency. “If we improve on our little mistakes, we should be good.”
    Defending the Phoenix will require the Eagles to limit big plays and force Elon into making mistakes. GSU will also look confuse the Phoenix with different coverages.
    “You just hope they mess up,” Eagle head coach Chris Hatcher said. “That’s basically what you hope for when you play a team like this.”
    As they have all year, Eagle coaches are continuing to stress the importance of putting pressure on the quarterback, an area where the team has struggled but shown improvement recently. Elon has allowed a league-high 18 sacks this year.
    “They’ve got a great offense,” Hatcher said. “Their quarterback, gawlee, you throw that many yards a game, you’re pretty good. They’ve got two great receivers, and you can’t forget about the running attack they have, so we’re going to have our hands full on defense. Nobody’s slowed them down up to this point, so maybe we can force some turnovers and make them play catch up all night.”

Hartley picks up national, SoCon honors
    Awards rolled in for Jesse Hartley Monday as Georgia Southern’s junior placekicker picked up national and conference player of the week honors for booting a 54-yard field goal as time expired to lift Georgia Southern to a 41-38 win over South Dakota State last Saturday.
    Hartley was one of five national players of the week for the College Sporting News and the SoCon’s special teams player of the week. The Tallahassee native was 2-for-2 on field goals and 5-for-5 on point-after attempts against SDSU. He’s hit all 27 of his PATs and 7 of 9 field goal tries this year.

Eagles crack top 25
    Georgia Southern returned to the Top 25 for the first time in nearly a year Monday as the Eagles were ranked 21st in both the FCS Coaches and The Sports Network polls.
    “It’s nice to get that,” Hatcher said. “I don’t know whether we are deserving of a ranking yet, but it’s been a long time since I hadn’t been ranked.”
    GSU, which fell from the national rankings following the loss to North Dakota State last October, was out of the polls for 14 straight weeks.
    “It’s a privilege, and we’ve just got to run with it,” Jackson said. “We’ve got to take a step forward instead of backward.”
Injury update
    Receiver Mike McIntosh, running back Sean Gray and offensive lineman Dio Herrera will all miss Saturday’s game, Hatcher said Monday. McIntosh, who wore a protective boot on his right foot, and Gray, who was on crutches with his knee wrapped, were both injured in the South Dakota State game. Herrera missed the last two games.
    The Eagles’ running backs have been hit the hardest by the injury bug as Dusty Reddick, Lamar Lewis and Mike Hamilton are questionable for the Elon game. GSU doesn’t release injuries. Sophomore defensive end Charwell Brown practiced at running back Monday, but Hatcher said the move isn’t permanent.
    “Anybody who wants to play running back, come over there and try out for it,” Hatcher quipped.

ASU game to be televised locally
    The Eagles’ Oct. 20 game at No. 5 Appalachian State will be televised locally, GSU announced Monday.
    WGSA-TV in Savannah will carry the Mid-Atlantic Sports Network’s broadcast of the 3:30 p.m. game. WGSA is on channel 13 for Northland Cable and Savannah Comcast Cable subscribers and on channel 7 for fans in Jesup, Richmond Hill and Hinesville. For DIRECTV and Dish Network customers, WGSA is channel 34.
    Alex Pellegrino can be reached at (912) 489-9413.