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Foster runs wild in GSU win over Coastal
Senior QB rushes for six scores in GSU win
CCU GS Foster Celebrate
Georgia Southern quarterback Jayson Foster (6) celebrates alongside Irving Campbell (80) on one of his six touchdown runs in Conway, S.C. on Saturday. Foster ran for 253 yards on 28 carries and set a school record for touchdowns in a game, as the Eagles moved to 2-0 with a 42-34 win over Coastal Carolina. - photo by CHARLES SLATE/Special to the Herald
     CONWAY, S.C. — Two weeks ago no one knew for certain whether or not Jayson Foster would be Georgia Southern’s starting quarterback. Now it’s hard to imagine him anywhere else.
    The Hatch Attack looked more like the Jayson Foster Show Saturday at Coastal Carolina when the unstoppable senior carried Georgia Southern to its second-straight win, a 42-34 victory over the Chanticleers in front of an overflow crowd of 8,448 at Brooks Stadium.
    Foster amassed 311 yards of total offense and rushed for all six of the Eagles’ touchdowns, a new school record. His 253 rushing yards also set a new school mark for a quarterback and was the most since Greg Hill ran for 238 in the 1997 playoffs. It was the third-best rushing performance in Georgia Southern history.
    “He’s an absolute freak,” junior safety Chris Covington said of Foster. “Nobody knows how he does what he does. I don’t think he knows. He’s amazing. He’s a great athlete, and to be completely honest, he’s a better person than he is an athlete. He’s an awesome person to root for.”
    Senior running back Lamar Lewis also had a big night, finishing with 206 rushing yards on 18 carries. It was the first time in school history two Eagles have passed the 200-yard rushing mark in the same game. As a team, the Eagles had 512 yards on the ground, the 12th best performance in GSU history.
    “We didn’t know we set a record until we came into the locker room,” Foster said. “The way they were playing allowed for me to have a lot of yards, so I had to go out there and produce.”
    Coastal kept things close most of the game, but Georgia Southern began pulling away early in the final quarter when Foster’s 18-yard scoring run put the Eagles up 28-21 with 14:54 remaining. Coastal cut the lead to one at 28-27 with 10:58 to go on a 1-yard TD run by fullback Mike Tolbert but missed the point-after attempt wide left.
    The Eagles (2-0) punted on their next possession, but Brandon Echols forced Coastal to fumble the return and Sean Gray recovered. GSU took over at the CCU 7-yard line, and two plays later Foster was in the end zone again, this time on an 8-yard run to put Georgia Southern ahead 35-27. Dedrick Bynam picked off a pass on the Chanticleer’s next drive, setting up Foster’s sixth TD, a 17-yard sprint.
    Foster, who ran for 231 yards last week, became the second player in GSU history to rush for more than 200 yards in consecutive games. Adrian Peterson is the only other Eagle to accomplish the feat.
    “(Foster) has a knack for making plays when you need them,” Eagle coach Chris Hatcher said.
    The Chanticleers knotted the game at 21-21 on quarterback Will Richardson’s 1-yard touchdown run with 3:51 left in the third quarter. The drive followed an interception by Coastal’s Whittmin Reese, the second pick thrown by Foster on the night. It was the first time in Foster’s career he’d thrown two interceptions in one game.
    Coastal, a fifth-year program still regrouping from the loss of 36 seniors, fell to 1-2 on the year.
    With the game tied at 14-14, Foster sprinted 55 yards for his third rushing touchdown to give GSU a 21-14 lead at the half. The Eagles missed two major shots at padding their halftime lead, the first when Echols recovered a fumbled snap on a Chanticleer punt and the Eagles took over at their own 23. The second opportunity came when Covington returned an interception 45 yards to the GSU 12, but in both instances the Eagle offense stalled and kicker Jesse Hartley missed wide left on field-goal attempts of 39 and 32 yards, respectively.
    The Eagles punted on their first two possessions before Foster broke loose for a 31-yard touchdown run to put Georgia Southern on top 7-0 with 3:52 to play in the first quarter.
    It took 17 seconds for the Chanticleers to answer as junior running back Jamie Fordham found a seam between the tackles and sprinted for a career-long 61-yard TD run that tied the game at 7-7. Georgia Southern regained the lead on its next possession when Foster sold the fake and hauled 36 yards for his second rushing score of the night to put GSU up 14-7.
    But Coastal jumped right back in it moments into the second half after free safety Keon Cunningham intercepted a Foster pass and returned it 29 yards. The Chants capitalized on the miscue, knotting the game at 14-14 two plays later when Tolbert ran in from six yards out 11:43 before the half.
    “All wins are good wins, and this one was no different,” Hatcher said. “I thought we fought hard for 60 game minutes. We still made a lot of mistakes, and we’ve got a lot to work on. We are still a very young football team.”
    Georgia Southern begins a three-game homestand and Southern Conference play Saturday with a 7 p.m. game against Chattanooga (0-2).

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