By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Lowe easing way into GSU offense
Freshman gives a glimpse into future of 'Hatch Attack'
Placeholder Image
    He was the secret weapon in Georgia Southern’s tool box last week, and freshman quarterback Billy Lowe didn’t have any trouble keeping that under wraps.
    “A lot of people ask questions, but it’s kind of like a family,” Lowe said. “Something that’s told within the family stays within the family. That’s the way I look at it.”
    Lowe’s role was certainly a huge surprise to Appalachian State, which got punched square in the mouth when Lowe rolled in on the third play of the game. He handed off to starting quarterback Jayson Foster, who wiggled his way free for a 56-yard touchdown run.
    After that, Lowe could breathe a little easier.
    “You always have butterflies on the first play, but once it was over and I saw Jayson go down the field, I just chased him as fast as I could and gave him a hug in the end zone,” he said. “It was just really exciting.”
    Throughout the game Lowe rotated in at quarterback while Foster slid over to running back or receiver — a new wrinkle Georgia Southern coach Chris Hatcher added last week for a variety of reasons.
    Opposing defenses had been centered on containing Foster, and the Eagles wanted to find new ways to get the elusive senior the ball. With its running backs hobbling around with a slew of injuries, GSU was also looking to take some pressure off its running game. And after plenty of hard work at practice, Hatcher thought Lowe was deserving of increased playing time.
    “We had a lot of injuries, and with Billy coming in and completing passes and making great decisions — it was a big asset to our team, which we needed for that game,” Foster said. “He kept the chains moving.”
    With the two-headed monster of Foster and Lowe at quarterback, Georgia Southern (5-2, 2-2) pulled off a monumental upset, knocking off the two-time defending national champions, 38-35, to end the nation’s longest home winning streak. Lowe hit 8 of 11 passes for 145 yards and one touchdown to earn Southern Conference freshman of the week honors.
    “I think Coach Hatcher did a great job of mixing it up,” Eagle defensive end Larry Beard said. “There were some run plays and some pass plays with Billy, so you can’t just key on him being the passer and Jayson being the runner. Coach Hatcher keeps you guessing, which is a good thing.”
    Lowe’s addition creates a lot more work for opponents, who now have a whole new set of worries when contemplating how to defend GSU, the SoCon’s best offense.
    “It causes a lot more conflicts,” said Citadel coach Kevin Higgins, whose squad travels to Statesboro for Saturday’s noon homecoming game. “(It was) a great job by their coaching staff of inserting him in. He just presents another weapon. Obviously he can throw the football, and maybe the most important thing about that is Jayson Foster is still on the field. So Jayson can now run the ball from the running back position, he can catch the ball out of the backfield, he can line up as a wide receiver, and I’m sure this week they’ll have a couple of more wrinkles as well. It has really I think benefited them.”
    Lowe’s new role doesn’t jeopardize Foster, who has a solid hold on the starting job. The Eagles will continue working Lowe in, Hatcher said, although specific games will dictate how much he plays. In the meantime, Foster said he’s there to help Lowe, but the freshman hasn’t needed much assistance.
    “You really don’t have to say too much to him,” Foster said. “He knows the plays. All the quarterbacks know the plays so we have confidence with anyone who goes in there and plays quarterback.”

From Northern
Illinois to GSU
    Lowe didn’t know much about Georgia Southern’s rich football history when he opted to transfer here from Northern Illinois this spring, but he’s been getting a crash course since joining the team in May. He was drawn to the GSU largely because of Hatcher, who had recruited Lowe out of Lakeland (Fla.) High School. The freshman quickly adjusted to life in Statesboro.
    “It’s been amazing,” he said of the transition. “I’m closer to home. I get to see my family. The weather is great compared to where I was. The players are all great. I haven’t met a player on the team I don’t like. It’s just been fun.”
    Without the luxury of having spring practice to adjust to Hatcher’s system, Lowe had a ton to learn when fall camp began. He made a steady climb up the depth chart where he’s currently the team’s No. 2 quarterback. Although it was a long way to go, Lowe had always hoped of coming in and making an impact immediately.
    “I dream big,” he said. “I had a lot of respect for the other guys, and I knew it was going to be a lot of hard work. I had to go through two different offensive coordinators at my old school, and learning a new offense is pretty tough. So I knew I had my work cut out for me.”
    Lowe, who tries to lead by example, has had a lot of pressure taken off him simply by playing alongside Foster, one of the most widely feared players in the SoCon.
    “He’s exciting,” Lowe said. “I just have a smile on my face every time I give him the ball or I see him keep the ball because you never know what he’s going to do.
    “It’s funny because Jayson sometimes makes the wrong decisions, but you’d never know it because he ends up scoring a touchdown. It’s great to watch somebody like that.”
    As for life away from football, Lowe said he used to socialize a lot more but those days are behind him.
    “I’ve kind of calmed down. I’m kind of boring now,” he said. “I get tired, so I’m in bed early sometimes. I don’t really get to do much off the field anymore. I just concentrate on football.”

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