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Foster lone bright spot in Eagles' loss
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    Thank goodness for Jayson Foster.
    Without the efforts of arguably the most feared man in the Southern Conference, Georgia Southern’s 24-21 loss at The Citadel Saturday would have looked much worse. The quarterback-turned-receiver displayed his dangerous explosiveness all over the field, touching the ball nine times on offense and special teams. Foster scored two of GSU’s three touchdowns and accounted for 160 yards, catching three passes for a career-high 114 yards, running twice for 11 yards and returning four kicks a total of 35 yards.
    Foster fooled The Citadel when he lined up as the holder on a fake field goal but ran for a 7-yard TD to pull Georgia Southern within a touchdown early in the third quarter.
    “We’ve been practicing that for a little bit now, and we picked a pretty good time to run it,” Foster said. “We executed it well and got it into the end zone.”
    The Canton native later reeled in a school-record 85-yard TD pass on a cross route to cut the Bulldog lead to three with 6:11 remaining. Foster also caught a 25-yard pass on fourth-and-15 on Georgia Southern’s final possession.
    “The thing I was really impressed with (Saturday) was he was really tuned in,” GSU coach Brian VanGorder said. “At the end of the game, his competitive level was different than that of a lot of the guys. He’s got that ability, and he really needs to bring that out on this football team and establish himself as a great leader.”
    Foster has been the epitome of class all season, never once complaining publicly about his limited role in the Eagles’ new offense. He compiled more than 2,300 yards and scored 29 times as the quarterback last season but has just six touchdowns this season.

An Appalachian
State hangover?
    A week before heading to Charleston, S.C., to face the Bulldogs, Georgia Southern (3-5, 2-3) played its heart out against defending national champion and top-ranked Appalachian State. The emotionally draining double-overtime loss looked like it was still lingering over the Eagles Saturday when The Citadel jumped out to a 14-0 first-quarter lead and GSU sputtered in the first half.
    “Practice was a little sloppy (last) week coming off the loss, which can be expected, but you’ve got to get back on the horse and pick it up the next week,” said senior linebacker John Mohring, who recorded a team-high nine tackles, including one fumble recovery and two tackles for a loss against The Citadel.
    Foster agreed.
    “We came out pretty flat, which carried over from the week of practice,” he said. “We really needed to come out strong but we didn’t. We picked it up in the second half and started to make plays a little too late.”
    VanGorder didn’t want to blame The Citadel loss entirely on a letdown after the ASU game, but he said it did have an affect on his team.
    “We didn’t have a great focus (Saturday), that’s just the fact,” VanGorder said. “We stepped back, and that response, that attitude is not going to be accepted.”

Third down woes
    Georgia Southern’s third-down struggles continued Saturday when the Eagles converted just 2 of 14 opportunities. GSU is 38-for-116 (32.8 percent) on third downs this season, which ranks seventh (next to last) in the Southern Conference.
    The Eagles were second in the league in that category a year ago, converting 78 of 161 third downs (48.4 percent) in 12 games.
Up next
    The Eagles return to Paulson Stadium Saturday to host Wofford. The noon game will be televised by CSS.
    The Terriers (4-4, 3-2) are the Southern Conference’s top running team (247.8 yards per game) and rushed for 337 yards and four touchdowns in a 35-7 home win over Western Carolina last weekend. Junior Kevious Johnson ran for 103 yards and one touchdown on 11 carries, while quarterback Josh Collier rushed nine times for 32 yards and one TD. He completed 2 of 4 passes for 83 yards and a score. Wofford is tied with The Citadel for third place in the league standings.
    Georgia Southern leads the all-time series with the Terriers, 7-4, but hasn’t faired well against them lately. The Eagles lost at Wofford, 21-17, last season and have dropped three of the last four meetings with the Terriers.
    “We are going to go to work hard,” VanGorder said.

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