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SoCon Notebook: App State can clinch on Saturday
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    Appalachian State is in control.
    The defending I-AA national champions can clinch the Southern Conference’s automatic bid to the playoffs and their second straight league title with a victory over The Citadel (3-5, 3-2) Saturday in Boone, N.C. ASU (8-1, 5-0) jumped into the driver’s seat of the SoCon title race with a 40-7 home win over Furman last weekend, giving the Mountaineers sole possession of first place in the league.
    Furman lead 7-0 after one quarter, but top-ranked ASU reeled off 40-unanswered points and took control after the break, out-gaining Furman 219-32 in the second half. It was App’s fifth 40-point performance this season, just one shy of the school record of six set in 1968. The Mountaineers have held six opponents to 10 points or less for the second time since 1971.
    “In the second half, we couldn’t get anything going at all,” Furman coach Bobby Lamb said. “Appalachian is a very good football team. You give them any bit of momentum (and) it can get pretty ugly. They deserve to be the No. 1 team in the country.”

Furman looks to alvage playoff hopes
    Furman has backed itself into a corner.
    After falling to Appalachian for their first SoCon loss, the Paladins (6-3, 4-1) must now win their final two games against Elon and Georgia Southern to keep the playoff hopes alive. All three of Furman’s losses this season have been on the road, a trend the Paladins will try to reverse when they travel to Elon (4-4, 2-3) this weekend.
    Furman has battled injuries all season and 10 players were held out of practice Monday, including the SoCon’s leading scorer, fullback Jerome Felton. Lamb is optimistic Felton will play Saturday and said the players have responded well after their worst loss of the season.
    “We had probably the best Monday practice we’ve had all year long,” he said. “It’s right in front of us. Our kids are still confident. They know what we’ve got to do. We’ve got to win two to get in the playoffs, and the first one is this weekend at Elon. If we win two, we’re in, if not we are sitting home for the holidays.”

High praise for Lembo
    League coaches continue to give high praise to first-year Elon coach Pete Lembo. Lembo, the second youngest head coach in Division I football at age 36, joined the Phoenix this season after an impressive five-year stint at the helm of the Lehigh program. He compiled a 44-14 mark and a school-record .759 winning percentage.
    Lembo inherited a slumping Phoenix team that went 3-8 and 0-7 in the SoCon a year ago. Prior to this season, Elon had won a total of eight games and three league contests since joining the SoCon in 2003. Through eight games this year, Elon is 4-4 overall and 2-3 in league play.
    “He’s done a great job,” Chattanooga coach Rodney Allison said. “I know we are probably repetitious in our compliments to Pete, but he’s done a really nice job and their kids are competitive in every single game. They’ve got a style and a way of playing to keep them in games.”
    Elon, which will celebrate homecoming this weekend, rallied from a 14-3 second-quarter deficit to beat Chattanooga 20-17 last weekend. It was the second SoCon road win in Phoenix history. Elon gave Georgia Southern a scare earlier this season in Statesboro, forcing the Eagles to score with 63 seconds remaining to secure the 28-21 win.
    “Pete Lembo has done an outstanding job at Elon,” Lamb said. “I think it says a lot that Elon was able to get him to be their head football coach. They’ve done a magnificent job at Elon. They are a very solid football team. They are doing the things that give their kids a chance to win. They play extremely hard.”
    Alex Pellegrino can be reached at (912) 489-9413.