Preseason favorites Appalachian State and Elon square off at the Rock in Boone while the other two remaining unbeatens in the league – Georgia Southern and Wofford – meet in Statesboro.
The Phoenix-Mountaineers game lost a bit of its shine when Elon fell at Georgia Southern two weeks ago. The Phoenix held off Samford last week to remain in the hunt, but they need to take down Appalachian State to stay there. The Mountaineers can advance to 3-0 with a win, which would almost effectively take the Phoenix out of the race. The last time these teams played in Boone, the Mountaineers captured a close win on a snowy, late-season day. The playing conditions should be different this time, but will the outcome?
Wofford and Georgia Southern are making noise like teams anxious to return to lofty heights they once knew. The Eagles got a week off after defeating Elon at home. The Terriers thrashed rival Furman last week. This game pairs two evenly matched teams who play pretty much the same style of football. Turnovers could factor into the outcome of this one. The winner will position itself for a good shot at one of the top two spots in the SoCon.
More on both of these games later.
Review of Games of Oct. 2
Quarterback Cameron Jones combined with Mario Scott on two touchdown passes as VMI won the first Big South Conference game of the season, 24-13 over Presbyterian College. The second of those scores – a 12-yarder – came with 1:20 remaining in the game to seal the victory. Keydets runningback Chaz Jones ran for 88 yards and a touchdown on 25 carries and also caught five passes for 43 yards. VMI allowed only 205 total yards to the Blue Hose, whose lone touchdown came via Antarius Terrell’s 15-yard interception return. … A record crowd of 19,314 showed up for the first game at Liberty’s newly renovated and expanded Williams Stadium. It watched as the Flames rolled past Savannah State 52-14. Runningback SirChauncey Holloway rushed for 140 yards on 16 carries and scored a touchdown. Quarterback Mike Brown threw for 231 yards and ran for 54. He connected with Chris Summers on eight completions for 132 yards and three touchdowns. Liberty outgained Savannah State 564 to 304 and raced to a 35-7 halftime lead. … Old Dominion scored a touchdown with 3:42 to go in the game to defeat visiting Gardner-Webb14-7. Defenses dominated for much of the game as the Monarchs led the Runnin’ Bulldogs in total offense 252 to 203. Wide receiver James Perry III paced Gardner-Webb with nine receptions for 84 yards. After scoring a first-half touchdown, the Bulldogs punted on nine of their last 10 possessions, losing a fumble on the other. … Coastal Carolina overcame an early 20-point deficit to Richmond and drew to 27-19 early in the fourth quarter before losing 41-19. The Chanticleers suffered three interceptions in that final period. Richmond scored its final two touchdowns within 19 seconds in the game’s final two minutes. Coastal Carolina wide receiver Brandon Whitley caught six passes, two of them going for 48- and 13-yard touchdown passes. Runningback Eric O’Neal added 17 rushes for 99 yards and a touchdown and grabbed four receptions. Andrae Jacobs recorded 14 total tackles, a tackle for loss and a forced fumble to lead the Chanticleers defense. … Charleston Southern and Stony Brook took Saturday off.
Fullback Eric Breitenstein rushed for 230 yards and four touchdowns while quarterback Mitch Allen added 121 yards on the ground and a touchdown pass to lead Wofford to a 38-17 victory over rival Furman. The Terriers rushed for 400 yards, and their defense held the Paladins to 251 total yards. Ameet Pall produced three sacks. Wofford’s secondary picked off three passes. Wide receiver Adam Mims led Furman with 10 catches for 122 yards and a 39-yard touchdown pass from Cody Worley. … Scott Riddle threw for 416 yards and hit three receivers for touchdowns as Elon defeated Samford 24-19. Riddle completed 36 of 44 pass attempts without an interception, but the Phoenix had to overcome four lost fumbles to preserve the win. Elon spurted to a 17-0 lead with 8:33 to go in the second quarter. The Bulldogs rallied, however, drawing to within five early in the fourth quarter. Elon’s defense forced a turnover on downs and picked off a pass to keep Samford scoreless on its last two possessions. Riddle spread his passes around with Aaron Mellette (nine catches for 77 yards), Sean Jeffcoat (seven for 109), A. J. Harris (seven for 65), and Kierre Brown (five for 82) leading the way. Samford’s Bryce Smith contributed 17 total tackles to the Bulldogs defense. … True freshman quarterback Brandon Pechloff threw two touchdown passes to lead Western Carolina to a 24-13 SoCon victory on the road over The Citadel. The Catamounts led 17-3 at the half, but the Bulldogs rallied for 10 third-quarter points to pull within four. From there, however, Western Carolina held The Citadel scoreless. Over the final quarter-and-a-half, the Bulldogs missed a field goal, punted, lost a fumble and suffered an interception. Adam Hearns paced the Catamounts defense with eight solo tackles and 12 total tackles. Terrell Dallas led The Citadel with 96 yards rushing and a touchdown on 13 carries. Nate Harris of Western Carolina ran for 75 yards on 12 rushes. … Appalachian State, Georgia Southern, and UT-Chattanooga had an open date.
Preview of Games of Oct. 9
Big South Conference
Charleston Southern (2-2, 0-0) at Liberty (3-2, 0-0), 3:30 p.m.
Charleston Southern pulled off one of the biggest upsets in the conference last year when it knocked off Stony Brook. Can the Bucs pull off another one with a road win at Liberty? That will be a tall order, beating a Flames team that doesn’t lose often at home. Charleston Southern lost to Liberty by just seven a year ago. The Flames rank eighth nationally in total offense and 11th in scoring defense. Liberty leads the series 16-2.
VMI (2-2, 1-0) at Stony Brook (1-3, 0-0), 3:30 p.m.
Stony Brook begins its defense of its Big South title with a home game against the team currently at the top of the league. The Seawolves fought through a tough early season schedule, and they should be primed to take on Big South opponents for a change. VMI has already matched its win total from a year ago and capturing this game would be a boost in many ways. Stony Brook has won both of the games between the schools.
Coastal Carolina (1-4, 0-0), Gardner-Webb (2-3, 0-0), and Presbyterian College (0-5, 0-1) have the week off.
Chattanooga (2-2, 1-1) at The Citadel (2-3, 0-2), 2 p.m.
This is a transition game for the contestants. Chattanooga needs the win to remain in the chase for the conference title or a playoff berth. The Citadel needs the win to avoid falling deeper into the conference cellar. The Mocs appear to have the momentum entering this game while the Bulldogs have had trouble generating points. The Mocs lead this series 25-16-2.
Howard (1-4) at Furman (2-2, 1-1), 2 p.m.
The Paladins step out of the conference for an opportunity to bounce back from a disappointing effort against Wofford. It’s also the third straight opponent that lives on the ground game. You’d have to say Furman is 1-1 so far against that type of offense. Furman will be looking for support from the home crowd and a more focused effort to rebound and get set for the second half of the season. This is the first football game between Furman and Howard.
Elon (2-3, 1-1) at Appalachian State (4-0, 2-0), 3 p.m.
Not just a battle of the preseason No. 1 and No. 2 in the SoCon, this game features the top two total offense leaders. Elon quarterback Scott Riddle averages 309 yards of total offense a game while his counterpart on the Appalachian State sideline – DeAndre Presley – produces 294 yards per outing. With a win, the Mountaineers put themselves in a good place. The Phoenix would not be in such a good place with a second conference loss. Appalachian State leads the series 28-9-1.
Samford (2-3, 0-2) at Western Carolina (2-3, 1-1), 3 p.m.
Since losing to Tusculum, Western Carolina has played much more competitive football and appears to be on a bit more of a upward motion than the visiting Bulldogs. Samford makes its second trip to the Tar Heel State in as many weeks. The Bulldogs had hopes for a playoff push, but they will need to take this road game to not fall completely out of the race. Samford has won six of the seven games in the series.
Wofford (3-1, 1-0) at Georgia Southern (3-1, 1-0), 6 p.m.
Saturday night in Statesboro might resemble a 1970s game as a pair of strong option offenses take the field. Wofford (322 yards rushing per game) and Georgia Southern (273) rank No. 1 and 2 in the SoCon in rushing offense. They’re both doing well at stopping the run, too. The Eagles lead the conference, allowing just 84 yards a game on the ground while the Terriers are fourth at 120 a game. It’s working for both as Georgia Southern and Wofford rank No. 1 and 2 in scoring offense and scoring defense in the conference. In other words, this should be one really good game. The Eagles lead the series 9-6.