By Myron Hosea
CSN South Columnist
As the season steams toward its end (we’re already at week eight – really?), there are three games that have the biggest impact for the weekend.
Two are from the SoCon, one from the Big South – Chattanooga visits Furman, Wofford travels to Elon, and Coastal Carolina hosts Stony Brook. Let’s take a closer look at each.
Chattanooga at Furman
The quick revival of Chattanooga football could get a boost with a road win at one of the program’s long-time nemesis, Furman.
Both teams remain in the chase for the league’s top two spots as well as for a playoff berth. Each team has lost to one of the SoCon’s unbeatens – the Mocs to Appalachian State, the Paladins to Wofford.
The winner of this game could have an inside track to second or third place and a potential playoff berth.
It’s an interesting pairing of two of the league’s better scoring teams (Chattanooga 31.7, Furman 32.5) and two the SoCon’s better scoring defenses (Chattanooga 24.2, Furman 21.5).
Furman’s secondary has been itching to face a strong passing attack. Be careful what you wish for because Saturday those defensive backs will see B. J. Coleman who throws for 240 yards a game.
Wofford at Elon
The Phoenix face a tall climb to finish in the top two or three spots in the league and may have already slipped to spoiler status. Either way, they have the opportunity to derail Wofford’s run this weekend.
Both teams have strong offenses. Elon is second in the league in total offense (442 yards a game), and Wofford is third (426).
Beyond that it’s advantage Terriers. They have the number one rushing offense (349) in the nation and will face the eighth-best rush defense (208) in the SoCon.
Elon does have the conference’s best passing offense, but Wofford’s pass defense – second in the conference – may counteract that. Four Wofford players are in the SoCon’s top 10 rushers.
Stony Brook at Coastal Carolina
Neither team can be pleased with a 1-4 non-conference record, but the Seawolves and the Chanticleers have to be happy to sit 1-0 in the Big South.
That is the prime path now anyway – win the conference and capture the AQ playoff spot. While a loss this weekend doesn’t mean disaster, it will make winning the league extremely tough.
Both teams have solid running games. Stony Brook is first in the Big South, Coastal Carolina third. Seawolves running back Brock Jackolski leads the conference with 91.5 rushing yards a game.
Don’t go to sleep on the passing attacks or the defenses. This game should be close, and the winner will have the opportunity to figure in the title chase.
Review of Games of October 16, 2010
Big South Conference
Gardner-Webb 35, Charleston Southern 25
Patrick Hall scored two touchdowns and three other Bulldogs added touchdowns as Gardner-Webb defeated Charleston Southern 35-25 in Charleston.
The Bulldogs had to withstand the efforts of the Bucs’ Gerald Stevenson who returned kickoffs 92 and 81 yards for touchdowns and caught a scoring pass. He also produced 65 yards rushing and 47 yards receiving.
Meanwhile, Hall ran for 129 yards on 23 carries. Bulldogs quarterbacks John Rock and Chandler Browning threw for 104 and 106 yards respectively.
Liberty 41, VMI 7
Wide receiver Chris Summers continued his stellar play with touchdown receptions of 52, 23, and 17 yards as Liberty rolled past VMI 41-7. The Flames roared to a 31-0 halftime lead, and the Keydets did not score until late in the game.
Liberty outgained VMI 174-38 on the ground and 447-213 overall. VMI’s A. J. Gross made 16 total tackles, including two for losses.
Coastal Carolina 35, Presbyterian 7
Coastal Carolina built a 28-0 lead in the third quarter and coasted by Presbyterian College 35-7. Chanticleer quarterback Zach MacDowall ran for 97 yards and a touchdown on 11 carries and completed 11 of 21 pass attempts for 204 yards and three more scores.
Coastal Carolina’s defense produced four sacks and three interceptions, two of which led to touchdowns. Trandon Dendy ran for 80 yards and Tyler Robbins caught six passes for 87 yards to lead the Blue Hose.
Lafayette 28, Stony Brook 21
Stony Brook suffered another close non-conference loss, as it could not generate a comeback in losing 28-21 to previously winless Lafayette.
The Leopards expanded their lead to 28-14 late in the game on a one-yard touchdown run after the Seawolves turned the ball over on downs at that spot.
Stony Brook scored one last time with nine seconds remaining. Seawolves running back Brock Jackolski rushed 15 times for 104 yards while Matt Brevi caught 10 passes for 75 yards and a score.
Wofford 45, Western Carolina 14
Three Wofford players rushed for more than 100 yards, and the Terriers gained 501 yards on the ground to defeat Western Carolina 45-14 in Spartanburg.
Quarterback Mitch Allen ran for a career-best 178 yards while fullbacks Eric Breitenstein and Donovan Johnson rushed for 149 and 123 yards. Allen and Breitenstein each scored two touchdowns on the ground.
Still, the Catamounts were making a game of it in the second quarter. They turned an interception into a one-yard touchdown run by Michael Johnson (69 yards rushing).
A short time later, Randy Pressley snatched an Allen pitchout and raced 51 yards to put Western Carolina up 14-9.
Wofford, however, scored two touchdowns in the final three minutes of the first half to take control.
Furman 27, Samford 10
Furman held Samford scoreless in the second half, defeating the Bulldogs in Birmingham 27-10.
Defensive backs Nathan Wade (nine solo tackles) and Ryan Steed (10) led the Paladins defense. Each intercepted a pass, and Steed took his back 52 yards for a first-half touchdown.
Freshman kicker Ray Early booted two field goals, including a 52-yarder. Chris Evans ran for 157 yards and a touchdown on 23 carries for Samford, but the Bulldogs could generate just 100 yards through the air.
Appalachian State 39, The Citadel 10
Erik Clanton returned a fumble on the game’s first offensive possession 40 yards to help The Citadel take an early lead, Appalachian State ran away from there for a 39-10 victory at home.
Mountaineers quarterback DeAndre Presley tied a record with five touchdown passes – including 65- and 73-yarders. He threw for 241 yards. Justin Wray and D. J. Smith led the Appalachian State defense with 12 tackles each.
Chattanooga 35, Georgia Southern 27
Chattanooga, trailing at halftime, scored 21 unanswered points in the second half and held off Georgia Southern 35-27.
B. J. Coleman’s 11-yard scoring run and J. J. Jackson’s three-yard touchdown run boosted the Mocs into the lead in the third quarter. Coleman then connected with Brian Sutherland for a 43-yard touchdown pass to extend Chattanooga’s lead to 15 points.
The Eagles got big-play scores from Tobi Akinniranye (60-yard touchdown run) and on a 58-yard touchdown pass from Jaybo Shaw to J. J. Wilcox. … Elon had the week off.
Preview of Games of October 23, 2010
Big South Conference
VMI (2-4/1-2) at Charleston Southern (2-4/0-2), 11:30 a.m.
The hopes of the new season have hit reality’s wall as the Keydets and the Bucs will meet to avoid sixth place in the Big South. Neither offense has generated lots of yardage. Charleston Southern has won the last four games of the series to lead 5-4.
Presbyterian College (0-6/0-2) at Gardner-Webb (3-3/1-0), 1:30 p.m.
Back in the day, these schools played each other as members of the South Atlantic Conference, primarily in the NAIA. Gardner-Webb has had the upper hand recently, winning the last three games to even the series at 16-16. PC is looking for any way out of its long losing streak, but they will face a tough assignment in the Bulldogs. Gardner-Webb will pit its Big South-best defense against a Blue Hose offense that ranks sixth in total offense in the league.
Stony Brook (2-4/1-0) at Coastal Carolina (2-4/1-0), 7:30 p.m.
The Seawolves and the Chanticleers bring their identical records into the big game of the weekend in the Big South Conference. The winner jumps to front-and-center in the league title chase while the loser has to retrench. There’s not a long history to this series with Stony Brook having won the two meetings. Those two wins, however, came by just a total of 10 points.
Liberty (5-2/2-0) has an open date.
Georgia Southern (3-3/1-2) at The Citadel (2-5/0-4), 1:00 p.m.
The Eagles and the Bulldogs switched to the run-oriented option offense to generate new results in 2010. It’s worked somewhat for Georgia Southern, not so much for The Citadel, which is firmly ensconced in last place. Georgia Southern is second in the league in rushing offense (265) while The Citadel is fourth (240), but both are top nationally. The Bulldogs have to make a move now to rise from that spot, just as the Eagles need to stop their two-game losing streak to get back in the top half of the league. Georgia Southern leads the series 15-4.
Wofford (5-1/3-0) at Elon (2-4, 1-2), 1:30 p.m.
The last time the Terriers visited Elon they scored early and often on the way to a blow out win. The Phoenix returned the favor a bit in Spartanburg last year. Wofford leads the series 22-11.
Chattanooga (4-2/3-1) at Furman (4-2/2-1), 2:00 p.m.
In the years Furman regularly challenged for the SoCon title, this was one of the series it dominated. The Mocs aren’t so easy to dominate right now, and this should be a great game in Greenville. The Paladins own a 26-13 advantage in the series.
Appalachian State (6-0/4-0) at Western Carolina (2-5/1-3), 3:00 p.m.
The battle for the Old Mountain Jug will be renewed in Cullowhee Saturday. The Catamounts will have to stage a perfect game and force some errors to have chance of recapturing the trophy for winning this match up of schools from the North Carolina Mountains. Appalachian State has won 24 straight conference games and leads this series 55-18-1.
Samford (3-4/1-3) has an open date.