By Myron Hosea
So South Columnist
College Sporting News
The Big South Conference, meanwhile, launched its 2011 conference slate. The three teams that tied for the 2010 crown and are expected to battle for it again – Coastal Carolina, Liberty, and Stony Brook – all won.
In Statesboro, the Eagles had to stop Chattanooga’s two-point try with 1:44 left in the game to hold on for the 28-27 victory over the Mocs. While it was good news for Georgia Southern, it marked another frustrating loss for the Mocs. Chattanooga, expected to challenge for the league crown, has gone winless in its first three SoCon games. Those losses have been by two, one, and one.
The Eagles took a 28-21 lead with 6:49 remaining on a one-yard touchdown run by quarterback Jaybo Shaw. Running back Robert Brown paced the Georgia Southern running game with 178 yards on 17 carries.
Chattanooga starting quarterback B. J. Coleman went down with an injury in the first half, and Terrell Robinson replaced him. Robinson ran for 114 yards and three touchdowns. His five-yard scoring run brought the Mocs to within one, but the Georgia Southern defense stopped him on the two-point conversion.
Wofford improved to 3-0 in the Southern Conference by swamping The Citadel with early scores. The Terriers raced to a 43-0 lead before finishing with a 43-14 win. Its running game piled up yardage and points as usual, but Wofford also scored in the kicking game when Brenton Bersin returned a punt 76 yards for a touchdown.
Samford may have made a move in the standings with an important road win at Furman, 26-21. Bulldogs quarterback Dustin Taliaferro and Furman quarterback Chris Forcier battled throughout the day as each of them tossed three touchdown passes. Forcier won the yardage battle, 356 to 234, but he also suffered three picks.
The running game proved to be the difference. Samford rushed for 181 yards to 71 for Furman. Fabian Truss carried the ball 26 times for 136 yards for the Bulldogs while Furman’s Jerodis Williams, the SoCon’s leading rusher, managed just 25 yards on 10 attempts.
Elon has shown a knack for winning close games. The Phoenix, which beat North Carolina Central 23-22, are 2-1 in the league thanks to close wins. They beat The Citadel by three in overtime and last Saturday dropped Western Carolina 38-31 on Thomas Wilson’s one-yard touchdown pass to Aaron Mellette with 2:13 to go in the contest.
The Catamounts had tied the game with a pair of fourth-quarter touchdowns before Mellette – who made eight catches for 124 yards – snared the short scoring pass. Western Carolina’s Josh Cockrell caught just two passes, but both were long touchdowns covering 61 and 66 yards.
Coastal Carolina, which won the Big South’s first automatic qualifier spot last season, stayed hot with a 34-10 home win over VMI. Quarterback Aramis Hillary ran 14 times for 114 yards and a score. He also completed 14 of his 23 pass attempts for 245 yards with two touchdowns and no interceptions. Defensive back Josh Norman led the Chanticleers on defense with seven tackles and an interception while breaking up three passes.
The usual sparks for the Liberty offense were present at Gardner-Webb Saturday as the Flames downed the Runnin’ Bulldogs 35-3. Quarterback Mike Brown passed for 363 yards and three touchdowns. Chris Summers caught nine passes for 133 yards and a touchdown while Tommy Shaver (4) snagged four passes for 110 yards and a score. Bulldogs running back Kenny Little topped the 100-yard mark again with 103 yards on 17 carries.
Stony Brook, coming off the loss of three-year starting quarterback Michael Coulter, turned to Kyle Essington, and he didn’t disappoint them. In his first start, Essington threw four touchdown passes and ran for another as the Seawolves defeated Presbyterian College 42-24. Brock Jackolski supported his quarterback by rushing for 130 yards while Matt Brevi grabbed five passes for 126 yards and two touchdowns. The Blue Hose cut Stony Brook’s lead to 21-17 early in the third period, but the Seawolves tallied the next 21 points for the win.
Every team in the So South region will be in play on Oct. 15. The slate includes four conference games in the SoCon and three conference games in the Big South. Each league has a team that will play a non-conference game.
Virginia-Wise (4-2) at Wofford (4-1/3-0), 1:30 p.m.
The Terriers welcome a NAIA squad from the Commonwealth of Virginia.
Appalachian State (3-2/1-1) at The Citadel (2-3/1-3), 2:00 p.m.
The Mountaineers had an off week to recover from their loss at Wofford and prepare for another visit to the Palmetto State. The Bulldogs fell hard following their big upset at Chattanooga and will have to bounce back in a hurry.
Elon (4-2/2-1) at Samford (3-2/1-2), 3:00 p.m.
Both the Phoenix and the Bulldogs notched big wins last week. This has become a critical game if either of these teams is going to stay in the race.
Furman (3-2/2-1) at Georgia Southern (5-0/4-0), 3:00 p.m.
The Paladins seemed to be on a roll until they hit a wall against Samford. Going to Statesboro to play the number one Eagles is not a great way to recover. However, Georgia Southern best be careful because things don’t always go according to plan in this series. The visiting team has won the last four games in this series.
Western Carolina (1-4/0-3) at Chattanooga (2-4/0-3), 6:00 p.m.
This is not the game we expected in terms of a battle for eighth place in the league. Either will take a win without quibbling over the margin.
Charleston Southern (0-5/0-0) at VMI (0-5/0-1), 1:30 p.m.
This will be a big day for one of these programs as it will get a mark under “W” in the standings. One team will stay alive, at least numerically, in the league.
Gardner-Webb (1-4/0-1) at Presbyterian College (1-4/0-1), 2:00 p.m.
The Blue Hose ended their long losing streak by defeating the Bulldogs last season. Like the game above, the winner of this one stays alive as well.
Coastal Carolina (4-1/1-0) at Liberty (3-3/1-0), 3:30 p.m.
It’s time for Big Game Number One in the Big South. One of these teams will get the jump in the race for the crown and the playoff spot. The Flames average 420 yards of total offense a game while the Chanticleers surrender just 304 total yards per outing.
St. Anselm (0-5) at Stony Brook (2-3/1-0), 6:00 p.m.
The Seawolves should have a pretty good opportunity for pulling their overall record to .500 as they host the Division II Hawks.