By Myron Hosea
CSN So South Columnist
College Sporting News
EAGLES BACK ON TOP
Quarterback Jaybo Shaw threw and ran Georgia Southern to its big win at Wofford. Late in the first half with Wofford leading 7-3, Shaw threw a deep pass to Jerick McKinnon to get the Eagles to the Wofford 21. He then found Zach Walker on the sideline, and Walker got out of tackles and found the end zone as time expired. That gave the Eagles a 10-7 lead at halftime.
The Terriers had a shot at regaining the lead on the first offensive possession of the second half, but a dropped pass that would have ended with a score instead turned into a punt. Georgia Southern then went 90 yards to snatch away Wofford’s hopes for a league title. Shaw ran for a touchdown on that drive and added two more.
Backup B-Back Dominique Swope stunned Wofford with repeated runs up the middle. He finished with 165 yards on 27 carries.
REST OF SOCON PLAYOFF PICTURE UNCERTAIN
Heading into this past weekend, the Southern Conference appeared in good shape for four teams in the playoffs. Now, while Georgia Southern is locked in, the other three teams have reason to be nervous.
Wofford’s loss makes the game at Chattanooga this Saturday a must win. The Terriers are playoff worthy, but you never want to give the selection committee reason to pause and four losses or less than seven D-I wins could do that.
Appalachian State appears to be in good shape, but like Wofford, you don’t want to submit a resume with four losses. So the Mountaineers will have to be careful in their trip to Elon this Saturday.
They should be wary because that Phoenix team very likely knocked Furman out of the playoff picture. The Paladins were perhaps the hottest team in the league with a winning streak that included wins over Wofford and Appalachian State. For the second year in a row, however, Furman blew a second-half lead in the final home game of the regular season and suffered a difficult loss. The Paladins finished 5-3 in the SoCon, but they are 6-4 overall and finish at Florida. Elon, by the way, will be playing for a winning season when they face Appalachian State at home.
BIG SOUTH ON THE LINE
You can’t line up a conference championship game much better than what you have when Liberty visits Stony Brook Saturday to decide the conference title. Consider:
· Both teams are 7-3 overall and 5-0 in the Big South.
· Stony Brook has won seven straight, Liberty six.
· Stony Brook leads the league in scoring (39.5) while Liberty is second (36.4).
· Liberty is best in the Big South in scoring defense (20.1); Stony Brook is second (21.0).
· Stony Brook is first in total offense (440.6) and total defense (321.6) while Liberty is second in both (422.9 and 323.9).
· Stony Brook has the Big South’s top rushing offense (287.4) and best rushing defense (94.8). Liberty is second in rushing defense (130.1).
· Liberty leads the league in passing offense (261.2) and is second in pass defense (193.8).
There are leading individual players, too. Liberty quarterback Mike Brown is first in total offense at 302 yards per game. Stony Brook running backs Miguel Maysonet (132.7) and Brock Jackolski (110.8) are one and two in Big South rushing. Liberty wide receiver Chris Summers is the top receiver with 54 catches for 774 yards.
Clearly, this game will be a great way to close out the regular season in the Big South Conference and decide the champion.
FIRST CHANGE HAS OCCURRED
Western Carolina University announced Sunday that head coach Dennis Wagner has resigned, effectively immediately. Assistant head coach Mark Rhea will serve as interim head coach for Saturday’s season finale at home versus Coastal Carolina. He will remain as the interim until the new coach has been selected. The Catamounts went winless in the SoCon this season and are 1-9 overall. The lone win came against Division II Mars Hill.
OTHER GAMES IN THE REGULAR SEASON’S LAST SATURDAY
The Southern Conference once again will send some of its teams into the football cauldron that is the SEC. The 2011 SEC-SoCon line up features The Citadel (4-6) at South Carolina, Samford (6-4) at Auburn, Furman (6-4) at Florida, and Georgia Southern (9-1) at Alabama. The other games are Wofford (7-3/5-2) at Chattanooga (5-5/3-4) and Appalachian State (7-3/5-2) at Elon (5-5/3-4).
There is one Big South-SoCon meeting as Coastal Carolina (6-4) travels to Western Carolina (1-9).
Two other Big South games are on tap. Charleston Southern (0-10/0-5) ventures to Presbyterian College (3-7/2-3), and Gardner-Webb (4-6/2-3) travels to VMI (1-9/1-4).
LAST SATURDAY’S GAMES
Trailing 20-13 at the half, Elon scored 28 second-half points to beat Furman 41-34. Linebacker Joshua Jones, who made 13 total tackles, returned an interception 40 yards for a touchdown that proved to be the winning difference. A. J. Harris rushed for 111 yards on 31 carries for the Phoenix while Thomas Wilson threw four touchdown passes. Furman quarterback Chris Forcier threw for 344 yards and three touchdowns.
Ben Dupree scored two first-quarter touchdowns for The Citadel, but the Bulldogs of Charleston failed to hold the lead as the Bulldogs of Samford rallied to win 19-14. Quarterback Dustin Taliaferro completed 34 of 45 passes for 240 yards, but it was his two-yard touchdown run with six seconds left in the game that won it. Kelsey Pope caught 17 of Taliaferro’s passes. The win clinched a winning season for Samford.
Appalachian State jumped to a 26-0 halftime lead and kept possession of the Old Mountain Jug in beating Western Carolina 46-14. Jamal Jackson threw for 261 yards, and Brian Quick caught seven passes for 111 yards and a touchdown.
While Liberty had the week off, Stony Brook tuned up with a 76-28 thumping of Gardner-Webb on the road. It was another big day for running backs Miguel Maysonet (15 for 149) and Brock Jackolski (14 for 107 and four touchdowns). Quarterback Kyle Essington threw for 190 yards and three touchdowns. The game featured another 100-yard rusher. Gardner-Webb’s Kenny Little ran 23 times for 153 yards. Teammate Ricky Rhodes added 83 yards and two scores on nine carries.
Charleston Southern figured that conference and coastal rival Coastal Carolina would be as good as anyone for the Bucs’ first win of the season. It looked good for a while. The Bucs led until 8:49 in the fourth quarter before falling behind by 14. Charleston Southern cut it to seven with 3:33 and then forced a punt. The Bucs moved from their 15 to the Chanticleers’ 24. That’s when Coastal’s Philip George intercepted a pass at the one-yard line in the final minute to seal the win. Chanticleers quarterback Aramis Hillary threw three touchdowns passes while his Charleston Southern counterpart, Richard Mounce, threw for 397 yards and four touchdowns.
Presbyterian College continued to progress in the win column. From zero in 2009 to two in 2010 to now three in 2011. The Blue Hose rolled to a 38-6 win over visiting VMI. Quarterback Ryan Singer ran for 106 yards and two scores and passed for 182 yards and a pair of touchdowns. Lance Byrd added 117 yards and a touchdown on the ground. The Blue Hose outgained the Keydets 491 to 222. VMI linebacker A. J. Gross made 13 solo tackles and picked off a pass.