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SoCon Weekend Recap

By Southern Pigskin Staff
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A full slate of conference games has helped shake things up in the SoCon.

By now, have we not learned that every season is predictably unpredictable? That is what makes college football so great – that on any given Saturday, any team can beat anyone else.

This weekend will be remembered for two things: one major upset that helped break the conference race open again and put Wofford back in the driver’s seat, and for a number of crazy offensive performances. Who needs defense anyway?

Let’s try and make sense of this past weekend, shall we?


No. 5/6 Wofford 49, Elon 24

We will start off with a historic performance in Elon. For whatever reason, Wofford fullback Eric Breitenstein loves to play the Phoenix. Just last year, he finished with 217 yards and two touchdowns. So how do you top that? How about by running for a conference-record 321 yards and two touchdowns? And while we are at it, let’s add in the fact that quarterback Brian Kass rushed for three TDs and threw one more. Combine those two things, and you will likely come out on the winning side of things 99.99% of the time. The Terriers established themselves as the top team in the conference with their dominating win, though it did come at a cost – running back Donovan Johnson finished the game with one carry for 32 yards and a touchdown. The reason he didn’t get more? He sprained his ankle on the play.

The Phoenix figured it would be a long day after the Terriers’ first two offensive plays both went the distance. Before the Phoenix could blink, they were down 14-3. It was a far cry from their effort a week ago against Georgia Southern, but not all was bad for Elon. Receiver Aaron Mellette played more like his old self, catching 13 passes for 177 yards and two touchdowns. Quarterback Thomas Wilson also threw for 322 yards, two touchdowns and zero interceptions, quite impressive for someone who was so turnover-prone a year ago.

Next week, the Terriers face off at home against Furman, while the Phoenix travel west to take on Appalachian State.


No. 16/17 Appalachian State 55, Coastal Carolina 14

Who is ready for more ridiculous offensive numbers? Let’s start, as with most things Appalachian State, under center with quarterback Jamal Jackson. His numbers: 19-27 passing, 285 yards, three touchdowns, one interception; 10 carries for 54 yards and another touchdown. Then there is freshman receiver Sean Price, who had eight catches for 108 yards and two touchdowns. And then you get to running back Steven Miller, who finished with 17 rushes for 202 yards and two touchdowns. This was a part of an Appalachian State offense that finished with a mere 684 yards of offense. As I said before, who needs defense?

The Mountaineers looked like their teams of old, putting up insane offensive numbers along with 33 first downs and going 7-11 on third down conversions. Not to be overshadowed, the ASU defense played well also. They held the Chanticleer offense to just 304 yards, and limited quarterback Aramis Hillary, who ranked in the top ten in the nation in total offense, to just 178 yards. It was a vintage performance for the Mountaineers, and perhaps marks a turning point in their season. One thing that Coach Moore will not like though: 10 penalties for 112 yards. Good news is that should be fixable.

Now, the Mountaineers prepare to welcome the Elon Phoenix to The Rock next weekend.


Chattanooga 28, No. 15/11 The Citadel 10

Just when it looked like The Citadel established itself as one of the top teams in the FCS, the Mocs came to Charleston and crashed the party. Earlier last week, Citadel coach Kevin Higgins called Chattanooga one of the best teams at defending the triple option, and did the Mocs ever look the part on Saturday.

The Bulldogs, who came into the game averaging more than 400 yards per game on the ground, could only manage 232 yards – 132 of which came from Rickey Anderson. The Moc defense was led by safety D.J. Key (game-high 12 tackles), LB Shane Heatherly (eight tackles, one fumble recovery) and CB Kadeem Wise (eight tackles, one interception). Offensively, we saw how dangerous the two quarterback system can be for Chatty. The duo of Jacob Huesman and Terrell Robinson combined for 336 yards and three touchdowns, giving the Mocs the offensive spark they had been missing lately.

For the Bulldogs, there weren’t many bright spots apart from Anderson and DE Derek Douglas, who got his first sack since returning from an offseason ACL injury. The Citadel played like The Citadel of old, and now go from being at the top of the FCS world, to a three-way tie for second in the conference with Samford and Georgia Southern, all three of which trail Wofford. 

The playoff picture will clear up a little next week when The Citadel travels south to take on Samford in what looks like the early frontrunner for game of the week. Meanwhile, the Mocs have a week off to enjoy their victory before traveling to Furman.


                         Furman 45, Western Carolina 24

Greenville, South Carolina played host to a blowout victory for the Furman Paladins on Saturday, as they beat Western Carolina by a score of 45-24. The victory for Furman improved its record to 2-3 overall and 1-1 in the SoCon. While Furman is still not a top team in the conference, the Paladins are beginning to hit their stride and play good football. Jerodis Williams rushed for 239 yards along with two touchdowns, and added a 100-yard kickoff return for a score. The scene was similar to 2011, as Williams ran all over Western Carolina for 175 yards in last year's game.

The Paladins totaled 389 yards on the ground, and showed why "ground and pound" is still king in the SoCon. The passing game was also friendly to Furman, however, as Reese Hannon had over 200 yards passing and is beginning to receive talks of being one of the elite quarterbacks in the conference. Hannon completed 13 of 21 passes and showed great accuracy all game long for Furman.

The key play for Furman was the 100-yard kickoff return. The Paladins took off after the special teams explosion, putting 24 points on the board in the second quarter. As we have seen in several games this season, one play on special teams can swing the momentum of a game.

"We did a lot of things well today, both offensively and defensively, and executed very well at times to help give us a big win," said Furman head coach Bruce Fowler.

The execution of the Paladins offense was almost perfect all day long as Furman gashed Western Carolina for 619 total yards. The running game was the carrying force in a great game for Furman. In four games against Western Carolina, Jerodis Williams has 556 yards on 73 carries.

Furman travels next week to take on the top-ranked SoCon team in Wofford at 1:30.

No. 9 Georgia Southern 35, No. 25 Samford 16  

In what most considered to be the SoCon game of the week, the Eagles once again proved why they are one of the elite teams in the SoCon.

The defense for the Eagles played a great game overall, and contributed to the scoring efforts with a 72-yard pick six for Lavelle Westbrook. Georgia Southern's defense gave up chunks of yardage early, but really buckled down towards the end of the first half and through the remainder of the game. The Eagles' defense also only allowed 16 yards rushing in the second half, and combined for four sacks and seven tackles for loss.

The defense for the Eagles was not the only side of the ball that showed up either. Jerick McKinnon had over 150 yards rushing and found the end zone on runs of 41 and 67 yards. Along with McKinnon's career day, Dominique Swope had 134 yards and two touchdowns on 21 carries. The big story in the game for Georgia Southern was that Ezayi Youyoute did not play much of the game as Jerick McKinnon played a phenomenal game.

"We just didn't feel like Ezayi was getting into a rhythm, and put Jerick in there to give him a chance to get some carries," said head coach Jeff Monken. "He did such a nice job, we just left him in there".

The 67-yard touchdown for McKinnon was the game-changer for the Eagles, as momentum swung Georgia Southern's way and they never looked back.

It was not all Georgia Southern in the battle of top 25 teams, however. Andy Summerlin continued to impress as he had 291 yards passing and a touchdown for Samford. On a day where Georgia Southern's defense was on top of their game, Summerlin kept the game close. The Bulldogs defense forced a fumble late in the third quarter that was returned for a touchdown.

While Samford lost, they showed that their team can play well against anyone in the country.

Although it was not a flawless game by the Eagles offense, a 35-16 victory is enough to keep Georgia Southern in the discussion of the best in the FCS.

Georgia Southern travels to Western Carolina next week. Kickoff is set for 3:30 PM.


The SoCon Weekend Recap is put together by Southern Pigskin writers Russell Varner and David England.