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SoCon Weekend Recap

By Southern Pigskin Staff
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Georgia Southern won a triple overtime thriller against Chattanooga to stay on top of the SoCon standings.

As the dust settles on another SoCon weekend, the conference title and playoff picture becomes increasingly clear, as Georgia Southern, Wofford and Appalachian State have distanced themselves from the rest of the pack. Now, Chattanooga, Samford and The Citadel must scramble as they try to gain a postseason berth. Let’s take a look back at this past weekend.

Furman 31, Elon 17

The Paladins did indeed get their revenge on the Phoenix for knocking them out of the playoffs a year ago, as their balanced offense kept Elon on its heels all day. Furman finished with 181 passing yards and 186 rushing yards, led by none other than running back Jerodis Williams (95 rushing yards, two touchdowns). Quarterback Reese Hannon finished with 181 yards on 11-of-19 with one interception, and linebacker Gary Wilkins had nine tackles and two sacks.

The backbreaker came midway through the second quarter, when the Phoenix were driving in an attempt to tie the game at 14. Linebacker Mitch McGrath forced a fumble and Marcus McMorris took the ball 95 yards to the house and give Furman a 21-7 lead – a lead that Furman would not relinquish.

Receiver Aaron Mellette had another big day, catching 14 passes for 194 yards and two touchdowns. Quarterback Thomas Wilson completed 23-of-33 passes for 283 yards and two touchdowns, while linebackers Jonathan Spain and Blake Thompson each finished with 11 tackles.

Furman travels north to the Rock next week to take on Appalachian State, while the Phoenix head to Charleston to face off against The Citadel.

Appalachian State 38, Western Carolina 27

The Old Mountain Jug will not be going anywhere, as the Mountaineers blitzed the Catamounts early and often en route to another victory over their hated rivals. App’s offense put on a show, totaling 579 yards of offense, led by running back Steven Miller (245 rushing yards and a touchdown), receiver Sean Price (10 catches for 142 yards and a touchdown) and quarterback Logan Hallock (20-of-21 passing, 230 yards and two touchdowns). Defensively, Jeremy Kimbrough had himself a game – nine tackles, 3.5 tackles for loss and three sacks.

The reason you do not see Jamal Jackson’s name is because he was knocked out of action in the second quarter. Boone can breathe a sigh of relief though – Jackson was cleared to return to action in the second half, but the coaches decided to stick with Hallock at the helm. It proved to be a wise choice, as the sophomore completed his first 20 passes.

The Catamounts made a late rally, led by who else but quarterback Troy Mitchell (13-of-22 passing, 167 passing yards, one touchdown, one interception; 17 rushes for 91 yards and two touchdowns). Western had 20 points in the second half and had the Mountaineers on their toes late. Unfortunately, it was not enough. Rock Williams finished with 23 tackles, and Sertonuse Harris and Courtland Carson each totaled 16 tackles.

The Mountaineers return home to take on Furman next week, and the Catamounts try to bounce back at home against Chattanooga.

Wofford 24, The Citadel 21

The Citadel has been impressive in big games and Saturday was no different for the Terriers. Wofford has been very impressive in the rushing category and we knew Eric Breitenstein would be the work horse back and carry the load for them this past Saturday. Breitenstein carried the ball 23 times, but had, for his standards, an average day with only 110 yards, although he did score two touchdowns. For The Citadel, it was an all around team performance, as eight players had at least one carry. As usual, however, Wofford's defense played a great game, helping the Terriers get the 24-21 win.

The game came down to which defense would bend but not break. The answer was the Terriers' defense, as they limited The Citadel to seven points in the first half. For Wofford, Stephon Shelton had a great game and was all over the field displaying speed and great instincts as he led the team with six tackles. The defense for Wofford forced three fumbles and that was the key for the Terriers down the stretch.

The key play of the game came with just 57 seconds remaining before the intermission. Eric Breitenstein had a four yard run for a touchdown which gave Wofford a two-possession lead, and the Terriers never looked back after the score. Late in the first quarter, a missed field goal for The Citadel would prove to be pivotal, as Wofford only won by three. The matchup was a solid game on paper and it turned out to be a closer game than anyone predicted. With the win, Wofford improves to 7-1 overall, and 5-1 in conference play. The Citadel drops to the .500 mark at 4-4 overall and 3-3 in conference play.

Wofford travels to Samford next week to take on the Bulldogs. Kickoff is scheduled for 1 P.M. ET. The Citadel remains at home to take on Elon at 2 P.M.

Georgia Southern 39, Chattanooga, 31 3OT

I deemed this as the SoCon Game of the Week, and it certainly lived up to its billing. The triple overtime thriller was the best game of the SoCon season thus far through nine weeks of play. The stats favored the Eagles in almost every category, but the Mocs were not going to lie down to the second-best team in the FCS ranks. As we have seen in the past few week, Jerick McKinnon continues to play at a very high level. McKinnon has truly been the key to the Eagles' triple option offense reaching its pinnacle. He carried the ball 28 times for over 140 yards and three touchdowns. With McKinnon, the Eagles' offense causes many sleepless nights for defensive coordinators across the SoCon landscape.

For Georgia Southern, the stat that means the most is time of possession, and that was where the Eagles dominated on Saturday, holding the ball for 17 minutes more than the Mocs. The game started with a seven-play, 64-yard touchdown drive that was capped by a 29-yard touchdown run by Darien Robinson. It appeared early that Georgia Southern could possibly run away with the game, as on the kickoff Chattanooga's Marquis Green fumbled and Georgia Southern recovered. The Eagles scored a touchdown on that drive, giving Georgia Southern a 14-0 lead.

The Mocs were far from beaten, though, as they battled back and forced the game into overtime. The third overtime held the key play to the game, as Georgia Southern got the ball and scored, also getting the two point conversion. The Mocs got the ball in the third extra period and the Eagles defense forced a fourth down, where Darius Eubanks and J.J. Wilcox tackled Jacob Huesman for the game-winning stand.

Georgia Southern returns home next week to face Appalachian State. Kickoff is set for 2 P.M. Chattanooga travels to Western Carolina, where kickoff is set for 3:30 P.M.

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