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SoCon Recap

By BJ Bennett
SouthernPigskin.com
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A week one recap for the Southern Conference.

Week one in the Southern Conference featured the debut of new teams, Mercer and Virginia Military Institute. Both squads played in shootouts, with the Bears defeating Reinhardt 45-42 and the Al Cobb-led Keydets losing to Bucknell 42-38. If anything, Thursday for Mercer and Saturday for VMI was exciting for both programs. The victory for the Bears was an introduction back to the SoCon for former Furman head coach Bobby Lamb. 

"I want to give credit to our kids for not giving up," Lamb explained. "Reinhardt gave us all we could handle and we hung in there in the fourth quarter and finally made enough plays to get the win."

Chattanooga, Samford, Western Carolina and Wofford all opened with FBS opponents. The Mocs and Catamounts very nearly upset Central Michigan and South Florida, respectively, and the Terriers were with Georgia Tech for much of their game. Defense, with standout efforts from linebacker Muhasabi Wakeel and lineman Derrick Lott, was the theme for Chattanooga in a 20-16 loss. Offense, see quarterback Troy Mitchell, led the way for Western Carolina, who scored 31 points.

The Citadel produced two 100-yard rushers, Tyler Renew and Jake Stenson, in head coach Mike Houston's first game. Nationally-ranked Coastal Carolina proved to be too much, however, in a 31-16 loss. Furman dominated Gardner-Webb, holding the Bulldogs to less than 200 yards of total offense. The unfortunate storyline, though, is that the Paladins have lost starting quarterback Reese Hannon for the season due to a broken ankle.

"We're devastated by the loss of Reese Hannon to injury," coach Bruce Fowler stated. "He put in a ton of work in preparation for the season and is a major part of our team from a performance and leadership standpoint, so this is a big blow to our squad and creates a huge void we'll have to fill.  Our thoughts and prayers are certainly with Reese and his family at this time."

It's hard to evaluate the league after one week, with many FBS pairings, but the season, for the new-look Southern Conference, is underway.

BJ Bennett - B.J. Bennett is SouthernPigskin.com's founder and publisher. He is the co-host of "Three & Out" with Kevin Thomas and Ben Troupe on the "Southern Pigskin Radio Network". Email: bj@espncoastal.com / Twitter: @BJBennettSports