#3 Georgia Southern 31, #9 Wofford 10
SPARTANBURG, S.C. - Following a 21-point second-half scoring outburst the Georgia Southern Football team (9-1, 7-1) found itself hoisting their first Southern Conference Championship Trophy since 2004 after a 31-10 victory over the Wofford Terriers (7-3, 5-2).
Jaybo Shaw converted three second-half drives of 10 or more plays to break open a nip-and-tuck first half. Shaw converted all into short-yardage touchdowns, tying a career high for third time.
The Eagles scored all three touchdowns in just four second-half drives. GSU scored on their opening drive of the second half, marching 90 yards on 11 plays and added a second third-quarter score on a near seven-minute drive.
Georgia Southern ran out the clock in the fourth quarter after taking control of the ball with 6:52 remaining in the half. Shaw capped off a five minute 11-play drive with a two-yard touchdown score. The Eagles kept control of the ball with an onside kick and took two knees to run out the clock for their first outright SoCon Title since 2002.
GSU bounced back from a pair of season lows in the rushing column with their best rushing performance since a 48-14 victory over Presbyterian College. GSU ran for 290 yards on the ground and amassed 401 total yards of offense behind a career-best 165 rushing yards from Dominque Swope.
The Terriers were set to enter the looker room with a halftime lead but a fumble by Donovan Johnson and a 21-yard touchdown pass from Shaw to Zach Walker ended that thought.
The Eagles scored with time expiring after covering 46 yards in just 34 seconds and led 10-7 at the halftime break. Adrian Mora netted his 12th field goal in as many attempts this season and gave Georgia Southern a 3-0 lead on their opening drive of the contest.
The Terriers erased an early second-quarter scoring opportunity for the Eagles by forcing a fumble on an errant pitch to Nico Hickey which led to an 80-yard touchdown drive. Mitch Allen ran 31 yards to cap off the eight-play drive and put the Terriers on top 7-3 with 13:20 to play in the half.
Elon 41, #21 Furman 34
GREENVILLE, S.C. - Joshua Jones made 13 tackles and returned an interception for what proved to be a game-winning, fourth-quarter touchdown as the Elon Phoenix snapped a three-game skid by upsetting 21st-ranked Furman 41-34 on Saturday. The win was the fourth in a row in the series for Elon. The Paladins had a three-game winning streak snapped and fell to 6-4 overall and 5-3 in the Southern Conference.
Offensively, Elon (5-5, 3-4 SoCon) racked up 442 yards, including 111 yards rushing by A.J. Harris. The 100-yard game was the first by a Phoenix on the ground this season. Thomas Wilson completed 20 of his 26 passes for 279 yards and a career-best four touchdowns in the victory. Wilson's primary target was All-American Aaron Mellette who caught eight passes for 144 yards and two scores.
Jones' 13 stops gave him 101 on the year, the first 100-tackle season for the senior. He also moved into fifth place on Elon's career tackles chart with 332 as he passed Ernie Tootoo (323 from 1978-81).
With the game tied at 27, David Wood brought a kickoff back 40 yards to the 45 before Wilson looked deep down the Furman sideline where he found a streaking Mellette wide open for a 55-yard score to put the Phoenix back in front 34-27.
Still clinging to the one-score lead, Jones picked off a Chris Forcier pass and raced 40 yards for the score. It was the second time in his career that Jones brought an INT back for six points.
Elon began the game with the ball at its own 17 and quickly drove near midfield before Harris was stripped of the ball by Kadarron Anderson. The fumble was picked up by Ryan Steed who returned the ball 48 yards for a touchdown as the Paladins took an early 7-0 lead.
The Phoenix answered with an 80-yard drive that ended when Wilson rolled right and found an open Matt Eastman for a two-yard touchdown pass. Elon kept the ball on the ground for the majority of the drive, running the ball 10 times on the 12-play drive. Harris got the majority of the carries, toting it eight times for 60 yards. The PAT failed when the snap was mishandled and Elon trailed 7-6.
Furman faced a third and 16 at its own 45 when Forcier lofted a pass over the middle for Colin Anderson who raced to the Elon 10 for a 45-yard pick-up. Three plays later, Forcier found Anderson in the right side of the end zone for a four-yard TD pass as the Paladin lead stretched to 14-6 with 1:31 to go in the first quarter.
After getting pinned at its own six-yard line by a Furman punt, Elon methodically marched down the field before Wilson tossed a perfect pass to Mellette down the left sideline for a 22-yard touchdown strike as the Phoenix pulled within a point, 14-13. On second-and-eight from its own eight, Rasaun Rorie adjusted to a Wilson pass and hauled in a 35-yard completion up to the 43. Later in the drive, Wilson found Mellette for a 17-yard connection to the Furman 42.
The Paladins responded immediately, going 65 yards on just three plays. The big play of the drive was a 61-yard pass from Forcier to Daniel McFadden. Two plays later, Forcier ran it in from two yards out. The snap on the PAT was muffed and Elon found itself down seven, 20-13, with 6:02 to go in the half.
In the first half, Elon out-gained Furman 239-189 in total yardage. The Phoenix ran for 118 yards in the half on 22 carries, averaging 7.0 yards per carry. Wilson completed 10 of his 13 passes for 121 yards and two touchdowns.
The Phoenix defense held Jerodis Williams, the league's second-leading rusher, to just four yards on seven carries in the first 30 minutes.
Elon began its second drive of the second half at its own 46 after a Furman punt. On second-and-eight, Mellette hauled in a 16-yard completion. On the next snap, Harris raced 21 yards through the Paladin defense to take it to the Furman's 15-yard line. From there, Wilson threw to the front right corner of the end zone where Christian Dennis went up and made the touchdown grab. Adam Shreiner's PAT knotted the game at 20 with 5:11 left in the third quarter.
Furman looked like it was going to end an Elon drive quickly late in the third quarter as the Phoenix lined up to punt from the Paladin 46-yard line, but a roughing the kicker penalty kept the drive alive for the maroon and gold. On second-and-23 from the Furman 23, Wilson connected with Dennis for nine yards before picking up another four with a pass to Mellette. That set up a fourth-and-inches before Dontay Taylor dove over the pile for three yards to the seven. After he took it to the one on the next play, Taylor dove over the top of the pile again, this time getting into the end zone for the eighth time this season to give Elon its first lead of the game, 27-20 with 12:35 to play.
The Paladins returned the ensuing kickoff to midfield and then gained 24 yards on third-and-four to move to the Elon 20. Williams then took it to the five to set up a first-and-goal. On third-and-goal from the two, Forcier drilled a pass to Cameron Mason to even the game back up at 27 with 9:03 showing on the clock.
Furman added its final score when Forcier completed a 10-yard pass to Ryan Culbreath.
The Paladins got the ball back at its own eight with just 30 seconds remaining and moved the ball to the Elon 38 before a desperation heave into the end zone was picked off by Elon's Akeem Langham.
The Elon defense allowed just 65 yards on the ground.
Samford 19, The Citadel 14
CHARLESTON, S.C.- A fourth quarter touchdown by Dustin Taliaferro in the waning moments of the game proved to be the difference as Samford captured the 19-14 victory over The Citadel in front of 13,591 fans at Johnson Hagood Stadium for Homecoming.
From their own 20, Samford put together a 15-play, 80-yard drive, highlighted by 38 rushing yards by Jeremiaha Gates, to move to The Citadel three-yard line. With six seconds remaining on the clock, Taliaferro carried the ball to the left side of the endzone for the decisive 19-14 Samford victory.
After both teams went scoreless in their opening possessions, The Citadel took advantage of a 54-yard punt by Cass Couey to pin Samford at their own 31-yard line. Two plays into the drive a fumble recovery by The Citadel's Chris Billingslea gave the Cadets the ball at the 38-yard line. The Citadel sustained an eight-play drive that took 3:54 off the clock, capped off by Dupree one-yard dive into the endzone for the early 7-0 lead.
The Citadel held Samford to three-and-out on the following possession, forcing a punt by Michael O'Neal, which placed the Dogs at the Samford 46-yard line. Facing a third and one situation, Citadel running back VanDyke Jones exploded for a 15-yard gain, putting The Citadel just outside redzone territory. Three plays later, following a 16-yard gain by Jones, Dupree scored his second touchdown on a four-yard run over center to move the score to 14-0.
Samford began their fourth series of the game with 24 seconds remaining in the opening half. The visiting Bulldogs sustained a 17-play drive behind five double-digit yardage gains, including a pair of 11-yard pickups by Fabian Truss, which moved them to the four-yard line. The Cadets defense flushed Taliaferro out of the pocket on two separate occasions, allowing only a Cameron Yaw 22-yard field goal.
The Citadel moved the ball 45 yards on 10 plays in the opening possession of the second quarter. Highlighted by a five-yard gain from Dupree, which moved the ball into visitor territory, the Cadets drive culminated on an unsuccessful fourth down conversion at the Samford 19-yard line.
Taliaferro found Kelsey Pope for an 18-yard gain to open the drive, moving the visiting Bulldogs to their own 37-yard line. Samford then returned to the ground attack with a 17-yard gain by Truss that moved the ball to The Citadel 46. Six plays later, Taliaferro completed an 18-yard pass to Chris Cephus for the touchdown strike. After a successful PAT by Yaw, The Citadel led 14-10 heading into the intermission.
In similar fashion to the first half, both teams went scoreless in their opening drives of the second half. The Citadel began its second possession at their own 20-yard line, capitalizing on 29 yards from Robinson to eventually reach the Samford 25. The Citadel, facing a fourth-and-six, turned to Ryan Sellars for a 42-yard field goal attempt that was blocked by Samford's Corey White.
Samford turned the momentum of the blocked field goal into an offensive success, driving the ball 43 yards in 11 plays to The Citadel 27. Highlighted by a pair of Taliaferro passes to Gates and Riley Hawkins, for gains of 11 and nine yards respectively, Yaw converted a 44-yard field goal to trim the lead to 14-13 at the 1:08 mark of the third quarter.
Starting a drive in the waning stages of the third quarter, The Citadel moved from its own 20-yard line to the Samford, 10 due in large part to freshman Aaron Miller. Miller found Greg Adams for an 11-yard gain on the third play of the drive and followed that with a 39-yard gain that moved the Cadets to the Samford 27. Seven plays later, with the Dogs lined up for a 27-yard field goal attempt, Samford's Alvin Hines II broke through past the front line to record a block.
On the ensuing Citadel possession, the Dogs again turned to their special teams following a three and out, when Cass Couey booted a 61-yard punt to the Samford 20. Taliaferro was sacked for a loss of four yards by Rod Harland, who forced a fumble that was recovered by Billingslea at the 13-yard line.
Miller again attempted to drive The Citadel to a score, however three plays into the drive fumbled the ball which was recovered by Samford's Darion Sutton.
The Sutton fumble recovery put Samford at their own 20-yard line with 4:12 remaining in the contest. That drive led to the decisive Taliaferro touchdown.
The Citadel finished with 259 yards of total offense, accruing 238 on the ground. Among the individual statistical leaders for the Dogs included Robinson, who finished with 84 yards on a season-high 22 carries. Teammate VanDyke Jones finished with 48 yards on nine attempts, while Dupree, who tallied each of The Citadel touchdowns, added 44 yards. Defensively, Joseph Boateng (12 tackles) and Carl Robinson (10 tackles) led the way for the Bulldogs.
Meanwhile, Samford countered with 353 yards of total offense, amassing 240 yards through the air. The tandem of Taliaferro (34-of-45, 240 yards) and Pope (17 rec., 113 yards) proved to be the difference. On defense, Justin Shade finished with 11 tackles and forced one fumble.
The Citadel now stands at 4-6 on the season, including a mark of 2-6 against Southern Conference competition. Samford moves to 6-4, 4-4
Appalachian State 46, Western Carolina 14
BOONE, N.C. - Led by record-breaking performances from wide receiver Brian Quick and place kicker Drew Stewart, No. 10/8 Appalachian State University defeated visiting Western Carolina, 46-14, on Saturday afternoon at Kidd Brewer Stadium.
Quick became Appalachian's all-time leading receiver with a seven-catch, 111-yard performance and Stewart set school records by kicking six field goals and scoring 22 kicking points in the Mountaineers' seventh-straight victory over longtime rival WCU. ASU retained the Old Mountain Jug for the 25th time in the last 27 years.
Appalachian (7-3, 5-2 SoCon) dominated Saturday's game from the outset but, like in last week's 20-10 loss at Furman, struggled to capitalize in the red zone early on. The Mountaineers drove inside the WCU 27 yard line on four of their first five possessions but could not push the ball across the goal line, settling for four Stewart field goals to take a 12-0 lead with just over four minutes to play in the first half.
Despite not putting the ball in the end zone on any of its first five series, one of ASU's greatest offensive highlights in recent memory came on the second play of the second quarter when Quick hauled in a short pass from DeAndre Presley, who was spelling starting quarterback Jamal Jackson on the series, and darted upfield for 33 yards to break Appalachian's 31-year-old career record of 3,124 receiving yards, set by current ASU senior associate athletics director Rick Beasley from 1978-80.
Leading just 12-0 despite a 202-30 advantage in total yardage, the Mountaineers finally found paydirt with 55 seconds to go before halftime when Jackson capped a six-play, 59-yard drive with a two-yard run that would seemingly send ASU into the locker room with a 19-0 lead.
However, on the first play of Western's ensuing possession, Dominique McDuffie intercepted WCU's Brandon Pechloff and returned it 27 yards to the WCU 33 yard line. McDuffie's first interception of the season came on Pechloff's first pass after replacing injured starter Zach Brindise and proved to be a turning point in the game when Jackson rumbled into the end zone from 13 yards out three plays later. Jackson's second touchdown in 43 seconds turned a tenuous 12-0 lead into a commanding 26-0 halftime advantage.
Appalachian struck again shortly after the break when Jackson found Quick for a 28-yard touchdown - the Apps' third in a 3:59 span - that stretched the Mountaineers' lead to 33-0 barely three minutes into the second half.
Stewart added two more field goals to up the ASU advantage to 39-0 and end the day for the majority of the Mountaineers' starters. With a cast of reserves in the game, Western ended Appalachian's shutout bid with 9:44 to go in the ballgame. The teams swapped touchdowns in the final four minutes to close out the scoring.
Quick finished with seven catches for 111 yards, upping his ASU-record career total to 3,229 yards, which is also good for fourth in Southern Conference history. Bouncing back from a four-turnover game in last Saturday's loss at Furman, Jackson completed 22-of-34 passes without an interception for 261 yards and a touchdown while also running 10 times for 48 yards and two scores. The sophomore extended his own school records by passing for at least 200 yards and amassing at least 250 yards of offense in each of the first five starts of his career.
Brandon Grier and Jeremy Kimbrough led the Mountaineers' staunch defensive effort with nine and five tackles, respectively. Two-and-a-half of Kimbrough's five stops were behind the line of scrimmage. In addition to McDuffie's game-changing interception late in the first half, Rodger Walker picked off his fourth pass of the season to pull into a tie for the SoCon lead.
Pechloff threw for 188 yards and two touchdowns coming off the bench for Western Carolina (1-9, 0-8 SoCon).