STATESBORO, Ga. -- J.R. Revere, Adrian Peterson and their Georgia Southern teammates waited a whole year for this.
They remembered how Furman manhandled the Eagles a season ago, romping to a 45-10 victory against a team that went on to capture its second straight Division I-AA championship.
"I couldn't help but have that in the back of my mind," said Revere, the Eagles' senior quarterback. "We had to use it to our advantage."
Georgia Southern got payback Saturday with a 20-10 victory, taking over first in the Southern Conference and improving its playoff positioning.
Peterson didn't play in last year's game because of a hyperextended left elbow. This time, he rushed 24 times for 158 yards - the majority of it in the fourth quarter as Georgia Southern broke a 10-all tie.
"A year ago, I was standing on the sidelines," said Peterson, who had the 51st 100-yard game of his career. "It was like seeing your little brother get beat up and not be able to do anything about it."
Plagued by injuries, Georgia Southern (8-1, 6-1) struggled in its previous three games. Lackluster victories over Appalachian State and The Citadel were followed by a shocking 19-16 loss at East Tennessee State, knocking the Eagles out of the No. 1 position.
"That's behind us," coach Paul Johnson said. "The fact is, we had a lot of people hurt. It was good to come back. We didn't play great, but we held on to the ball, played the field position game and made plays when we had to."
Revere, bothered by a sore quadriceps, didn't play against The Citadel and managed only a couple of series against East Tennessee State. He went the whole way on Saturday, scoring two touchdowns from the option offense.
"He knows how to win games," Johnson said. "At the end, we called a pass or two and he didn't try to force it in there. If it's not there, he knows we can just punt it back to them. That's experience."
After the loss to East Tennessee State, the Eagles dropped to fourth in the media poll and fifth in the coaches' rankings.
"Everybody was down," Peterson said. "But when we came in Monday morning, coach told us it was over with. Everybody did a great job of staying focused and carrying it over to the next game."
By beating Furman, which was No. 2 in both polls, Georgia Southern moved into position to clinch a home-field spot for the first three rounds of the playoffs.
That's no small consideration. The Eagles have won 37 in a row at Paulson Stadium, one short of the I-AA record they set from 1985-90.
"Everybody knows we haven't lost in a long time here," Peterson said while signing autographs outside the locker room. "It means a little more when we're playing at home, playing in front of our fans."
The Eagles will close the season with road trips to Elon and Wofford, the latter making up a game that was postponed after the Sept. 11 attacks.
Furman (6-2, 5-1) isn't giving up on this season. Maybe the Paladins will get a chance for some payback of their own in the playoffs.
"I think our guys will bounce back positively," coach Bobby Johnson said. "Our guys have put a lot into this season, have worked hard and are smart enough to know there's a lot of football ahead of us."
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