SPARTANBURG, S.C. - They wanted redemption. Instead, the Georgia Southern Eagles got another bite from a group of growling Terriers.
The sixth-ranked Eagles lost for the second consecutive season to Wofford, 20-14, and slumped into the exact position they found themselves in a year ago.
"We just can't get it right," Eagles fullback Jermaine Austin said. "We're supposed to be on top, not them."
Instead, Wofford is on top again after an upset in both teams' Southern Conference opener.
Or was it an upset? The Terriers downed the Eagles 14-7 in Statesboro last season.
"They had all those statistics on revenge, but we knew it wasn't going to happen," Wofford defensive back Craig Thomas said
The Eagles had avenged losses to its last seven opponents since 1998. They had not lost consecutive regular-season games since 1996.
But the resilient 25th-ranked Terriers (2-1) scored twice in the final 8:19 to earn one of their biggest victories since joining the Southern Conference in 1997.
Running back Kevious Johnson accounted for all three touchdowns, scoring from 2 and 5 yards and catching a game-winning 24-yard touchdown pass from Trey Rodgers with 1:47 left.
"Football is a tough game," Eagles coach Mike Sewak said. "If you're not blocking and tackling, you're in trouble."
Momentum swung back and forth in a first half that saw the Eagles take a 14-7 advantage.
Georgia Southern's defense aggressively kicked the Terriers around on the opening possession as former Eagles star Adrian Peterson cheered from the sidelines. Safety James Young leveled halfback Gabriel Jackson running a sweep on the first snap. Two plays later, linebacker James Burchett body-slammed Jeff Zolman on a quarterback keeper as the Eagles forced a punt after three downs.
Wofford's defense answered when tackle Ben Whitney penetrated the line of scrimmage to stop Chaz Williams on a fourth-and-one from the Terrier 49.
That stand led to the Terriers' first score. Faced with a fourth-and-3 on the Eagles' 29, Zolman split the defense on an option keeper for a 26-yard gain.
Johnson pushed forward for a 2-yard touchdown run two plays later and the Terriers had a 7-0 lead.
The momentum stayed with Wofford when Sean Holland missed a 40-yard field-goal attempt to the right on the Eagles' next possession.
Georgia Southern took over on a defensive stand and a little help from the officials. Linebacker Derrick Butler brought down Aaron Johnson for a loss as Wofford again tried to pick up a first down on fourth-down .
Georgia Southern couldn't generate any offense, but a roughing-the-kicker call gave the Eagles a first down at the Wofford 41.
The call gave the Eagles a surge. Two plays later, Williams and Kevin Davis hooked up on a perfect option pitch for a 36-yard scoring run to tie the game at 7-7.
The Eagles went ahead 14-7, culminating a 10-play, 68-yard touchdown drive, when T.J. Anderson took a pitch 19 yards down the left sidelines to the end zone.
Georgia Southern threatened to make it a two-score lead, but an Anderson fumble, after he had picked up a first down, was recovered by Thomas at the Terriers' 25.
Wofford got into field-goal range in the final seconds of the half, but kicker Nick Robinson missed a 27-yard attempt.
The Terriers began the second half with another dose of discouragement. An illegal motion call nullified an apparent 10-yard Zolman touchdown run. Two plays later, Aaron Whitaker blocked Robinson's 32-yard attempt.
But Georgia Southern couldn't capitalize. Late in the third quarter, the Eagles drove to the Wofford 23. Holland's 40-yard field-goal try split the uprights, but a defensive holding call left Sewak with a decision.
He elected to take points off the board and keep possession at the 18, but on the next play, Williams' errant option pitch was recovered by sophomore nose tackle Katon Bethay.
The Eagles continued to self-destruct in the fourth quarter. Rodgers was stopped on a third-down play at the Eagle 41, but a defensive holding call kept the Wofford drive alive.
Corey Dunn ripped off a 26-yard gain on the next play and Johnson followed with a 5-yard touchdown run to tie the game at 14.
© 2017. All Rights Reserved. | Contact Us