Originally created 10/03/04

Eagles take to the air



STATESBORO, Ga. - There are only 24 hours in a day, seven days in a week. Opposing teams use most of that time preparing for Georgia Southern by thinking about stopping the triple-option run.

So what happens? The Eagles go to a fourth option. A four-letter word rarely spoken here - pass.

Quarterback Chaz Williams tied a school record with four touchdown passes and ran for two more to lead third-ranked Georgia Southern to a 48-14 victory over Elon on Saturday at Paulson Stadium.

It was the fourth consecutive victory of 34 or more points for Eagles, who raised their record to 4-1, 3-0 in the Southern Conference.

"If you play Georgia Southern, you probably don't prepare for the pass," said Georgia Southern freshman wide receiver Jayson Foster, astutely noting the Eagles average a division-leading 391 rushing yards a game.

That might be a big mistake. Wideouts Teddy Craft, P.J. Cantrell, Foster and slotback Lynon Jefferson each had touchdown catches.

Williams' aerial outburst equaled Tracy Ham's four-touchdown performance against Furman on Dec. 21, 1985, in the Division I-AA national championship game. Greg Hill also had four scoring tosses Dec. 12, 1998, in the I-AA semifinals against Western Carolina.

Williams also scored on runs of 1 and 5 yards.

Fullback Tim Gehrsitz added a touchdown for the fifth straight game, a 9-yard run.

"It's always been run, run, run here," Williams said. "A lot of people don't realize we have the play action."

Or a stable of outstanding runners.

With starting fullback Jermaine Austin suspended for a game and backup Brandon Andrews still hobbled with a sprained ankle, Georgia Southern still managed to grind out 351 yards on the ground.

Fourth-string fullback Bryce Carter, who had been moved to linebacker at the start of the season, finished with 112 yards. Gehrsitz had 88.

Coach Mike Sewak wouldn't elaborate on Austin's suspension but said the junior would be eligible for Saturday's game against Western Carolina.

A source close to the team said Austin's suspension was centered around an incident on campus.

"This is painful enough," said Sewak of Austin's suspension. "There won't be any extra (discipline) ... I just want to keep the standards the same."

As it turned out, Austin would have been just another bullet in the Eagles' offensive arsenal.

"Nothing they do surprises me," Elon coach Paul Hamilton said. "The problem is, how do you take away everything?"

Williams kick-started the Eagles. He threw for three touchdowns and ran for another in a 16-minute segment of the first half when Georgia Southern went from a 14-7 deficit to a 35-14 lead.

Reach Donald Heath at (912) 652-0353 or donald.heath@savannahnow.com.