Week 5 SoCon FCS Football Game Breakdowns

George Hammond

Week 5 Southern Conference Game Breakdowns

Don’t tell Western Carolina first-year coach Mark Speir about moral victories, but he has to feel good about the effort his Catamounts gave before a crowd of 10,112, the largest home crowd in nearly two years Saturday in a 25-21 loss to Samford.  “It was a tough loss. I am proud of the effort our guys put forth, but we didn't come here to just be competitive. We came to win," Speir said of the Catamounts’ 16th consecutive Southern Conference loss. "I feel we let one slip away. Give credit to Samford as they made the plays at the end. When you go into the fourth quarter with an 11-point lead, you've got to win those."

Western Carolina wasn’t the only team looking to spring an upset last week. Visiting Elon nearly upset Georgia Southern 26-23 in Statesboro. “This was a great game by two great football teams," said Elon head coach Jason Swepson who returned to the sideline after missing last Saturday's game due to a stay in the hospital.  "We had a shot there at the end.  I'm proud of this team. They fought hard and I'm looking forward to next week.  The defense did a great job.  I think we are going to learn from this.  I like the character of this team.  I think we're going to bounce back.  There's a lot of football to be played."

Ironically, the two survivors of those near-upsets, Georgia Southern and Samford, meet Saturday in Statesboro in a crucial league meeting. “We're going up against Georgia Southern this week, and we haven't gone against an option team yet this fall,” Samford coach Pat Sullivan said. “So, today (Sunday) was a learning day and we started to work on assignments. We won't get enough reps between now and Saturday, so today was a little different Sunday practice than what we normally have.”


#24 SAMFORD at #10 GEORGIA SOUTHERN (6 p.m. Saturday at Paulson Stadium, Statesboro, Ga.)

Samford is 4-0 for the first time since 1995, and it has won four straight games for the first time since 1999. But the schedule gets extremely tough now as the Bulldogs play Georgia Southern, The Citadel, Appalachian State, Chattanooga and Wofford in its next five games. In the Bulldogs’ come-from-behind victory against Western Carolina, Fabian Truss ran for 180 yards and two touchdowns to keep Samford (2-0, 4-0) unbeaten. Meanwhile, freshman kicker Alex Hanks nailed a 32-yard field goal, and Darius Eubanks recovered an Elon fumble deep in Georgia Southern territory to preserve a 26-23 triumph Saturday for the Eagles. The victory extended the Eagles’ home win streak to 12 games.

Projected score: Georgia Southern 17, Samford 13


WESTERN CAROLINA at FURMAN (1:30 p.m. Saturday at Paladin Stadium Greenville, S.C.)

Rolling up 456 yards offense, Furman toppled Presbyterian 31-21 Saturday in Clinton, S.C. It was the first game in the series in Clinton since 1975. Hank McCloud rushed for a career-high 78 yards and three touchdowns to power the Paladins. McCloud, a sophomore from Tampa, Fla., scored on runs of 45, 13 and 7 yards in the first half to help Furman (1-3) build a 24-0 halftime lead. In addition, Furman quarterback Reese Hannon completed 17-of-26 passes for 217 yards in his second collegiate start. Although it was disappointed with the loss, Western Carolina (0-2, 1-3) had to take solace in the fact that it had conference leader Samford (2-0, 4-0) on the ropes before falling 25-21. Samford scored 15 fourth-quarter points to overcome an 11-point deficit. Rock Williams led the WCU defense with 16 tackles.

Projected score: Furman 27, Western Carolina 20


# 9 WOFFORD at ELON (1:30 p.m. Saturday at Rhodes Stadium, Elon, N.C.)

In a game that featured three ties and five lead changes, Elon’s (0-1, 2-2) attempt at an upset of Georgia Southern fell just short as the Eagles pulled out a 26-23 decision thanks to a late, fourth-quarter field goal. Quarterback Thomas Wilson completed 22 of his 36 pass attempts for 302 yards, the fifth 300-yard game of his career, and a pair of touchdowns.  Wide receiver Aaron Mellette caught nine balls for 68 yards and two scores for the Phoenix.  Kierre Brown had the first 100-yard game of his career, with five receptions for 110 yards. Meanwhile, Wofford (1-0, 3-0) had an early bye week and was idle Saturday. Still, Elon knows what kind of challenge it faces as the Terriers have outscored their first three opponents by a combined 165-27 margin. None of those teams were as good as Elon.

Projected score: Wofford 27, Elon 16


COASTAL CAROLINA at #11 APPALACHIAN STATE (3:30 p.m. Saturday at Kidd Brewer Stadium, Boone, N.C.)

Junior quarterback Jamal Jackson became the 13th player in Appalachian State history with 3,000 career passing yards. Jackson completed 19-of-30 passes for 268 yards to move into 12th in school history with 3,137 career yards in the Mountaineers’ 34-17 victory at Chattanooga. With the victory, Appalachian State (1-1, 2-2) avoided dropping to 0-2 in Southern Conference play for the first time since 1972, its first season in the league. But it wasn’t easy as App State had to rebound from an early 10-0 hole to score the game’s next 34 points, 24 of which came in the decisive fourth quarter. Appalachian’s regular starting tackles, Kendall Lamm and Regan Dufort missed Saturday’s game due to a head injury and a violation of NCAA rules, respectively. Coastal Carolina (2-2) of the Big South Conference has played a tough schedule and poses a threat to the Mountaineers. Coastal beat Furman 47-45 in triple overtime, lost to Eastern Kentucky 35-17 and bowed to Toledo 38-28 on Saturday. Coastal led 21-17 midway in the third quarter of that game.

Projected score: Appalachian State 31, Coastal Carolina 16


CHATTANOOGA at #18 THE CITADEL (6 p.m. Saturday at Johnson Hagood Stadium, Charleston, S.C.)

The Citadel ran into a fired-up foe Saturday when it fell to North Carolina State 52-14 in Raleigh, N.C, in the first meeting between the two teams since 1983. The Wolfpack (3-1) denied the Bulldogs their fourth straight win to open the season and first victory over an FBS team since their Southern Conference championship campaign of 1992. The game was all N.C. State after a 65-yard run by Darien Robinson brought The Citadel into a 7-7 tie with 5:45 remaining in the first quarter. The touchdown was Robinson's third of the season and was just two yards shy of his career-long run set against Elon a year ago. Chattanooga (0-1, 1-3) jumped out to a 10-0 advantage against Appalachian State on Saturday, then saw the Mountaineers score the next 34 points.

Projected score: The Citadel 28, Chattanooga 13


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