Week 8 SoCon FCS Football Game Breakdowns

George Hammond

Week 8 Southern Conference Game Breakdowns

With its important 17-9 victory over visiting No. 9 Wofford on Saturday, No. 6 Georgia Southern (5-1, 4-1) established itself as the likely team to beat for the Southern Conference title, but there’s still a long way to go — a long way. There are no unbeatens in the league, and four teams have one loss. But the Eagles are atop the standings because they’ve played more league contests than the other top schools. Wofford (5-1, 3-1) and Appalachian State (5-2, 3-1) are next followed by Chattanooga (3-3, 2-1).  And the Mocs could have a big say in the race as they still have games remaining against Georgia Southern and Wofford. They certainly were impressive Saturday when they rolled over Furman 31-10 in Greenville, S.C.

Freshman quarterback Jacob Huseman passed for 171 yards and two touchdowns to lead Chattanooga. He completed 18-of-23 passes and added 59 yards rushing.  “We were beaten in every phase of the game today — offense, defense and in the kicking game. There’s no other way to describe it,” Furman head coach Bruce Fowler told The Orangeburg (S.C.) Times and Democrat.  Chattanooga held the Paladins to eight first downs, including just three in the second half, and 223 total yards in the contest. Furman rushed for only 39 yards, the program’s lowest tally since running for just 34 yards in a 24-7 loss to Virginia Tech in 2008.

Chattanooga’s Davis Tull and his defensive teammates held their second straight opponent to 10 points. That’s the first time since 1985 Chattanooga has held road opponents to 10 points or less in back-to-back games. Tull had two sacks with the second forcing a turnover with the Paladins driving in the fourth quarter. The lopsided score raised eyebrows because Furman had been competitive against Samford and Wofford before losing 24-21 and 20-17, respectively.

The other noteworthy contest from the weekend was in Birmingham, Ala., where No. 11 Appalachian State nipped Samford 28-25 as Mountaineers quarterback Jamal Jackson hit Sean Price for a 22-yard touchdown with just 22 seconds remaining. Samford Head Coach Pat Sullivan said, while he was disappointed in the loss to the Mountaineers, he was proud of the way his team came back after being down 21-10 at the start of the fourth quarter. “I challenged them at halftime to come back and play the way we could play,” Sullivan said. “I thought we did that in the second half. App is an outstanding team with a lot of tradition, and they know how to win and they have a great quarterback. They made a couple of plays down the stretch that got us at the end, and it was a shame that either team had to lose the ballgame because I think both sides laid it all out on the line.”

Breaking down this week’s contests:


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

The loser likely will drop out of the conference race, although they still should be in the hunt for a playoff spot. As mentioned, Jackson engineered a seven-play, 80-yard drive to lead the Mountaineers over Samford as App State trailed 25-21 with 1:33 remaining. The Mountaineers recorded 179 of their 413 yards in the final quarter Saturday. A big weapon for the Mountaineers was punter Sam Martin, who leads the conference in punting average with 45.2 yards per punt. Against Samford, he averaged 48.9 yards per punt, including a 60-yarder in the first quarter. He put two punts inside the 20-yard line, and he also put four of his five kickoffs into the end zone. While App State’s offense was spotty, its defense played well, holding Samford to just 337 total yards — the Bulldogs’ lowest output of the season. Meanwhile, Wofford’s Eric Breitenstein had 102 yards on 13 carries in the Terriers’ losing effort to Georgia Southern at Statesboro. But when the Terriers had chances to score deep in Eagles’ territory, they were held to field goals. In last year’s contest with App State, Wofford was able to move the ball on the ground en route to a 28-14 triumph.

Projected score: Appalachian State 20, Wofford 17


#6 GEORGIA SOUTHERN at FURMAN (1:30 p.m. Saturday at Paladin Stadium, Greenville, S.C.)

In their victory Saturday, the Eagles did not attempt a pass in the contest, an NCAA FCS record, and finished with zero passing yards for the eighth time in school history, all Georgia Southern victories. But the Eagles had 265 rushing yards that was enough for the hard-fought win over Wofford. Meanwhile, Furman (2-5, 1-3) will try to rebound after suffering its one-sided loss to Chattanooga. Last year, Georgia Southern prevailed 50-20 as they recorded more than 500 yards offense and 365 rushing yards. The contest was a little closer than the score, however, as the Eagles led just 16-13 at halftime.

Projected score: Georgia Southern 27, Furman 10


SAMFORD at CHATTANOOGA (6 p.m. Saturday at Finley Stadium, Chattanooga, Tenn.)

This is another key contest as far as league play goes and both teams still have playoff hopes, too. Samford coach Pat Sullivan knows his Bulldogs must put the disappointing loss to Appalachian State behind them and focus on an improving Chattanooga squad. “Chattanooga has an outstanding team,” Sullivan said. “Coach (Russ) Huesman does a great job up there. They have good players, and they had a big win yesterday against Furman. It looks like they are starting to peak right now.” Samford will be playing for the eighth-straight week as its bye week is October 27. Chattanooga won last year’s contest 24-9.

Projected score: Chattanooga 26, Samford 21


WESTERN CAROLINA at ELON (3 p.m. Saturday at Rhodes Stadium, Elon, N.C.)

Although the Catamounts fell to The Citadel 45-31, linebacker Rock Williams had an amazing game. He posted a career-high 24 tackles in the losing effort. It was the first time Western Carolina (1-6, 0-5) had faced a triple-option team this season and it showed as The Citadel chalked up 378 yards on the ground. Meanwhile, Elon (2-4, 0-3) is coming off a bye week. Its three conference losses are to Georgia Southern, Appalachian State and Wofford. The Phoenix are led by wide receiver Aaron Mellette, who has 670 receiving yards and 10 touchdowns.

Projected score: Elon 31, Western Carolina 17


See All FCS Games of the Week Breakdowns