Eagles defeat Wofford 23-20 to Advance to Semifinals
SPARTANBURG, S.C. - And then there were four. Georgia Southern (10-4) held on to defeat the Southern Conference co-champion Wofford Terriers (10-3) 23-20 at Gibbs Stadium Saturday afternoon to advance to the NCAA FCS Semifinals. The Eagles will play Delaware in Newark either Friday or Saturday, December 17 or 18th. The NCAA will notify the teams Sunday of the schedule. Villanova, the 2009 national champion, will play at Eastern Washington on the other side of the playoff bracket.
Georgia Southern last advanced to the semifinals in 2002.
Junior kicker Adrian Mora (Dalton, Ga.) scored Georgia Southern's only points of the second half to give the Eagles the margin of victory. Mora hit a 37-yard field goal with 10:43 left in the game to extend the Eagles' lead to 23-13. Wofford, who had scratched its way back into the game in the second half, recovered a fumble and returned it for a touchdown with 5:13 left to pull within three, 23-20.
Three straight scores by Georgia Southern gave the Eagles a 17-0 lead early in the second quarter with the first two touchdowns resulting from two Terrier turnovers in the first period.
Freshman wide receiver Tray Butler (Stockbridge, Ga.) caught a 25-yard touchdown pass, only the fifth passing touchdown of the season, near the goal line to give the Eagles their first score following a Terrier fumble at the Georgia Southern 20. On Wofford's first play of its ensuing drive, defensive end John Douglas (Augusta, Ga.) picked up the second Terrier fumble of the game and took it to the end zone with 3:44 left in the first quarter.
After a quick Terrier possession, Georgia Southern got the ball back with 2:13 left in the quarter. Five plays on the ground ended the first quarter and the Eagles continued on the ground with two more rushing plays to start the second quarter. Mora was brought in for the 33-yard field goal and the Eagles took a 17-0 lead.
Wofford's next series, directed by new quarterback Brian Kass, ended with a 34-yard punt, putting the Eagles at the Terrier 49 to start their drive. On the first play from scrimmage, junior quarterback Jaybo Shaw (Flowery Branch, Ga.) found Tyler Sumner (Pooler, Ga.) to complete a 19-yard pass. Brian Wilcher's (Dublin, Ga.) 19-yard run was sandwiched between two Robert Brown carries. The Eagles lost a yard, then were called for a holding penalty, bringing the ball out to the Wofford 11. The field goal unit took the field after a final pass attempt fell incomplete. Mora missed the 28-yarder wide right for only his second miss of the season.
Breitenstein paced the Terriers with 45 yards and Marshall had a 20-yard run to the Eagle four-yard in the 77-yard scoring drive. Breitenstein got as far as the GSU one-yard line on second and goal and Laron Scott (Warner Robins, Ga.) turned back Marshall on third-and-goal as the Eagle defense forced Wofford to settle for a field goal. Christian Reed hit a 21-yard field goal to give the Terriers their first points of the game with 1:05 left in the half.
The Eagles went 56 yards in the final 65 seconds of first half, keyed by Shaw's 21-yard rush to the Wofford four. After an incomplete pass, Mora came out to hit a a 21-yard field goal for a 20-3 Eagle lead at the half.
Georgia Southern went three and out at the start of the third quarter. With Allen back at quarterback, the Wofford drive started slowly from its own 20-yard line as the Terriers' long play was a courtesy an Eagle offsides penalty for five yards. Back-to-back rushes by Breitenstein brought the Terriers to their 35. Allen's five-yard gain resulted in another Wofford first down at the 40. The Eagle defense put the Terriers at third and four when Allen connected with Brenton Bersin for six yards for another set of downs and moved the Terriers into Eagle territory.
Breitenstein, who had rushed for eight yards just two plays before, pushed forward for 37 inches for a critical fourth-down conversion at the Eagle 38. On first-and-10, Allen lofted a wide-open, perfect pass to Bersin for a 37-yard touchdown reception. Reed converted the PAT and Wofford had cut the lead in half, GSU 20, Wofford 10. It was just the second offensive touchdown the Eagles had given up during the playoffs.
A quick three-and-out by the Eagles and second punt of the quarter by Edwards put the Terriers at their own 22 with 5:34 left in the third.
Breitenstein lost a yard on third down and Terrier coach Mike Ayers made a gutsy call at fourth-and two at the Wofford 30. A well-executed pass from Allen to Marshall to the right sideline not only picked up the needed two yards, but an additional 20. A nine-yard pass to Bersin set up a third-and-one for Breitenstein to convert with a three-yard gain. Coverage by Derek Heyden (Atlanta, Ga.) on a deep pass intended for Devin Reed was the only thing that prevented Reed from the end zone.
After two rushes by Breitenstein and Rucker, Allen had a four-yard run before fumbling forward. Rucker recovered for a gain of five yards to get the Terriers inside the Eagle 20. Breitenstein ran for six yards for a Terrier first down and then got another yard on his next carry to the Eagle 11. An incomplete pass and gain of one by Rucker put the Terriers in position for the field goal. Reed made the 27-yard attempt at the 13:07 mark of the fourth quarter to put the Terriers within one touchdown of the Eagles, 20-13.
First-team All-Southern Conference return specialist Laron Scott (Warner Robins, Ga.) provided the Eagles with excellent field position on their next drive, taking the Terriers kickoff 58 yards from the GSU 11 to the Wofford 31. After Wilcox's 11-yard run, the Eagles couldn't move the ball past the Wofford 20 and went to Mora for a 37-yard field goal. Mora's third field goal of the game gave the Eagles their only points of the second half, Georgia Southern 23, Wofford 13, with a long 10:43 left in the game.
The Terriers started on their own 40 after the Eagle kickoff went out of bounds. Charging ahead for five-yard gains, Allen and Rucker brought the Terriers to midfield. On first-and-10, Allen went to the air and Bersin made the 38-yard catch right before he and the ball met the ground at the GSU 12. The Eagle defense allowed Allen a seven-yard gain, spotting the ball at the three-yard line on fourth-and-one. Allen ran into a charging Josh Rowe (Opelika, Ala.) for no gain and the Eagles took over on downs.
With the ball and deep in their own half of the field, Shaw, Brown and Wilcox combined their carries for an Eagle first down to help move to the GSU 15. A fumble on the next play was recovered by Wofford's Alex Goltry at the 19-yard line and he scrambled into the endzone, resuscitating the Terriers with a touchdown with 5:13 left in the game to put Eagles up only by three, 23-20.
The Eagles controlled the clock for the final 5:05, moving the ball 42 yards from their own 16 to the Wofford 42, helped in part by a face mask penalty granting the Eagles an automatic first down. Edwards punted the ball 32 yards to the Wofford 10 where Bersin made a fair catch. The Terriers final play ran out the final eight seconds for the Eagle victory. Breitenstein was the top rusher for the game with 102 yards. Bersin had one touchdown to go with his 99 yards receiving.
Darius Eubanks (Harlem, Ga.) had a game- and career-high 11 tackles, bettering his previous total, nine, registered at Wofford in 2009. Roderick Tinsley had nine tackles and 3.5 tackles for a total of 12 yards lost, both career bests for the junior defensive tackle from Soperton, Ga. Rowe had nine tackles with Brent Russell (Comer, Ga.) registering seven, each adding a forced fumble to their totals. Sophomore John Stevenson (Stone Mountain, Ga.), who earned his first career start, had a career-best six tackles.
Shaw averaged 4.0 yards per carry and led the Eagles with 60 yards. Brown had 50 yards on the day. Tray Butler tied his career best with two receptions for a career-best 39 yards.
NOTES: CSS will show a replay of the game Sunday, December 12 with an 11 a.m. start time... the away team in the Georgia Southern-Wofford series has now won the game for the sixth-straight time... with the quarterfinal win, the Eagles have 41 FCS playoff wins, 11 more than the nearest competitor, Montana, with 30... Saturday's playoff game against Wofford was the first time this season Georgia Southern won the game with less than 30 minutes of possession time...true freshman fullback Robert Brown has 955 yards in 2010, just 45 shy of 1,000... if Brown should surpass that milestone against Delaware, he would become the first true freshman to accomplish that feat since Joe Ross in 1987 (1,018 yards)... Adrian Mora's perfect streak in PATs continues at 44-44 for the season and he adds to his career consecutive record with 94-94 over three years... Georgia Southern did not allow Wofford to score in the first quarter for its 26th scoreless quarter of the year... with only a Terrier field goal in the first half, the Eagles had not allowed an offensive touchdown in three halves (William & Mary with three field goals and an interception returned for TD plus the first half vs. Wofford)... attendance was for the quarterfinal game was 11,823, third largest in Gibbs Stadium history.
- Category: Football
- Published on Saturday, 11 December 2010 18:40