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Eagles clinging to a playoff shot
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CULLOWHEE, N.C. — The Eagles’ hopes of still making the playoffs remain intact with the overtime win against Western.

Following a 37-36 loss to Appalachian State the week before the Eagles (4-4, 2-3) moved to 4-4 overall. But with three of their four losses coming to top ranked FCS teams—Wofford, Furman and Appalachian State—and the other coming to BCS powerhouse Georgia, the Eagles still clung to hopes of winning the rest of the games on their schedule and getting an at-large bid to the FCS playoffs.

Even though Western is still winless in the conference, coach Chris Hatcher said he thinks that overcoming such a large deficit for a win will reflect well on Georgia Southern when it comes time to decide who gets the at-large bids to the playoffs.

“I think that this game helps us more than anything, by the way the game was won,” Hatcher said of the comeback. “That’s what the doctor ordered.”

Andrews takes career reception record
Senior wide receiver Raja Andrews broke the Georgia Southern record for career receptions with his 31-yard catch from Antonio Henton in the third quarter. By the game’s end, Andrews had 99 catches in his Georgia Southern career. Monty Sharpe previously held the record with 93 catches from 1983-1986.

“It’s an honor,” Andrews said. “It’s nothing I did personally. It’s a team effort. It’s a culmination for the entire time I’ve been here. Each team that I’ve played with, each offense that I played in, they all had some type of stance in this record and I celebrate it with not only this team but with the Georgia Southern program as a whole. I celebrate this win with the entire Eagle Nation.”

“He’s been battling a really bad ankle all season long,” Hatcher said of Andrews. “Tonight he came out and made play after play. …I told him at the beginning of the year that if he didn’t break the record that it was going to be a real long season for us.”

Andrews also had his first touchdown reception of the year in the fourth quarter, leaving Southern down 31-10.

Andrews’ two touchdown receptions against Western also ties his career high. He had two against Furman last season.

It was Andrews’ third 100-yard game this year (and also in his career), a school record for 100-yard games in a season. It ties the number of career 100-yard games in a career school history with Sharpe.

“Big Boy” is two-for-two
The reverse option pass play, called “The Big Boy,” got Southern into the end zone, leaving the Eagles behind a touchdown. The play was drawn up by Hatcher’s son, Ty. It’s a play that Georgia Southern was successful with last season against The Citadel.

“We ran it last year for the first time,” Andrews said. “He looked at me with a smile on his face and he called the play. He called it, we ran it, and it worked like a charm.”

Missing pieces of the GSU puzzle
In addition to freshman Samair Baker missing his second-straight game, Georgia Southern’s top tackler, Quentin Taylor, did not play against Western Carolina.

Hatcher said only that he “didn’t feel like playing him,” regarding Taylor’s absence.

Dion Dubose started in Taylor’s place at middle linebacker. He recorded eight tackles for the Eagles. The true freshman entered the game with 10 career tackles.

Et cetera
Junior Garryon Taylor had his first career reception, a 13-yarder in the first quarter... Western’s McLeod had his first career interception... WCU QB Jaynes had his longest career reception with his touchdown pass to Anderius Thomas in the second quarter… Saturday’s attendance was 8,327.

Natalie Sayewich can be reached at (912) 489-9413.