ATHENS — Georgia Southern unveiled its two-quarterback system on Saturday in the season opener, a 45-21 loss to No. 1 Georgia at Sanford Stadium.
Redshirt sophomore Lee Chapple and true sophomore Antonio Henton both led the Eagles on scoring drives and improved their play throughout the course of the game after rocky starts. Henton finished 10-for-18 passing for 102 yards with a touchdown and an interception. Chapple was 9-of-18 for 86 yards, scoring on a 1-yard touchdown run.
“They both looked good at times — and both made some poor decisions,” said GSU coach Chris Hatcher. “We got two good ones. Both of them bring different things to the table and next week, we’ll play ‘em both again.”
Chapple got the start between the hedges. In his first 10 snaps, the Eagles (0-1) gained just six net yards, and GSU receivers dropped three passes. In the middle of his third series, Southern sent Henton in, and Chapple wouldn’t be on the field for two consecutive snaps again until midway through the third quarter.
“I didn’t feel any nerves,” Chapple said. “It was more of a thrill than anything else. (When Henton came into the game) I just had to respect coach’s decision. I didn’t have a problem with it. I wasn’t upset. Whoever the teams responds to is the guy that’s going to play.”
Chapple was told he would start on Friday afternoon in a team meeting, but it looked as though his day would be shorter than expected when Henton took over the huddle on a fourth-and-1 from the Georgia 43.
In all, Chapple was behind center for 33 snaps while Henton took 44. Henton also rushed for 7 yards on nine carries. Both highly commended each other’s play during Saturday’s loss.
Hatcher insisted that fans can expect more of the same when the Eagles open the season at home against Austin Peay next Saturday.
“You guys like to make such a big deal about the darn quarterback situation,” said the second-year coach, smiling. “They both played good, they both had a scoring drives and we’re going to continue to play both. Henton had the hot hand early, so we kept playing him. Then Chapple got the hot hand, so we put him in. We got two good ones.”