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Playoffs start now for GSU Eagles
09.05 GSU file 5
Antonio Henton (7), here handing off to Jarrell Crawford against Georgia, and the Georgia Southern Eagles are in a must-win situation. - photo by File photo by Lisa Bailey

GSU Hatcher

Georgia Southern coach Chris Hatcher talks about the effect of the loss to Elon.

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Carson Hill heard the shouts and exultations from the Elon players one floor below. It was a sound he didn’t like — at all.

“It bothers me,” the Georgia Southern junior cornerback said, the 22-20 loss at the hands of the Phoenix not even 15 minutes old. “It’s like someone coming into your backyard and beating you in a basketball game.”

The calendar says differently, but the playoffs start now for the Georgia Southern Eagles.

After last week’s 22-20 loss to Elon, the Eagles are 2-2 overall and 0-1 in the Southern Conference — with three-time defending FCS national champion Appalachian State, archnemesis Furman and Wofford ahead.

“It’s always like that,” Eagles coach Chris Hatcher said. “To me, you’ve got to win them all.”

Elon riddled the Southern defense for 509 yards last week — getting a 100-yard rusher and a 300-yard passer in the game, the first time the Eagles had allowed that since the 1997 loss to William and Mary.

“I feel bad for our team, because that was a game I felt like we should have won,” Hatcher said of the loss to the Phoenix. “I feel bad for our boys because they really played hard and they believed all night they were going to make it happen.”

Wofford leads the SoCon in total offense (429 yards per game) and rushing offense (328.7 yards per game). They also have the league’s No. 2 rush defense, and that unit is led by Effingham County alum Seth Goldwire. Goldwire, a senior linebacker, tops the SoCon with 30 tackles. He was eighth in the league last year and was a first-team all-SoCon selection.

The Terriers (2-1) are dead last in the SoCon in passing offense; Southern holds the same spot in passing defense. The Eagles registered no sacks and one quarterback hurry against Elon’s Scott Riddle last week. They have just two sacks and three hurries over the last two games.

GSU quarterback Antonio Henton played every down last week on offense, with former fellow starter Lee Chapple relegated to the sidelines. Henton is 56-of-101 with five touchdowns and four interceptions, making him ninth in the league in passing efficiency.

Senior Raja Andrews is second in receptions and receiving yards per game, behind Elon’s Terrell Hudgins.

As demoralizing as last week’s loss could be, the 24th-ranked Eagles know they have to focus on the task at hand — the 14th-ranked Terriers.

“But we’ve got to keep pushing,” Hill said. “We’ve still got our goals intact.”