SoCon Football Moments of the Decade

Furman football celebrates a strong decade of football winning championships in 2013 and 2018 (Photo Courtesy of Furman Sports Information)

By SoCon John Hooper:

Since SoCon football has been temporarily put off until this spring, I thought it would be a good time to look back on the decade that has been on the Southern Conference gridiron.

A lot has transpired over the past decade in the league, including welcoming new members into the league, as well as bidding farewell to some other very notable programs.

Below are some of the moments, players and memories that defined the decade in Southern Conference football.

Top 10 Moments of the Decade

10. Furman claims record-setting 13th Southern Conference title in 2013— As the 2013 season headed into November, Furman sat at 3-5 overall, but still 3-2 in Southern Conference play and held out a winning lottery ticket hopes of winning a Southern Conference title and advancing into the Football Championship Subdivision playoffs. But it was a hope, and for those who had followed Paladin football for the previous grueling six years, the chances may not have been great, but there was a noticeable change in the way the Paladins were playing heading into November as opposed to how Furman had played on that hot August evening in Boiling Springs, N.C., in a 28-21 loss to Gardner-Webb.  What would transpire from mid-October until the second week of December of the 2013 football season was one of the more miraculous turnarounds in Southern Conference and Furman football history. The Paladins would go on to finish the regular-season with four-straight wins, including winning their final five against FCS foes, while also getting the right mix of circumstances to not only win the school’s 13th Southern Conference title, but also qualify for the program’s 16th FCS postseason appearance and have an opportunity to compete for a national championship for the first time since 2006. It all started on Nov. 2 in Statesboro, GA, which seems like a natural place to start for those who have followed the rich history of Paladin football. Georgia Southern–a program on the move to the Sun Belt Conference and at the time, a team reeling a bit coming off a 38-14 loss at Appalachian State and hit with a rash of injuries unlike any other in the four years that Jeff Monken had been there, according to the Eagles’ head coach Jeff Monken. But it wouldn’t be in Bruce Fowler’s personality or program pride to take pity on the Eagles, as the Purple and White went for the jugular on the game’s first play and never looked back en route to a 16-14 win to snap a three-game losing streak to the Eagles. Monken would be left with a myriad of excuses for a second-straight season, although this time explaining why his team lost instead of brushing off why the Eagles went for a two-point conversion with only seconds remaining and the Eagles already ahead 36-17 with under a minute to play in 2012. From that point forward, Furman took its play to a different level, and somewhere between Oct. 19 and Nov. 2, this team began to believe in itself. But the win to open November, coupled with a 28-26 loss by league-leading Samford at The Citadel that same Saturday set in motion would be an action-packed final month of the 2013 season in the Southern, and for Furman, would be a prelude to an unprecedented 13th Southern Conference crown–the program’s first in nine years–while also being the beginning of the dominoes falling into place for Furman to gain the tradition-rich league’s automatic bid to the FCS playoffs. The final month of the season would have Paladin fans on the edge of their seats not only following the Paladins’ results each week, whether at the game or on the radio or internet, but also saw the Paladin fans adopting a second team–the Samford Bulldogs. After a 35-17 homecoming stunner over the 20th-ranked team in the FCS at the time, the Paladins needed Samford to win its final two games of the season against both Chattanooga and Elon, which would not only ensure the program a share of its 13th league title, but also the SoCon’s automatic bid to the playoffs due to the SoCon’s tiebreaker policy, as the league would end in a three-way tie atop the SoCon for a second-straight season, as Samford, Chattanooga and Furman would all end with 6-2 league records. The story of Furman’s 2013 dream season would agonizingly come down to the final play of the 2013 season, which was the game taking place between Samford and Elon–one of two final games still going on in the 2013 Southern Conference regular season. While Furman’s 27-14 win over Wofford had ensured the Paladins a share of the 2013 Southern Conference title, the Paladins needed for Samford to beat Elon in order to force a three-way bid, which would give the Paladins the tiebreaker between Chattanooga and Samford in a battle for the automatic bid.  A loss by Samford, and the Paladins would likely not find themselves in the postseason because the first tiebreaker between two teams is head-to-head, which would of course go to Chattanooga, who claimed a 31-9 win over the Paladins in the Scenic City. At that time, the Paladins were playing without quarterback Reese Hannon, who was sidelined with an injury in the third quarter of the 24-17 win over The Citadel a few weeks earlier. The Paladins found themselves needing the Bulldogs to score a TD on the final game of the game to keep their playoff hopes alive. That’s indeed what would happen, as Samford quarterback Andy Summerlin would connect with wideout Chris Cephus on a 12-yard scoring pass with seven seconds to play, helping the Bulldogs to a dramatic 33-32 win over the Phoenix, ultimately allowing the Paladins to qualify for the postseason. Two years earlier, a 41-34 loss to Elon had led Paladin fans to much heartbreak, ultimately keeping the Paladins out of the postseason. Two years later, Paladin fans were able to exorcise those demons in Elon’s last Southern Conference game before moving to the CAA, with that exorcist proving to the Samford. Furman defeated both Georgia Southern (16-14) and Appalachian State (27-10) in both teams’ final season before joining the Sun Belt. It marked the first time since 2001 and first time in the regular-season since 1996, that Furman had beaten both Appalachian State and Georgia Southern in the same season. Furman would ultimately make the FCS playoffs, recording its first win in the postseason since 2005 after posting a 30-20 road win at South Carolina State. Furman would bow out in the next round of the FCS playoffs, with a 38-7 loss at eventual national champion North Dakota State. 

Furman 2013 season recap

9. Mark Speir starts rebuilding project at Western Carolina in 2012—When Mark Speir took over as the head coach at Western Carolina, things weren’t exactly ideal. But Speir slowly started to build the Catamounts into a consistent winner in the Southern Conference, and in 2014, things started to come together like they hadn’t in quite sometime for the Purple and Gold. After going just 3-20 overall and 1-15 in Southern Conference play in his first couple of seasons at the helm, Speir would have the Catamounts on the brink of the FCS postseason by his third season in charge in 2014. The Catamounts finished out the campaign at 7-5, and at one point, looked as if the Catamounts might just end up in the FCS postseason. Western ended up posting a 5-2 record in Southern Conference action, which was good enough for a tie for second-place in the SoCon standings. The Catamounts had a chance to claim the outright Southern Conference title in 2014, however, lost a 51-0 decision to Chattanooga in Snowy Cullowhee on the first day of November in a game that was essentially a de facto Southern Conference title game.  That loss would see the Catamounts end the ’14 season on a bit of a sour note, as the Catamounts would lose at Samford (L, 20-34) to pretty much squelch any hopes of an FCS playoff invite. The seven wins by the Catamounts were the most since 2003. The Catamounts closed the ’14 season with a 48-14 loss at Alabama. The Catamounts were a team on the up-and-up heading into the 2015 season, and once again, the Catamounts repeated the feat of winning seven games, finishing the season with a another seven-win season, as the Catamounts went 7-4 and were once again 5-2 conference record. Speir’s last seven-win season came in 2017. The Catamounts looked well on their way to the FCS playoffs until a visit from Furman on Oct. 28. On a rainy Saturday afternoon at E.J. Whitmire Stadium, with a tie for first-place in the Southern Conference up for grabs, the Paladins delivered a thorough 28-6 beating to the Catamounts,  and that would change the complexion of the season for WCU. The Catamounts went to suffer a crucial home loss to Mercer (L, 33-35) and lost the season finale at North Carolina (L, 10-65). The Catamounts will be looking to challenge to get back to that form once again in 2020, having struggled each of the past couple of seasons. 

Western Carolina football highlights 2014

8. The three-way tie of 2018—There was a three-way tie for the Southern Conference football in the standings between Furman, Wofford and East Tennessee State. All three teams ended the season with 6-2 conference records, and all three ended up having to go down to the final day for the tiebreaker, which came down to the amount of points Furman allowed in its final game of the regular-season against Mercer. If the Paladins held Mercer to 15 points or less and Samford defeated East Tennessee State in the regular-season finale, Furman would win the automatic bid to the FCS playoffs. If Mercer scored 15 or more points vs. Furman and East Tennessee State beat Samford, ETSU would win the automatic bid to the playoffs. If Mercer scored 15 or more points vs. Furman or beat Furman and ETSU lost its regular-season finale to Samford, then Wofford would win the automatic bid to the postseason. As it turned out out, Furman would end up winning a close, 35-30, game against the Bears, while ETSU dropped its only game at Greene Stadium the entire year, as the Bulldogs handed ETSU a 38-27 setback, so Wofford ended up claiming the Southern Conference’s automatic bid to the FCS playoffs. The three-way tie for the Southern Conference crown would see Wofford and ETSU qualify for the FCS playoffs, and like Chattanooga five years earlier, the third man or team, rather, left out would be Furman. 

7. Mercer Restarts Football; joins the SoCon a year later—Mercer resurrected its football program following a 72-year hiatus. The Bears would re-start their football program in 2013 as members of the Pioneer lead under former Furman head coach Bobby Lamb, who was fired from his alma mater following a 5-6 season in 2010. During his career at Furman, Lamb posted a 67-39 overall record, which included being named the SoCon Coach of the Year in 2004 after leading the Paladins to a 10-win season. A year later, he led the Paladins to the FCS semifinals. In his first season at Mercer, the Bears were non-scholarship, and the Bears posted a 10-2 record, including a 6-2 mark in league play. A year later, Mercer joined the Southern Conference as an official football-playing member. As fate would have it, Mercer’s first-ever game on the SoCon gridiron came on Sept. 6, 2014 against defending SoCon champion and 19th-ranked Furman—Lamb’s alma mater. The Bears would put up a valiant effort before eventually dropping a 25-20 game to the Paladins. Mercer played with mostly walk-ons and redshirts its first two seasons in after resurrecting its football program. Lamb was fired after what was a disappointing 4-8 season, concluding his six seasons at the helm of the Mercer football program with a 41-39 record as the head coach, which included a 24-30 mark in Southern Conference play. 

Mercer’s inaugural return to the gridiron video

6.  Jerry Moore and Mike Ayers coach their final games at their respective institutions— If there was one theme that defined the decade of the 2010s in the Southern Conference, it was the end of one era and the beginning of another. That was certainly the case of two of the league’s all-time winningest head coaches, with both Jerry Moore and Mike Ayers both coaching their final respective games at both Appalachian State and Wofford. Moore’s final game as the head coach at Appalachian State came after a heartbreaking, 38-37, overtime loss to Illinois State in the opening round of the 2012 FCS playoffs in Boone. Moore built a legendary career as the head coach  at  Appalachian State in his 24 seasons at the helm on the mountain. He finished his illustrious career with a 215-87 mark at Appalachian State, while posting an overall mark of 242-135-2 as a head coach, which includes his five seasons at the helm of Texas Tech (1981-85). Moore helped Appalachian State to 10 of its Southern Conference standard-tying 12 league titles during his tenure, while presiding over just the second Division I team to claim three-straight national titles (2005-07) since Army (1944-46).  He helped ASU become one of just six programs at any level of collegiate football to claim three-straight titles. Moore is a member of both the Southern Conference and college football halls of fame. Mike Ayers of Wofford also finished out his outstanding tenure as the head coach of Wofford following a 30-year run as leader of the Terrier football program. Under the direction of Ayers, the Terriers won five Southern Conference regular-season titles, and made eight FCS playoff appearances, including one trip to the FCS semifinals in 2003 in what remains Wofford’s best season as a Division I member. For his efforts during his career, Ayers was elected into the Southern Conference Hall-of-Fame this past spring. He finished his 32-year career by posting 218 victories, with 207 of those wins coming at Wofford. Over his final 14 seasons at the helm of the Wofford football program, he helped the Terriers post a 69-37 record in SoCon play since the start of the 2003 season. 

App State-Illinois State 2012 FCS Quarterfinals Highlights (end of an era)

5.  Programs that defined the decade; Wofford, The Citadel and Chattanooga—Everyone wondered who would step up and be the teams to dominate the Southern Conference football scene after the departures of Georgia Southern, Appalachian State and Elon. Since Appalachian State, Georgia Southern and Elon left for the Sun Belt and Colonial Athletic Association following the 2013 season, respectively, many have wondered who would step in and be the teams to dominate the SoCon gridiron scene. The answer has turned out to be a new “Big Three” so to speak. Those three teams were once known as Georgia Southern, Appalachian State and Furman during the mid-late 1990 until the early 2000s. Chattanooga, Wofford and The Citadel seem to have been the teams to have emerged as the three teams most capable of being those three teams after the exodus of the aforementioned three teams. Chattanooga claimed Southern Conference football crowns in 2013, ’14 and ’15 to bring its total to seven SoCon titles as a league member, while also making three FCS playoff appearances. All three SoCon titles came under Russ Huesman, who left the Scenic City following nine seasons at the helm. Following Chattanooga’s 35-28 loss in the second round of the 2016 FCS playoffs to Sam Houston State, Huesman would announce that he would be leaving to take the head coaching job at Richmond a couple of weeks later. It was also the end of an era for the Mocs under center, as record-setting quarterback and three-time Southern Conference Offensive Player of the Year Jacob Huesman graduated, who graduated a year before his father decided to move on to Richmond. Things came full circle for Russ Huesman in 2016, as he returned to the capital city of Virginia after he was the defensive coordinator of the 2008 Spiders, who went on to win the national title. With the Huesmans on the move, many Mocs fans and media knew the 2017 season was going to be a challenge to maintain the standard that had been set during Russ Huesman’s eight years as the head coach, and Jacob Huesman’s four years under center. It was literally a return to the Mocs’ “Golden Glory” it enjoyed during the late 1970s through the mid ‘80s on the Southern Conference gridiron. In Russ Huesman’s eight seasons, he helped the Mocs to two SoCon titles, three FCS playoff appearances, three playoff wins, and helped the Mocs posted a 59-37 record against all competition and a 42-20 record against the league. To give you an idea of how much Russ Huesman meant to his alma mater as a head coach, the previous eight seasons prior to Huesman’s arrival saw the Mocs produce a 22-69 overall mark and a 15-45 record against league competition. Then, Huesman’s son, Jacob (2012-15) came to Chattanooga, helping the Mocs to two playoff appearances, three SoCon titles, and was, as mentioned above, the three-time Southern Conference Offensive Player of the Year. During his standout career in the Scenic City, he helped the Mocs post a 32-15 record as a starting quarterback. In Russ Huesman’s final season as the head coach of the Mocs in 2016, he was able to help Chattanooga maintain status quo, as the Mocs posted a 9-4 overall record and a 6-2 mark to make a third-straight FCS playoff appearance, despite not having his record-breaking son under center. The successful run by both Huesmans and the Mocs has born fruit, as a school-record10 Mocs players from that era reported to mini-camp this spring. Since Huesman left Chattanooga for Richmond following the 2016 season, the Mocs are just 15-19 overall and a 12-12 mark in Southern Conference play. The Mocs started to turn things around last season under alum Rusty Wright, who returned to take the head coaching job after his predecessor Tom Arth left to take the job opening at Akron after just two seasons at the helm at Chattanooga. The Citadel would see its return to football prominence under the direction of Mike Houston. After taking over as head coach in 2014, Houston had the the Bulldogs in early 1990s form in his second season at the helm, as the Bulldogs tied for the Southern Conference regular-season crown and returned to the FCS playoffs for the first time since 1992.  However, The Citadel’s most memorable game of the season and decade was a 23-22 win over South Carolina, matching the feat achieved by the 1990 Bulldogs, who went to Williams Brice Stadium and walked away with a 38-35 win. After the record-breaking season, Houston was off to assume the head coaching job at James Madison, however, left the program in good hands with Brent Thompson inheriting a team that went unbeaten in SoCon play, and posted an 8-0 league record. The Bulldogs were 14-1 against Southern Conference foes over a two-year span, and finished the 2016 campaign with an impressive 10-2 record. The Bulldogs would get a bye in the opening round of the playoffs, however, eventually ended up getting knocked out of the playoffs with a loss to fellow Southern Conference rival The Citadel. Finally, the team of the decade was Wofford, finishing out the 2010s by winning three-straight Southern Conference titles, and making four appearances in the FCS playoffs. All told, the Terriers ended up winning five Southern Conference regular-season titles during the decade and made seven FCS playoff appearances. The Terriers advanced the quarterfinals of the FCS playoffs three times. All told, the Terriers posted an 81-42 overall record over the past 10 seasons, which included a 56-24 in league action.  The Terriers also had Eric Breitenstein, who finished second in the Southern Conference in all-time rushing yards, posting 5,734-career rushing yards from 2009-12.

Chattanooga Football 2015

4. East Tennessee State’s miraculous run in 2018—ETSU claimed its first Southern Conference football title since 1996 and returned to the FCS playoffs for just the second time in the history of the program, as the Bucs finished in a three-way tie with Furman and Wofford for the 2018 Southern Conference crown. Evidence of the Bucs’ run to the title came early on in the campaign, as the Bucs got a missed field goal to escape VMI with a 27-24 in their Southern Conference opener against Furman. However, the real heroics came a week later against Furman. Trailing 27-6 with 8:30 remaining in the third quarter, ETSU switched quarterbacks. The rest, as they say, is history, as the Bucs and Austin Herink wrote a script that no one could have foreseen except for maybe the Bucs themselves. Twenty-two unanswered points in the final 23 minutes of game clock helped the Bucs produce the largest come-from-behind win in school history. Later on in the season, the Bucs posted a double-overtime, 45-43, come-from-behind win over Western Carolina. It was that kind of season for the Bucs, which posted its six conference wins by a total of 12 points. The Bucs had been picked to finish seventh by the league’s coaches and media in the preseason, but proved the naysayers wrong in a major way in what was Randy Sanders’ first season at the helm. 

3. The 2016 sees a record total of SoCon teams reach the postseason—Even with the likes of Georgia Southern, Marshall and Appalachian State as members of the Southern Conference, the league was not able to achieve four teams in the playoffs, however,  in 2016, Chattanooga, The Citadel, Wofford, and Samford would all qualify for the postseason in 2016. It proved to be the strongest season as a whole for the Southern Conference since App State, Georgia Southern and Elon left the league in 2013. Only Georgia Southern’s run to the semifinals in 2010, ’11 and ‘12 remain the only times a team from the SoCon advanced to the semifinals during the decade. It’s the first decade since the inception of the Division I-AA/FCS playoffs that the SoCon failed to produce a national champion.  In 2016, the SoCon saw regular-season co-champions Chattanooga and The Citadel, along with Wofford and Samford qualify for the FCS playoffs. 

2. Eric Breitenstein’s standout career at Wofford—The 2010s produced one of the top running backs in the storied history of Southern Conference football, as Wofford’s Eric Breitenstein emerged as a dominating ground-gainer. His 5,734 yards gained in his standout career are the second-most yards in Southern Conference history. Breitenstein was a bruising running back throughout his career as a Terrier player, Breitenstein posted the highest single-game rushing total in Southern Conference history, as he rushed for 321 yards vs. Elon as a senior in 2012. He went on to finish that season with 2,035 yards rushing. His 2,035 rushing yards as a senior in 2012 were the second-most in a single-season in school history. Breitenstein was elected to the  SoCon Hall-of-Fame this past May, and just accepted a new head coaching job back in his hometown of Boone, N.C., as he slated to lead the Watauga Pioneers. Players of Breitenstein’s ilk don’t come along every day. 

Wofford Football Highlights 2011

T-1. The deaths of legendary SoCon head coaches Pat Sullivan, Jimmy Satterfield and Charlie Taafe in 2019—Three of the SoCon’s legendary football coaches passed away towards the end of the decade, with former Furman head coach Jimmy Satterfield passing away in May of 2019, former The Citadel legendary head coach Charlie Taafe  passing away in October of 2019, and former Samford head coach Pat Sullivan passing away in on Dec. 1, 2019.  Satterfield helped Furman claim the 1988 national championship, and during the 2019 season, Furman football players wore a decal on their helmets that had the initials “JS” on it to honor the career of Satterfield. He led the Paladins to a 17-12 win over Georgia Southern in Pocatello, ID, capping off a 13-2 season for the Paladins. On May 6, 2019, Satterfield passed away following an infection after heart surgery. He was 79 years old. During his career as the head coach of Furman, Satterfield posted a 66-29-3 record. He spent 21 years at Furman as both a head coach and offensive assistant, and was the head coach from 1986-93.  During his 21 seasons as both an assistant and head coach, he helped Furman, he helped the Paladins to nine Southern Conference titles, a national title and 16 winning seasons. Satterfield is a member of the South Carolina Football Hall of Fame, as well as the Furman Football Hall of Fame. Charlie Taafe in many ways was the coach that helped blaze a path for The Citadel’s current success within the Southern Conference.  Taafe passed away on Oct. 30, 2019 at the age 69. Taafe spent 10 years at the helm of The Citadel’s football program, posting a 55-47-1 record as the head coach of the Bulldogs.  The Citadel’s best season under Taafe came in 1992, as the Bulldogs finished the campaign with an 11-2 and 7-1 in the Southern Conference. The Bulldogs claimed their first Southern Conference title since 1961 and were ranked No. 1 for most of the final month of the regular  season. The Bulldogs knocked off two FBS foes, taking down both Arkansas (10-3) and Army (15-14). The Bulldogs headed into the Division I-AA/FCS playoffs with a 10-1 record and were the No. 1 overall seed. After defeating North Carolina A&T 44-0 in the opening round of the playoffs at Johnson-Hagood Stadium, the Bulldogs would see their season come to an abrupt in the quarterfinals, as the Penguins took a 42-17 win at The Citadel. Both of The Citadel’s that season came to the two teams that would contest the national championship in Huntington, WVa., with the Bulldogs’ only other loss coming at home against No. 9 Marshall, as the Thundering Herd handed the Bulldogs a 34-13 home loss. Taafe went on to win the Eddie Robinson award given to the top coach in FCS football each season. Taafe also led the Bulldogs to FCS playoff appearances in 1988 and ’90, and helped lead The Citadel one of its most memorable wins in school history, as the Bulldogs took a 38-35 win over South Carolina in 1990. Finally, Pat Sullivan, who won the 1971 Heisman Trophy as a quarterback at Auburn and was a highly-successful football coach at Samford from 2007-14, passed away on Dec. 1, 2019. Sullivan succumbed to a long bought with throat cancer and was 69. He battled the disease valiantly for 16 years after originally being diagnosed in 2003.  During his time as the head coach of Samford head coach,  Sullivan ended his career as Samford’s all-time winningest head coach, leading the Bulldogs to four-straight winning seasons for the first time since 1999 and led the Bulldogs to their first Southern Conference title in 2013. Sullivan is a member of the Samford football Hall-of-Fame, and finished his career with a 47-43 record. He helped usher Samford’s transition from the Ohio Valley Conference to the Southern Conference in 2008. All three head coaches were legends that will forever be remembered in the annals of Southern Conference football history. 

1. The record-breaking career of Devlin Hodges—Devlin Hodges helped raise Samford football to a different level during his career at Samford, and, at least statistically, solidified himself as the best quarterback in FCS history, setting a new career mark for passing yards (14,484 yds), surpassing former Alcorn State quarterback Steve McNair. Hodges claimed the highest award in the FCS in his senior season of 2018, as he was honored with the Walter Payton Award in 2018. Hodges started seven games for the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2019-20, completing 100-of-160 passes for 1,063 yards, with five touchdowns and eight interceptions. Hodges remains on the Pittsburgh Steelers roster as a part of the practice squad.  He finished off his career as one of the most prolific passers and decorated quarterbacks in Division I college football history, as he was a three-time first-team All-SoCon selection, as well as being a three-time SoCon Offensive Player of the Year.

Samford quarterback Devlin Hodges

Memorable Games From This Past Decade:

 Furman defeats Central Florida 16-15 in 2015—Though it wasn’t a win over a great FBS program considering the fact that the Knights went winless during the 2015 season, however, anytime an FCS program can get a win over an FBS program, it’s certainly a noteworthy moment. The Paladins needed a 55-yard field goal from Jon Croft Hollingsworth with 12:10 remaining in the game, and the Paladin defense held strong the rest of the way en route to the one-point win. The Paladins had fallen behind 12-0 midway through the second quarter. 

Furman defeats UCF

Georgia Southern shocks Florida in 2013—There is no better time to shock one of the big boys than your last game as a member of the Football Championship Subdivision, however, that’s exactly what head coach Jeff Monken’s Eagles would do. Led by the fourth-highest rushing tally in school history, the Eagles rolled up 429 yards on the ground to forge a 26-20 win at The Swamp. Led by quarterback Kevin Ellison and slot back Jerick McKinnon, who combined for 243  and three touchdowns, the Eagles ran through and around the Gators all afternoon. McKinnon paced the Eagles with 125 yards and one rushing score on just nine rush attempts, while Ellison finished with 118 rush yards and a pair of scores on 15 rushing attempts. The win was the first-ever for Georgia Southern over an FBS or BCS program. The Eagles were previously 0-19 against FBS foes.

Georgia Southern upsets Florida in 2013

The Citadel Defeats Georgia Tech in 2019—For the first time in school history, The Citadel knocked off an Atlantic Coast Conference foe when it downed Georgia Tech, 27-24, in overtime at Bobby Dodd Stadium in Atlanta.  The Bulldogs jumped out to the lead early and never looked back en route to getting the win, as quarterback Brandon Rainey hooked up with wideout Raleigh Webb for a 30-yard scoring pass to give the Bulldogs a 7-0 lead early in the opening quarter of play. The Yellow Jackets got on the board early in the second quarter when Jordan Mason scored on a 4-yard run, however, Wesley Wells missed the PAT, leaving the Bulldogs in the lead by the narrowest of margins, at 7-6. The Citadel would take the momentum into the halftime locker room, as Dante Smith’s 12-yard scoring run with just 15 seconds to play in the half gave the Bulldogs 14-6 lead going into the break. In the third quarter, it would be the Yellow Jackets, who would get on the board first, as Lucas Johnson found Jalen Camp for a 33-yard touchdown connection, as Georgia Tech got within 14-12. Instead of kicking the PAT, the Yellow Jackets opted for the two-point conversion and the tie, and it would be converted, as Camp caught a two-yard pass from Johnson to bring the game level, 14-14, with 10:50 to play in the third quarter. The Bulldogs would answer on the ensuing possession, as The Citadel used a nine-play, 75-yard drive to take a 21-14 lead. Rainey waltzed into the end zone on a beautifully designed quarterback counter, as he scampered 22 yards for the score and Jacob Godek’s PAT would put the Bulldogs up seven with 6:05 left in the third. The Yellow Jackets wouldn’t go away, however, as midway through the fourth quarter, Mason scampered 25 yards for the score, tying the game, 21-21, with 7:29 remaining. It looked as though The Citadel might win the game in regulation, as Brian Murdaugh entered the game to replace an injured Rainey, and engineered a 11-play drive, taking precious time off the clock for the Yellow Jackets, and Godek trotted on and nailed a 47-yard field goal to give the Bulldogs a 24-21 lead with 1:51 remaining. However, Georgia Tech had just enough time to answer and send the game to overtime, as a big kickoff return set up the Yellow Jackets in great field position, and Brenton King knocked through a 34-yard field goal to tie the game, 24-24, as time expired. In the extra session, the Yellow Jackets got the ball first, and a sack by Joseph Randolph II put Georgia Tech in a precarious situation. That would eventually force King into a long field goal attempt, and his 46-yard field goal attempt was wide left, leaving the door open for the Bulldogs to pull the upset on the road. The Bulldogs ran the ball three plays and set the ball up in the middle of the field for the game-winning kick. His 37-yard field goal was good, and the Bulldogs emerged with a 27-24 win. It was the only win the SoCon recorded over an FBS team in 2019, and the only power five team to be defeated by an FCS program during the 2019 season. It was also Georgia Tech’s first loss to an FCS team since Furman defeated the Yellow Jackets in 1983. 

The Citadel takes down Georgia Tech

ETSU shocks Furman in 2018—One of the more shocking and exciting come-from-behind wins in the past decade, and was a game that helped propel the ETSU Bucs to only its SoCon title in program history occurred in 2018 when the Bucs knocked off Furman at William B. Greene Stadium in Johnson City. The game will go down as one of the best games in ETSU history, and it was senior quarterback Austin Herink that would lead the way to victory for the Bucs after replacing Logan Marchi in the third quarter. The Bucs trailed 27-6 midway through the third quarter and it was Herink that would come in help ignite the miraculous come-from-behind win. Behind Herink, the Bucs scored 23 unanswered points, but it would be veteran linebacker Dylan Weigel that would make the play that would end up providing the winning points for the Bucs, as he tackled Furman running back Darius Morehead in the end zone for a safety to give the Bucs the 29-27 lead with just over two minutes remaining in the contest. In just a quarter-and-a-half of play, Herink finished completing 9-of-14 passes for 202 yards. 

ETSU’s miraculous win over Furman

Appalachian State steals one in the Scenic City in 2010—Maybe the most memorable matchup of the decade was when Appalachian State and Chattanooga kicked off the 2010 season against each other in a big Southern Conference test in the Scenic City of Chattanooga. Appalachian State was the established FCS and SoCon power, while Chattanooga was the team trying to make some noise In the SoCon and in the FCS as an emerging power. What transpired over the 60-minute contest was an instant SoCon classic.  It would be the first Southern Conference game of the decade, and it would take a near miraculous comeback win for the 42-41 victory.  The win accounts for the biggest comeback in Mountaineer football history.

East Tennessee State defeats Kennesaw State in 2016—A season after East Tennessee State was throttled, 56-16, by Kennesaw State in its return to the gridiron for the first time in 13 years, and KSU’s first-ever game, the Bucs exacted sweet revenge a year later, posting a 20-17 win on the road in dramatic fashion. The Bucs needed a pair of overtimes before JJ Jerman delivered the game-winning, 24-yard field goal to deliver the Bucs one of its defining moments in its return to the football gridiron. The Bucs trailed only once in the contest, which came when KSU posted a 10-play, 50-yard drive with Owls quarterback Trey White finishing off the drive with a 9-yard scoring run with just two seconds to play in the half. The Bucs took a 17-10 lead in overtime, following an Austin Herink 34-yard touchdown pass. Down to its final down on 4th-and-22, Owls quarterback Chandler Burks connected with wideout Justin Sumpter for a 42-yard touchdown to make it a 17-17 contest.  ETSU got the chance to score its first major win as a program since its return to the gridiron a year earlier, as Jordan Genovese missed a a chip-shot, 30-yard field goal. That left the door open for the upset win, and one that would help avenge the lopsided loss from a year earlier, needing only a field goal for the win. JJ German converted a 24-yard field goal in the extra session, sending the ETSU sidelines into a frenzy, as the Bucs pulled off the 2016 upset win. 

ETSU takes down Kennesaw State

Georgia Southern defeats No. 1 Appalachian State in 2010—Georgia Southern would record its first win since 2007, defeating top-ranked Appalachian State 21-14 in overtime at Paulson Stadium. Things came full circle for top-ranked Appalachian State Saturday afternoon, with the Mountaineers’ trip to Statesboro, GA, take on an unranked, but battle-tested Georgia Southern club.Prior to kickoff, the Eagles, who had lost three of their last four games coming into their showdown with the Black and Gold, stood as the last team to have defeated the Mountaineers in Southern Conference play, ending ASU’s 30-game winning streak with a 38-35 win in Boone (Oct. 20, 2007). Saturday, the Eagles ended another impressive ASU Streak with 21-14 win over the Mountaineers that snapped ASU’s 26-game winning streak, which ranked second to only West Virginia’s 30-game winning streak in league play, established from 1952-59. GSU may have kept some glimmer of hope for the FCS postseason themselves with Saturday’s win over the Black and Gold, needing to win out to finish 7-4 and have an opportunity to claim one of those 10 at-large bids. Now, ASU, who lost two league games only to share the league title with Wofford during that ‘07 season, must face the other “last opponent” to defeat the Mountaineers in league play when the Terriers travel to Boone on Saturday. Wofford was able to claim a 42-31 victory in Spartanburg back in ‘07, but haven’t come away from Boone victorious since a 26-19 on a homecoming afternoon at The Rock back in ’02. The Mountaineers appeared to have gotten off to a strong start in front of a capacity crowd of 20,073 at Paulson Stadium, as ASU took a 14-0 lead on DeAndre Presley’s 3-yard scoring run late in the first quarter. Early in the second quarter, the Mountaineers looked as if they were going to put the game away when Devon Moore scampered to the end zone after breaking a couple of tackles for an apparent 20-0 ASU lead. However, the play came back, as the Apps were flagged for holding. Three plays later, Presley threw his first of two INTs on the day, as All-SoCon cornerback LaRon Scott picked off his pass. Presley, who didn’t thrown an INT through the first seven games this season, has now thrown three in two weeks. Sparked by this turn of events, GSU quarterback Jaybo Shaw and the Georgia Southern offense would flex its muscles, scoring 21-unanswered points in the remaining three quarters and overtime to claim their second win over a ranked opponent this season (38-21 win over No. 10 Elon on Sept. 25). The second and third quarters were dominated by GSU’s ball-control flexbone offense, which resembled the time-consuming and demoralized defenses during the Erk Russell and Tim Stowers eras at GSU.  GSU got on the board for the first time on Saturday with a 14-play, 56-yard drive, allowing the Eagles to get to the locker room possessing the momentum after Shaw’s 1-yard plunge with five seconds remaining. GSU made even better use of the opening drive of the second half, mounting a 16-play, 76-yard drive, which chewed up well over half of the third quarter. The Eagles consumed 9:27 of the third quarter clock, capped by Darreion Robinson’s 2-yard scoring run to tie the game, 14-14. Early in the fourth quarter, it looked as if the ASU offense might re-assert its control of the game, after struggling against GSU’s stingy defensive unit in the second and third quarters. However, facing a 3rd-and-7 at the GSU 14, Presley threw his second red zone interception of the afternoon, as linebacker Michael Butler stepped in front of the junior signal-caller’s pass, which was intended for CoCo Hillary at the one, and returned it 22 yards to the GSU 23. From that point, it was the GSU defense that was able to set the tone for the remainder of the day. With the score tied 14-14 at the end of regulation, GSU would get the ball first in the extra session, and the Eagles made the most of that possession. It didn’t appear that it would be that way, as the Eagles faced a crucial 3rd-and-5 play from the ASU 20, but Shaw made perhaps his biggest play of the afternoon, as he rushed up the middle for 16 yards to give the Eagles a first down at the ASU four. True freshman running back Robert Brown provided the winning points one play later, as he found his way to GSU pay dirt on a 4-yard scamper. Adrian Mora added the extra point, giving the Eagles a 21-14 lead. ASU’s first possession of overtime would turn out to be the last possession of the afternoon. The Black and Gold got maybe its best consecutive rushing efforts from preseason Walter Payton Award candidate running back Devon Moore this season, as he gained 18 yards on two running plays to get the Mountaineers within seven yards of tying the contest. However, Presley was tackled for a loss of four yards on the ensuing play, and GSU forced ASU into its second red zone turnover of the day on the very next play, as Presley scrambled for a yard. But GSU defensive back forced a fumble, and Eagle linebacker Josh Rowe recovered the ball at the 10 to end the game and set off raucous celebrations at Allen E. Paulson Stadium.

A taste of the App State-Georgia Southern rivalry

Appalachian State returns the favor vs. top-ranked Georgia Southern in 2012—It’s not a big surprise that the Appalachian State vs. Georgia Southern game would make my list multiple times for the greatest games of the decade. There was always something on the line when these two met as Southern Conference rivals, and in the latter of both teams’ membership in the Southern Conference, there was seemingly one team or the other ranked No. 1 in the nation. In 2012, the Mountaineers faced a top-ranked Georgia Southern team on their home turf at Paulson Stadium and came away with a 31-28 win over the Eagles. The game essentially decided the Southern Conference champion. Quarterback Jamal Jackson hooked up with wideout Tony Washington for a 23-yard scoring strike with 11:25 remaining. With App State’s win coupled with Samford’s 24-17 double-overtime win over Wofford, it trimmed Georgia Southern’s lead in the standings to just a half-game over Appalachian State and Wofford. App State freshman wide receiver Sean Price had a field day catching the football against the Eagles, hauling in seven passes for 231 yards and a touchdown, which was a Paulson Stadium receiving record. After Washington hauled in the game-winning pass from Jackson with just over 11 minutes left, the App State defense would do enough the rest of the to ensure the win, despite giving up 552 yards of total offense for the game to the Eagles triple-option attack. 

Samford upsets league-leading Chattanooga in 2013—One of the key games in deciding the 2013 Southern Conference race would turn out to be the one between Samford and Chattanooga at Seibert Stadium in Birmingham, and it took a 43-yard field goal from redshirt freshman place-kicker Warren Handrahan for the Bulldogs to survive in getting a 17-14 overtime win over league-leading and 17th-ranked Chattanooga, turning the SoCon race into a logjam at the top of the standings. The win saw the Bulldogs improve to 7-4 overall and 5-2 in Southern Conference play, while the Mocs dropped to 8-3 overall and finished league play with a 6-2 overall mark. Samford was led by quarterback Andy Summerlin in what was a defensive struggle, as the senior completed 13-of-23 passes for 199 yards and a pair of touchdowns. Defensively, it was defensive back Jaquiski Tartt that led the way, setting a new career-high with 17 tackles in the win. Chattanooga quarterback Jacob Huesman finished the contest by connecting on 28-of-34 passes for 265 yards and a score, but was sacked five times in the contest by the stingy Samford defense. Summerlin gave the Bulldogs a 7-0 lead when he connected with Karel Hamilton on a six-yard scoring strike. The Bulldogs added to their lead with 7:04 remaining in the third quarter, when Chris Cephus hauled in a 92-yard scoring strike from Summerlin to increase the Bulldogs lead to 14-0.  Chattanooga scored its first points of the afternoon when linebacker Wes Dothard picked off a Summerlin pass  and returned it 70 yards for a touchdown with 13:07 remaining in the game. The Mocs would tie the football game with just under five minutes remaining, as Huesman connected with tight end Faysal Shafaat on a three-yard scoring strike, knotting the score, 14-14. That score would hold up until the end of regulation, and Samford would get the football first in the overtime. After the Mocs defense held the Bulldog offense, Samford was forced to settle for a Warren Handrahan field goal attempt from 43 yards, and he converted the crucial kick to give the Bulldogs the lead. The Samford defense managed to hold Huesman and the Mocs offense to a field goal attempt on their first possession of overtime, however, Nick Pollard’s field goal attempt hit the left missed his second attempt of the day, as his 45-yard attempt struck the left upright, allowing the Bulldogs to escape with the win.

Furman wins at Georgia Southern in 2013—Furman went on the road and was able to steal a 16-14 win over Georgia Southern in what turned out to be the final meeting between the two as FCS members. It was a rivalry that got its start in the 1985 national championship game, with the Eagles producing what was a miraculous come-from-behind win over the Paladins, 44-42, in Tacoma, Wahsington. The Paladins headed into the final month of the regular-season, and a playoff spot, much less a shot at a 13th Southern Conference title seemed like, if anything, a very remote possibility.  However, as the final month of the regular season progressed, the Paladins would not only begin to hit their stride as a football team, but would also begin to get the help they needed for all the right dominoes to fall into place to win a league crown and receive the SoCon’s automatic bid. However, Furman played one of its best defensive games of the 2013 season to end up getting the all-important win. With the Furman defense needing show its mettle just “one more time,” the Paladins would not let the Eagles move it very far, as the Paladins allowed the Eagles just 20 yards before regaining possession of the football, as defensive end Ira McCune hit Huggins, who didn’t take the hand-off cleanly from McKinnon, and McCune would seize that opportunity, stripping the ball away from the bull of a running back, notching the Paladins’ third takeaway of the day and giving the Paladins the football back at the GSU 45 with 5:06 remaining. The Paladins would convert a pair of first downs, with one huge play coming from backup McCloud proving to be the decisive play, as he gained nine yards to gain a first down, and Georgia Southern opted not to use its timeout on the crucial third-and-2 play and the Paladins would run the remaining time off the clock to seal their first win in Statesboro since 2009. Furman improved to 4-5 overall and 3-2 in league play, while Georgia Southern dropped to 5-5 overall and 2-3 in Southern Conference play. 

Samford wins last-second thriller over Elon in 2013—Elon’s last game as a Southern Conference member prior to moving to the Colonial Athletic Association would turn out to be a forgettable one, due to the fact that it would be a loss that would occur in such heartbreaking fashion. On the other side of the football, it helped the Bulldogs gain a share of the Southern Conference title, which they have since had to vacate due to playing with an ineligible player. However, the game between the Bulldogs and Phoenix still stands out of the more memorable games of the decade. Samford quarterback Andy Summerlin hooked up with wideout Chris Cephus for a 12-yard scoring strike in the corner of the end zone with just seven seconds remaining, allowing the 23rd-ranked Bulldogs to post a 33-32 win over Elon. Instead of going for the PAT, the Bulldogs opted for the two-point conversion, which failed.  The win coupled with Furman’s win over Wofford in its regular-season finale, meant Furman claimed the SoCon’s automatic bid to the 2013 FCS playoffs by virtue of its wins over The Citadel and Georgia Southern, which were responsible for handing both Chattanooga and Samford two of their conference losses, while Furman claimed wins over both. That’s what ended up breaking the three-way tie between the trio in the first of two seasons of the decade in which there was a three-way tie for the title. Samford got the ball back with just 2:31 left, trailing the contest 32-27 before Summerlin was able to engineer a 12-play, 75-yard drive. 

VMI wins overtime thriller at SoCon defending champion East Tennessee State in 2019—One of the most exciting games of the season that just passed was an early-conference clash between a suddenly improved VMI team and defending Southern Conference champion East Tennessee State. In one of the wildest games of the season, and one that featured more than two hours of weather delays, the Keydets battled to what was a monumental 31-24 overtime win at William Greene Stadium to signal a vastly improved VMI team and the road win sent shockwaves the rest of the league, showing that VMI was a team that had to be taken seriously. Trailing the game 24-21 late following a 61-yard scoring run from ETSU’s Jacob Saylors, VMI’s response was swift, using a 29-yard run by Alex Ramsey up the middle in which he hurdled an ETSU defensive back, and that would set up a 30-yard field goal attempt from Grant Clemons, which tied the game, 24-24. Quarterback Reece Udinksi found wide receiver Javeon Lara on a 21-yard score and catch to give the Keydets a 31-24 lead in overtime following Clemons’ PAT. ETSU was able to reach the VMI 5 on its possession in overtime, but could get no closer. A 1-yard rush and three consecutive incomplete passes helped the Keydets seal a monumental SoCon road win. 

The Citadel completes big come-from-behind win over Chattanooga in 2011—The Citadel had plenty of thrilling wins in the 2010s, but few could probably match the come-from-behind win the Bulldogs were able to get against Chattanooga in 2011. The Bulldogs found themselves down by 24 points at the half, as Chattanooga held a 24-0 lead at the break. Early in the second half, a Nick Pollard 21-yard field goal  with 9:39 remaining in the third quarter increased Chattanooga;s lead to 27-0. The Citadel would begin their comeback from there, using an interception to create a short field to set up its first score of the day. It took the Bulldogs just four plays to move the ball 20 yards, which was capped by a 1-yard scoring scamper from quarterback Ben Dupree to make it a 27-7 contest with 5:21 remaining in the third quarter. After the Bulldog defense  stopped Chattanooga again, forcing the Mocs to punt it away, the Bulldogs needed seven plays to cover 72 yards, and it was again Dupree that called his own number, scampering 42 yards for the score to make it a 27-14 game  with just seven seconds remaining in the third quarter. Midway through the fourth quarter, the Bulldogs would inch even closer after making a big play on special teams. Rod Harland picked up a blocked punt and raced 40- yards for the score, bringing The Citadel to within six points, at 27-21, with 7:46 left. Following another big stop by the Bulldogs, the offense got the ball back with 5:37 left in the contest. The Citadel needed just eight plays to drive 71 yards, culminating with a Darien Robinson 3-yard scoring run to give The Citadel the lead, 28-27, following the PAT.  The Citadel would intercept a B.J. Coleman pass on the ensuing possession and the offense got two first downs to run out the clock and help The Citadel to a storybook-type win over the No. 15 team in the nation. The Bulldogs ground attack, which generated just 28 yards in the opening 30 minutes of football, would churn out 206 yards on the ground in the second half en route to the win.  

Mercer wins at Paladin Stadium in 2015—In what was Bobby Lamb’s return as the opposing head coach to his alma mater in 2015, it would turn out to be sweet revenge for the head coach that led Furman to the 1985 national title game as a player and was named 2004 SoCon Coach of the Year after leading the Paladins to the No. 2 overall seed in the FCS playoffs and a share of the Southern Conference title that very same season. Mercer pulled off a 27-20 overtime win over the Paladins in one of the thrillers of the 2015 campaign in Southern Conference play. Mercer held a precarious 20-14 lead in the fourth quarter, but Furman would respond. It appeared the Paladins had scored the game-winning touchdown in the contest with 43 seconds left, as Kealand Dirks rumbled in from two yards out, however, was penalized for spiking the football forcing the Paladins into a 35-yard PAT. Jon Croft Hollingsworth would miss the PAT, leaving the score tied, 20-20. The Bears would take a knee on the football to force overtime. In the extra session, the Bears  got what proved to be the game-winning score when Alex Lakes scored on a 2-yard run to give Bears a 27-20 lead. Then, on Furman’s possession in overtime, Zach Jackson intercepted P.J. Blazejowski’s pass, which ended the contest and gave Mercer its first-ever win at Paladin Stadium. 

Wofford wins thriller over Furman in Clay Hendrix’s as head coach debut in 2017—Just like the 2020 season, Wofford and Furman opened the season against one another to commence the 2017 season.  Wofford entered the season as the prohibitive favorites to claim the Southern Conference title, while Furman was under the leadership of a new head coach, as Clay Hendrix took over the program as the head coach in what was his first season as a college football coach. In what was one of game’s of the 2017 Southern Conference regular-season, Wofford was able to escape with a 24-23 win over the Paladins.  Two Southern Conference rivals with great pedigree as championship-laden programs opened the season against each other for the first time since 1946.  The Furman-Wofford rivalry is the oldest in the Palmetto State and one of the oldest in the deep south, having commenced in 1889. The game would play out as a Southern Conference classic, with #11 Wofford knocking off Furman, 24–23, Saturday night at Gibbs Stadium. The win marked by the Terriers marked the first time since joining the SoCon as an official member in 1997 that Wofford has claimed wins in three-consecutive seasons over the Paladins. Trailing 24–17 with 2:46 remaining, the Paladins got the ball back with one final opportunity to score in the contest. Furman needed 76 yards on its final possession to find paydirt, and following a 21-yard pass from P.J. Blazejowski-to-Thomas Gordon to get the ball to the Wofford 44 to keep the Paladin drive alive with a little over a minute left.  On the very next play, Furman junior running back Triston Luke jaunted 44 yards down the Paladin sideline for a potential game-tying score with a successful PAT. After a timeout, however, the Paladins opted to go for two and the potential winning points in head coach Clay Hendrix’s first game at the helm of the Furman football program. The Paladins would go to their bag of tricks on the two-point play, as Furman used a direct snap to Ridge Gibson who then pitched on an end-around to freshman wideout Ryan DeLuca, who tossed the ball towards into triple coverage for intended receiver Blazejowski, but Wofford  defensive back Malik Rivera intercepted the DeLuca offering, essentially resulting in a 24–23 win for the Terriers. 

The Citadel Takes Down South Carolina in 2015–If anyone needed an indication that The Citadel football program was back and a program ready to take the next step under head coach Mike Houston, it came late in the 2015 regular-season in a game between The Citadel and FBS South Carolina. With the Gamecocks having made a coaching change during the season following Steve Spurrier stepping down and handing the reins to offensive line coach Shawn Elliott, things hadn’t gone well for South Carolina, and the Gamecocks are primed for the upset, and that’s exactly what would happen, as the Bulldogs would get the 23-22 win over South Carolina at Williams-Brice Stadium. On the strength of 174 rushing yards and two touchdowns from Tyler Renew, the Bulldogs would go on to the one-point win. Renew’s 174 yards rushing were the most yards gained on the ground against a South Carolina defense since Arkansas running back Darren McFadden rushed for 219 yards against the Gamecocks defense in 2006. The Bulldogs out-gained the Gamecocks 135-95 in the opening quarter en route to a 14-3 lead. The Gamecocks wouldn’t record their first touchdown of the game until 6:22 remaining in the third quarter when Brandon Wilds plunged in from a yard out to conclude what was an 11-play, 80-yard drive to give South Carolina a 16-14 lead. The Citadel would respond just under five minutes into the fourth quarter, as Erik Goins connected on a 48-yard field goal to conclude an impressive 12-play, 62-yard drive to help The Citadel re-take the lead, 17-16, with 10:26 remaining. The see-saw affair would continue when Pharaoh Cooper hauled on a 41-yard scoring pass Perry Orth to put the Gamecocks back on top, 22-17, with 8:40 left. South Carolina would attempt the two-point conversion, but Brandon Shell’s rush failed, leaving the margin at five. The Bulldogs and Renew had one final, defining answer, however, as he scampered 56 yards for the score with 6:07 remaining. After Renew’s run on the two-point attempt, it left the Bulldogs clinging to a 23-22 lead. On the ensuing South Carolina possession, the Bulldogs came up with their biggest defensive play of the game, as the Bulldogs came up with a huge stop on a 4th-and-1` play to get the ball back on its own 46-yard line with 4:07 left. The Citadel would face a crucial 3rd-and-1 play of its own with 2:37 left, but Renew continued to work on South Carolina’s tired defensive front, giving the Bulldogs a first down. The Citadel, however, was forced to punt three plays later. Will Vanvick’s punt was downed on South Carolina’s 3-yard line with 1:26 to play. It appeared the Gamecocks had rescued the game when Orth hooked up with Cooper for a 94-yard scoring strike on 4th down, however, the play was flagged as a dead play as the result of a false start penalty on the Gamecocks. With the ball back in its possession, The Citadel would take a knee to run out the clock en route to the dramatic one-point win. It was the first Bulldog win over an FBS foe since 1992.

The Citadel upsets South Carolina 2015

SoCon Team of the Decade: (Offense)

QB—Devlin Hodges (Samford, 2016-19)

RB—Eric Breitenstein (Wofford, 2009-12)

RB—Jerodis Williams (Furman, 2009-12)

TE—Colin Anderson (Furman, 2009-12)

OL—Matt Pyke (East Tennessee State, 2015-19)

OL—Dakota Dozier (Furman, 2010-13)

OL—Corey Levin (Chattanooga, 2013-16)

OL—Jared Singleton (Wofford, 2010-13)

OL—Mike Sellers (The Citadel, 2010-13)

WR—Kelvin McKnight—(Samford, 2015-18)

WR—Aaron Mellette (Elon, 2009-12)

WR—Brian Quick (Appalachian State, 2007-11)

SoCon Team of the Decade (Defense):

DL—Davis Tull (Chattanooga,  2011-14)

DL—Brent Russell (Georgia Southern,  2009-12)

DL—Ahmad Gooden (Samford, 2015-18)

DL—Amet Pall (Wofford, 2008-11)

LB—Corey Magwood (Furman, 2012-15)

LB—Wes Dothard (Chattanooga, 2010-13)

LB—Dylan Weigel (ETSU, 2014-18)

DB—Jaquaski Tartt (Samford,  2010-11)

DB—James Bradberry (Samford, 2012-14)

DB—Kailik Williams (The Citadel, 2014-17)

DB—Ryan Steed (Furman, 2008-11)

PK—Grayson Atkins (Furman, 2016-19)/JJ Jerman (ETSU, 2015-18)

P-Sam Martin (Appalachian State, 2009-12)

PK—Grayson Atkins (Furman, 2016-19)/JJ Jerman (ETSU, 2015-18)

RS—Laron Scott (Georgia Southern, 2008-11)/Fabian Truss (Samford,)

Second Team Offense:

QB—Jacob Huesman (Chattanooga, 2012-16)

RB/QB—Jerrick McKinnon (Georgia Southern, 2010-13)

RB—Detrez Newsome (Western Carolina, 2014-18)

OL—Pat Illig (Wofford, 2007-10)

OL—Josh Burger (Wofford, 2016-19)

OL—Isaiah Pinson (The Citadel, 2014-17)

OL—Matthew Schmidt (Furman, 2014-17)

OL—Blake Jeresaty (Wofford, 2016-19)

TE—Faysal Shafaat (Chattanooga, 2011-14)

WR—Karel Hamilton (Samford, 2013-16)

WR—Bryce Nunnelly(Chattanooga, 2017-present)

Second Team Defense:

DL–Gary Wilkins (Furman, 2011-14)

DL–Nick Williams (Samford, 2009-12)

DL–Keointa Davis (Chattanooga, 2013-16)

DL–Ronald Blair (Appalachian State, 2011-14)

LB–Nakevion Leslie (Chattanooga, 2013-16)

LB —Alvin Scioneaux (Wofford, 2010-13)

LB–Justin Cooper (Samford, 2012-15)

DB–Dee Delaney (The Citadel, 2013-16)

DB–Marvin Tillman (Western Carolina, 2015-18)

DB–Lucas Webb (Chattanooga, 2014-17)

DB–Jamerson Blount (Samford, 2013-15)

Team of the Decade: T-Wofford and Chattanooga

Offensive Player of the Decade: Devlin Hodges, Samford

Defensive Player of the Decade: Davis Tull, Chattanooga

Coach of the Decade: Mike Ayers, Wofford

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