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Notes from the Sideline: Ga. Southern is only as bad as its secrets

  • UMass running back Bilal Ally, left, powers the ball through the Ga. Southern defense during last week’s 55-20 UMass victory. AP File Photo

  • UMass' Roderick Jones, right, and Chinedu Ogbonn (17) celebrate along the UMass sideline during the first quarter of last week’s 55-20 Minutemen victory. UMass takes on a tough Appalachian State team in this weekend’s home finale. File Photo



For The Recorder
Friday, October 27, 2017

The athletic trainer was waiting for Georgia Southern’s football team to emerge from the visitors’ locker room. He had the trainer look: slim, glasses, short brown hair, he reminded me a little of broadcaster Joe Buck.

“Where’d you guys stay while you were here?” I asked.

“Springfield Sheraton,” he replied.

“When Ohio was here, they flew into one airport and stayed at another,” I said.

“Football coaches are paranoid,” he explained. “They think someone’s gonna go to the hotel and sneak into the meeting.”

He thought for a moment and added, “Although when you see us on the field, you will know that there are no secrets.”

The run-oriented Eagles did pull one rabbit out of the hat, passing on the game’s first play from scrimmage, but the receiver fumbled on the UMass 3-yard line and what would’ve been a long Eagles touchdown became a 93-yard UMass touchdown drive the other way.

Credit the Georgia Southern football fans with having a sense of humor, chanting “Block that kick! Block that kick!” as UMass was lining up for an extra point to give them a 48-10 lead.

The 55-20 loss dropped Georgia Southern to 0-6, and the next day coach Tyson Summers was fired. The last FBS coach to lose to UMass, Florida International’s Ron Turner, was also fired. Yes, losing to UMass can be a coach killer.

The Minutemen will go from from playing the Sun Belt Conference’s cellar-dweller to its league leader this afternoon at McGuirk Alumni Stadium. Appalachian State (5-2 overall, 4-0) moved to the FBS a year after UMass. The Mountaineers average 23,000 fans a game at Kidd Brewer Stadium in Boone, N.C., and are the conference co-champs. They’ve appeared in two bowl games and won both.

Their two losses this year were to third-ranked Georgia (31-10) in the season opener, and to Wake Forest (20-19) when the Demon Deacons blocked a late go-ahead field goal attempt.

Last week Coastal Carolina (1-6) lost at App. State by a surprisingly close score of 37-29 as 23½-point underdogs. The college sports site underdognation.com called App. State a team “that plays down to its competition” and viewed the UMass tilt as a trap game for the Mountaineers, who play conference foe Louisiana-Monroe next week.

The Las Vegas line favors App. State by 3½, but the feeling here is that App. State should be giving upwards of 11 points to the 1-6 Minutemen. Quarterback Taylor Lamp has already set the school record for touchdown passes and the Mountaineers are averaging over 400 yards a game from scrimmage.

The defense features pass rushers Antonious Sims and Rashaad Townes with a combined 9½ sacks, and defensive backs Clifton Duck and Tee Hayes have combined for seven interceptions.

This is the Minutemen’s final home game in Amherst. Next week, they play at Mississippi State, and on Nov. 11 they play Maine at Fenway Park at 4 p.m.

Boston College’s bowl hopes surged after back-to back road wins at Louisville and Virginia. The Eagles were 23½-point underdogs at Louisville, and seven-point ‘dogs in Charlottesville.

Defensive back Taj-Amir Torres, a junior from Amherst Regional High School, had a solo tackle and broke up a pass versus Virginia. The previous week, he caused a fumble that keyed the winning drive against Louisville.

Torres was a three-time high school state champion in the 100-meter dash.

After their 41-10 whuppin’ on Virginia, Eagles coach Steve Addazio told NESN’s sideline reporter: “We’re gonna have a great victory dinner at the Stockyard (in Brighton). You gotta celebrate the wins, they’re hard to come by in Division I and the ACC.”

The Eagles, 4-4 overall and 2-2 in the ACC, are ranked 56th by USA Today. Last night they hosted Florida State at Alumni Stadium.

Williams College hosts Amherst College on Nov. 11 at noon at Farley-Lamb Field in Williamstown. The 132nd renewal of the “Biggest Little Game in America” will be aired live on NESN.

Williams is 4-2 with losses to Tufts and Trinity, and Amherst is 5-1 with its lone blemish at home against Middlebury.

“You may recall Williams was 0-8 last year, so this is pretty exciting times here in ‘The Village Beautiful,’” e-mailed Williams sports information director Dick Quinn. “Counting the punter and place kicker, the Ephs have ten first-year players in those 24 spots.”

The Mammoths, as they’ve now become known, have beaten the Ephs six straight games.

“There is no admission fee,” said Quinn. “Parking’s free at the hockey rink, the town parking lot, the golf course and just off Route 43 in the old town garage dirt lot near the physical plant.”