Howard Faces Tough Foe In Georgia Southern
written by Edward Hill, Jr.
Statesboro, Ga--The Howard University football team takes on a tough opponent as it steps out of conference to play nationally ranked Georgia Southern on Saturday in Paulson Stadium.
The Eagles (7-2) are ranked Number 7 in this week's FCS Poll and could be smarting after losing 31-28 in overtime to Southern Conference foe Appalachian State last Saturday. The loss snapped a six-game win streak and 14-game home streak.
` The Bison (6-3) are coming off a 20-10 win over Hampton last Saturday in which Terrence Leffall rushed for a career-high 182 yards and two TDs.
The Howard defense, which has been hampered of late by the loss of some key starters to injuries, will be tested early and often by the high-powered and explosive Triple Option offense which ranks Number 1 in the country in the FCS, averaging 387 yards on the ground while scoring 35 TDs on the ground. Six runners, including the two quarterbacks, have rushed for more than 300 yards and combined for 34 TDs on the ground.
"When you talk Georgia Southern, you're talking one of the elite programs in the country," praised Howard second year head coach Gary "Flea" Harrell. "Every year, they are right there when it comes to qualifying for the playoffs and a national championship. It is going to be a very tough task, going down there and playing them. I am sure that there is added incentive for them after losing last week and it being their Homecoming and Senior Day."
Harrell continued, "But like I told the players. This is a great opportunity for the program, to be able to play one of the elite programs in the country. It will tell us a lot about where we are as we try to build this program into a playoff contender. We played at Rutgers early in the season and it taught us some things and I am sure that this experience will as well. We are looking forward to the opportunity."
Howard has used a similar formula for its success this season. The Bison average over 211 yards per game on the ground with Leffall leading the way with 779. The 5-10, 210-pound senior from Stone Mountain, Ga, has surpassed the 100-yard mark in all six games he has played this season and has recorded the century mark in 9 of the 11 games he has played, dating back to last season.
Much of Leffall's success can be attributed to the improved play of the Bison offensive line of seniors Cory Gwinner and Davin Morris at the tackles, senior Terrell Hawkins and junior Joshua Matthews at guards and senior Bradley Bush Johnson at center.
The Bison will go against a Georgia Southern defense that has six senior starters and ranks nationally in scoring defense and in pass defense.
Defensively, Howard has gotten some fine play from junior safety Julien David, junior linebacker Tabrian Resby, senior All American linebacker Keith Pough and freshman defensive end Damon Gresham Chisholm.
David, a sure tackling 5-11, 195-pounder from Coral Springs, FL, ranks among the nation's leaders in solo tackles. Pough, who has been hobbled of late with an ankle injury, holds the FCS record for career tackles for losses with 71. The 6-3, 240-pound red-shirt senior is a pro prospect.
Gresham Chisholm has been the pleasant surprise. The 6-3, 250-pound freshman defensive end from Covington, Ga, has come on strong since getting into the starting lineup three games ago. He currently ranks 4th in the country in tackles for losses with 14 and 11th in forced fumbles (3).
The Bison special teams have played a huge role in the team's success, having blocked 10 kicks on the season that either preserved victories or led to them.
This is the first time the two institutions have met. Kickoff is set for 2 pm.