STATESBORO -- There are plays that don’t seem to be important at the time, but when it’s all said and done, they are indeed significant.
Lamar Scott was involved in such a play Saturday in Georgia Southern’s 23-20 win over Wofford, a victory that earned the Eagles (10-4) an FCS semifinal date with No. 3 seed Delaware (10-2).
The two teams will meet at noon on Saturday in Newark, Del., in a game that will be televised by ESPNU. The other semifinal game between Eastern Washington (11-2) and Villanova (9-4) will be played at 8 p.m. on Friday at Cheyney, Wash. That game will be televised on ESPN2.
This will be the fourth meeting between Georgia Southern and Delaware. All of them have taken place at Delaware, and it will be the first meeting since 2002 when Georgia Southern lost 22-19 in its season opener.
The other two games came in the postseason. The Blue Hens won 16-7 in a 1997 quarterfinal game, and Georgia Southern prevailed 27-18 in a 2000 semifinal matchup. The Eagles won their sixth national title that year.
The Eagles earned the matchup because of a key sequence against Wofford.
Georgia Southern was nursing a 20-10 lead in the fourth quarter when Christian Reed kicked a 27-yard field goal for the Terriers. On the ensuing kickoff, Scott showed why he is one of the leading kick returners in the nation when had a 59-yard return to the Wofford 31. Five plays gained only 11 yards, and Adrian Mora came on to kick a 27-yard field goal.
As it turned out, Mora’s third field goal of the game was the margin of victory as Wofford returned a fumble for a touchdown five minutes later to set the final score.
Three minutes before the Terriers got their gift score, a 19-yard return by Alex Goltry after Robert Brown’s fumble, the Eagles had stopped Wofford at the 3 on downs.
Scott factored in that play, too. He had an assisted tackle on quarterback Mitch Allen, who was initially hit by linebacker Josh Rowe. Allen was inches short.
Facing fourth-and-1, Wofford head coach Mike Ayers never hesitated in going for it, passing up what would have been a 17-yard field goal attempt by Reed who was 13-for-16 on the season.
“I didn’t know if we would get close enough for a touchdown again,” Ayers said of his decision. “If we got a touchdown there, I figured we would get the ball back and get a shot at a field goal.”
Ironically, the Terriers did get the touchdown they wanted, but they ran only more play, and it started at their own 10 with eight seconds on the clock.
After taking over on downs, Georgia Southern ran five plays before the fumble, which came with 5:13 to play.
Georgia Southern, thanks to a face-mask penalty call, managed to control the ball until Charlie Edwards had to punt with 13 seconds left.
Facing a third-and-10 at his own 33 with 2:22 to play, Shaw lost 1 yard, but Goltry was called for a penalty that only the official saw.
“Didn’t see it,” Monken said when asked about the call.
Shaw, when asked, made it clear he did not want to get involved in any controversy.
“I was just playing,” Shaw said. “The refs saw what they saw. Hey, face mask. First down.”
Goltry said all he knew was the penalty couldn’t have been on him as indicated.
“I was running behind the play, and I tackled (Shaw) at the hip,” Goltry said. “If it happened, it was when he was squirting through the hole. Maybe it was a ghost.”
It was the only penalty of the second half called on the Terriers who had six for 55 yards in the game. Wofford was one of the least penalized teams in the nation, being called for 52 for 494 yards (41.2 yards per game) going into the contest.
“The penalty was a killer,” Ayers said. “We were out of time outs and that was it.”
Although both teams were from the Southern Conference, the officiating crew was from the Big South Conference.
“We used to use our officials when two of our teams were playing one another,” Don Lucas, the Southern Conference’s officiating coordinator, said. “But the NCAA stopped doing that three years ago.”
In the Eagles’ first-round game with South Carolina State, the officials were from the Ohio Valley Conference. A Northeast Conference crew worked the Eagles’ game with William and Mary.
Southern Conference officials called Delaware’s 16-3 win over New Hampshire on Friday night.