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RELEASE FROM GEORGIA SOUTHERN UNIVERSITY:
Georgia Southern Football Tops Savannah State 77-9 in Season Opener
Eagles post eighth highest totals in school history in total offense and rushing offense
STATESBORO, Ga. – The walls inside the Georgia Southern locker room were probably starting to feel like they were closing in when a lightning delay 30 minutes before the scheduled 6 p.m. kickoff sent both teams back to Bishop Field House and cleared the fans from the Paulson Stadium. By the end of the night, a record nine different Eagles found their way to the endzone a total of 11 times as Georgia Southern topped Savannah State 77-9 in the 2013 season opener at Paulson Stadium, marking the sixth time the Eagles scored over 70 points in the modern era and did so for the first time since 2001.
The Eagles registered their eighth-best efforts in both total offense and rushing offense Saturday night, with 651 total yards of offense on 79 plays and 576 yards of rushing on 68 carries. Georgia Southern quarterback Jerick McKinnon and junior running back Dominique Swope each had over 100 yards with Swope and William Banks each scoring two touchdowns. Redshirt freshman quarterback Kevin Ellison had 78 yards of rushing and transfer Torrance Hunt had 73 yards in his first game as an Eagle.
McKinnon scored the lone touchdown of the first quarter after escaping a Savannah State defender for a 66-yard run. The Eagle offense shook off the delay in the second quarter, scoring three touchdowns to take a 28-0 lead into the half.
The vaunted Georgia Southern triple option offense revved up in the second half for seven touchdowns. Banks scored his first touchdown, a 20-yard score, on the opening drive of the second half and the Eagles took advantage of a Tiger interception to set up Banks' second TD with a two-yard gain for two of the Eagles three scores in the third quarter. Ellison scored his first career touchdown as an Eagle with a 12-yard scamper on a direct snap.
Savannah State, with most of its offensive production on kick return yardage through the first 40 minutes of the game, scored its first touchdown on a five-yard Kris Drummond reception from Zach Hutchenson late in the third quarter. The Tigers picked up their ninth point after a bad snap sent Ellison to the ground in the endzone for a safety.
Georgia Southern added 28 points in the fourth quarter as Hunt picked up his first touchdown in an Eagle uniform with a 34-yard run. Redshirt freshman Vegas Harley, who substituted in for Kevin Ellison, ran for a 30-yard touchdown on his first career carry. The Eagles punted once, on a drive in the fourth quarter, but came back on the next series and James Dean punched into the endzone on an 18-yard run for his second career touchdown. True freshman Chris Jordan's two rushing yards were all he needed for his first career score.
Linebackers Edwin Jackson and Kyle Oehlbeck shared the lead with five total tackles each. Defensive end Lennie Richardson, who played for the Eagles in 2008 before joining the U.S. Army, had his first career sack against the Tigers. Georgia Southern recorded eight tackles for loss and three sacks on the night as well as three interceptions, including Steve Williams' first career pick.