Statesboro, GA – Georgia Southern looking for their first win after a shut out loss to West Virginia. The Eagles taking on the Western Michigan Broncos at home Saturday, September 12th. The Eagles have won eight straight home openers, and tonight it’s nine beating the Broncos 43 to 17.
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ARTICLE FROM GEORGIA SOUTHERN ATHLETICS:
STATESBORO, Ga. – Football coaches say their teams make their biggest improvement from the first game to the second, and that certainly seemed to be the case for Georgia Southern Saturday night in the Eagles’ home opener in Paulson Stadium.
A week after being shut out at Big 12 opponent West Virginia, Matt Breida rushed for 176 yards and four touchdowns, averaging 16 yards a clip, and the offensive line helped the Eagles roll up 413 yards and five touchdowns on the ground in a 43-17 win over Western Michigan in front of 23,520 fans.
Favian Upshaw added 103 yards on 16 carries, and Wesley Fields rushed six times for 82 yards. L.A. Ramsby gained 43 yards and a touchdown on the ground.
“It was a great job by our offensive line and our receivers,” said Breida. “There were huge holes. I think that game last week helped our offensive line a lot and tonight you can see it.”
The defense and special teams turned in an excellent performances as well, and two interceptions by Antonio Glover in Bronco territory turned into 10 points for Georgia Southern. The senior safety added a third for good measure, tying the Paulson Stadium record for interceptions by an Eagle, and made seven tackles. Matt Dobson led the Eagles with nine stops and a breakup, and Georgia Southern gave up just 25 rushing yards.
Zach Terrell threw for 227 yards and two touchdowns and connected with Daniel Braveman 13 times for 122 yards and a score to lead Western Michigan (0-2).
After Western Michigan scored late in the first half, Breida put a damper on any thoughts of a comeback on the second play of the third quarter when he took a handoff, veered right and raced down the sideline for a 70-yard touchdown. It was the eighth time in the junior’s career that he has rushed for a TD of 50 yards or more and put the Eagles on top 30-9.
Upshaw closed the door for good in the fourth quarter after Western Michigan scored a touchdown and added a two-point conversion to cut the margin to 33-17. The junior’s 40-yard scamper set up a 1-yard touchdown run for Ramsby, extending the cushion to 40-17 with 6:32 left in the game.
“That was a phenomenal effort,” said Georgia Southern coach Willie Fritz. “I told the guys in the locker room that might be the best team that’s come into Paulson. That was a quality, quality win. We did a great job in all three phases by the whole team. We didn’t play well last week, and we just wanted a chance to reestablish ourselves. Guys played hungry, we ran the ball well and really opened up some things.”
After Western Michigan capped its first drive of the game with an Andrew Haldeman 34-yard field goal, Georgia Southern got on the scoreboard when Breida ran up the middle for a 9-yard touchdown with 3:21 left in the first quarter.
The Eagles got their first safety since 2010 when an errant snap sailed over the head of Bronco punter J. Schroeder and traveled 34 yards into the end zone, where the senior batted it out of the back of the end zone.
On the ensuing drive, the Eagles went 61 yards in 11 plays, and Breida made it a 16-3 cushion with a 4-yard touchdown run with 5:06 left in the first half. A 17-yard scamper by Upshaw and a 15-yard roughing the passer penalty against the Broncos keyed the drive.
Fantastic kick coverage and a penalty pinned the Broncos on their own 2-yard line on the ensuing kickoff, and Glover got the first takeaway of the season when he picked off Terrell at the Bronco 42. Breida found a hole up the middle and broke to the left for a 34-yard touchdown two plays later to give the Eagles a 23-3 advantage with 3:38 to go.
The Terrell to Braveman show took over right before the end of the half as the two connected on pass plays six times for 68 yards. The last completion was a 7-yard touchdown with 28 seconds left, but the Broncos missed the extra point, making the margin 23-9 at halftime.
It was the Eagles’ first home game against a non-conference FBS opponent and their first contest against any team from the state of Michigan.
The Eagles take on an old rival when The Citadel visits Paulson Stadium Saturday, Sept. 19, with kickoff set for 6 p.m. It’s Military Appreciation Day, Family Weekend and Cheerleader for a Day.
“I looked at the scores from the last four years against The Citadel,” said Fritz. “We lost one, and the other three were close ball games. Every week we’re trying to get better, and we have to do that again this week.”
Fans can purchase tickets and select their seats online, by calling 1-800-GSU-WINS or by visiting the ticket office in the Cowart Building adjacent to Paulson Stadium (203 Lanier Drive). Ticket office hours are Monday-Friday from 8 a.m.-5 p.m.
Georgia Southern Athletics provides up-to-date information on all its sports through its official website, GSEagles.com, through social media channels facebook.com/GSAthletics, twitter.com/GSAthletics, iOS app Georgia Southern Eagles and Android app Eagles GATA. Fans can purchase tickets to Georgia Southern Athletics events by calling 1-800-GSU-WINS or by visiting GSEagles.com.