Statesboro, GA – There’s only two more home games for the Georgia Southern Eagles. Today, November 28th the Eagles hosted the South Alabama Jaguars. The Jaguars got on the board early in the first quarter with a short touchdown run by Tyreis Thomas. But a little while later Kevin Ellison ran the ball in to tie the game. The Eagles would blow past the Jaguars winning 55-17. GSU is home for their last regular season game as they host state rival Georgia State.
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ARTICLE FROM GEORGIA SOUTHERN ATHLETICS:
STATESBORO, Ga. – Matt Breida rushed for 187 yards and two touchdowns, and the Georgia Southern defense gave up just 136 yards of offense in a 55-17 Sun Belt Conference football victory over South Alabama Saturday afternoon in Paulson Stadium.
The Eagles (8-3, 6-1) capitalized on five big plays over 40 yards in winning their 11th consecutive home game. Breida had a 75 yard touchdown run along with a 40-yard jaunt, and L.A. Ramsby scored on a 46-yard scamper. Kevin Ellison broke off a 56-yard run that set up a touchdown, and Derek Keaton returned a punt 72 yards to set up another score.
Meanwhile, the Eagle defense was stout, recording two interceptions, four sacks, seven tackles for loss and five pass breakups. After giving up a 75-yard scoring drive on South Alabama’s first series of the contest, the Eagles allowed just 61 yards for the rest of the game and held the Jaguars to 0 for 11 on 3rd-down conversions.
“We were a little sluggish on the first drive, the energy was a little low and we had to adjust to the speed of the game,” senior linebacker Antwione Williams said. “They showed a lot of stuff they hadn’t showed on film, and we did a great job of adjusting and bouncing back strong.”
Ramsby finished with 85 yards on 13 carries, and Ellison rushed nine times for 78 yards and two touchdowns and threw for another score. Keaton finished with 111 yards on four punt returns and caught a 23-yard touchdown pass. Williams led the Eagles with seven tackles and 1.5 sacks, while Darrius White and Darius Jones each picked off a pass.
Xavier Johnson was held to 29 yards on 10 carries for South Alabama (5-6, 3-4), and Cody Clements threw for 64 yards after completing 5 of 12 passes.
“They showed us a few new wrinkles in the beginning of the game,” Georgia Southern coach Willie Fritz said. “We made some adjustments, and they didn’t have much success after that. Holding anybody to 136 yards in this day and age is just outstanding.”
Trailing 14-7, Georgia Southern scored 21 points in the final 6:28 of the first half to take control of the game. Ellison set up a short touchdown run for Breida by keeping the ball on an option play to the right and running 56 yards down to the South Alabama 1-yard line.
The Eagle defense forced a 3-and-out on the Jaguars’ ensuing possession, and Ellison hit Ryan Longoria for a 17-yard pickup to start the Georgia Southern march down the field. Wesley Fields logged two carries for 21 yards before Ellison hit Keaton with a 23-yard touchdown pass in the corner of the end zone with 1:36 left on the clock.
South Alabama tried a long pass on the first play of its next series, and Johnson was stopped for no gain by Ironhead Gallon on second down, prompting Georgia Southern to use one of its three timeouts with 1:16 to play. Clements tried a pass over the middle on third down, and the ball tipped off his receiver’s hands and into the arms of Darrius White, who returned it to the Jaguar 8-yard line. Ellison took it to the 2-yard line with a quarterback keeper and then leaped over the top on 3rd-and-goal to put the Eagles ahead 28-14 with 27 seconds left in the frame.
South Alabama gained field position deep in GS territory early in the third quarter when Ronnie Reed blocked a punt, and the Jags recovered at the Eagle 8-yard line. The Georgia Southern defense came up big and gave up just two yards on three plays, and South Alabama settled for a 24-yard field goal by Aleem Sunanon.
The Eagles extended their lead on the next play from scrimmage as Breida took the handoff, cut right and then back left and raced 75 yards for a touchdown and a 35-17 Georgia Southern cushion. The Eagle defense gave up just 17 yards from scrimmage on South Alabama’s next two possessions, and Georgia Southern tacked on a 21-yard field goal by Younghoe Koo and a nifty, 46-yard touchdown run by Ramsby to run the score to 45-17 at the end of the third quarter.
With the score tied 7-7 and the Eagles driving in the second quarter, Georgia Southern elected to go for it on 4th-and-1 from the Jaguar 34-yard line. Akeem Lewis broke free into the backfield and forced a fumble, which Devon Earl scooped up and dashed 62 yards for the touchdown and a 14-7 South Alabama lead midway through the period. The Jaguars managed to score just three more points the rest of the afternoon.
The Eagles finish out the regular season by playing host to Georgia State next Saturday at 2 p.m. in Paulson Stadium. Two points will be on the line in the Southern vs. State Rivalry Series, it’s Senior Day for the Eagles and it’s a Blue Out in Paulson Stadium.