Record Setting Defensive Performance Keys Eagles' Win
STATESBORO, Ga. - Georgia Southern's defense turned in a record-setting performance as the Eagles won their Southern Conference-opener 27-3 over Western Carolina Saturday night (Sept. 19) at Paulson Stadium. The Eagles improved to 2-1 overall and snapped a four-game losing streak in SoCon openers (2004, a 58-14 win over Wofford).
The defense held Western (0-3, 0-1) to minus-12 yards rushing, the second-lowest total allowed in program history and in the process set a Paulson Stadium record. GS also gave up just four first downs (at VMI, Oct. 1993) and none rushing (vs. Valdosta State, Sept. 1992), both matching program records.
After holding Western to a 3-and-out on the opening drive, the Eagles marched down the field. Lee Chapple completed a pass to Jamere Valentine on 3rd-and-5 and Johnathan Bryant on 3rd-and-7 to keep the drive alive. The drive stalled inside the redzone but Adrian Mora converted on a 31-yard field goal for the game's first points.
That field goal marked the 11th consecutive game Mora kicked a field goal (every game of his collegiate career), and in the process set a GS record.
The Eagles again drove into Western territory during the first quarter. Mora's 42-yard field goal attempt was blocked and the Catamounts took over near midfield. Zack Jaynes found Chris Everett for 44 yards. On third down Jaynes went to the endzone but Darrell Pasco recorded the first interception of his career.
Later in the half facing third down from the Eagles' 12, Jaynes found George Richardson but Derek Heyden put the hit on and forced a fumble. Dion DuBose picked up the loose ball on the five and raced 57 yards into Catamount territory. Chapple hit Patrick Barker for a 10-yard gain then a facemask penalty gave GS 1st-and-10 on the WCU 12. Three plays later Chapple hit Valentine on a 13-yard touchdown and Mora's kick made it 10-0.
The Eagles scored again late in the half thanks to a 12-play drive that covered 80 yards. Chapple found Garryon Taylor on a 6-yard TD pass to the right corner of the endzone. Mora's extra point gave GS a 17-0 lead heading into the locker room.
Ronnie Wiggins took the kickoff to start the second half 41 yards into Western territory. An offsides call helped stall the drive inside the 10 as Mora would convert from 23 yards out capping the nine-play drive. That second field goal matched Mora's career-high.
The defense forced Western to punt, but on the return Valentine fumbled and Western recovered on its own 10. Three incomplete passes set up Blake Bostic's 32-yard field goal, making it 20-3 in the final minute of the third quarter.
In the fourth quarter the offense finally punched one into the endzone on the ground. Adam Urbano scored from 13 yards out on 4th-and-1 marking the team's first rushing touchdown this year.
During the second half, the defense held Western to just 16 yards of total offense and no first downs.
"Our goal coming into this game was to be more aggressive defensively which I thought we did. What an outstanding job. We have got to take our hats off to our defense and we should have had a shutout, but those things are hard to come by. But they played an awesome ball game all night long. It made it easy for us offensively," said head coach Chris Hatcher. "One thing we talked about is we have to take some pressure off of Lee Chapple. He's had two games where we have asked him to do too much. We've got a good offensive line and we felt like we just needed to just line up and play some physical football upfront and we did that. We were able to control the clock and we controlled the game from start to finish. I thought we were in great control of the ball game.
"Offensively if we can eliminate a penalty here or there tonight was even a bigger night. But we finally scored some touchdowns and were very excited about that. Hopefully we will build off this game and get a little better each and every week," stated Hatcher.
Chapple finished 26-of-38 through the air for 249 yards and matched a career-high with two touchdown passes.
Urbano rushed a career-high 17 times totaling 78 yards while also setting a personal-best 77 receiving yards on five receptions.
Valentine caught six passes for 54 yards and a TD, his team-leading third this season. Darreion Robinson rushed for 76 yards and caught three passes for 20 yards. In all, 10 different receivers caught a pass as the Eagles out-gained Western 461-194 in total offense.
True-freshman Darius Eubanks led the Eagles with six tackles, including two for a loss. Laron Scott made four stops and broke up a pass in which he nearly came up with an interception and clear path to the endzone. All three of Markeith Wylie's tackles went for a loss, including his first career sack. Pasco not only intercepted his first collegiate pass but also recorded four pass break-ups in the win.
Jaynes completed 13-of-33 passes for 206 yards. Marquel Pittman caught three passes in the first half totaling 93 yards.
Chris Collins recorded a game-high 14 tackles while Adrian McLeod added 13 and Ricky Schwarz finished with 11.
The Eagles travel to Elon next Saturday (Sept. 26) for a Southern Conference contest. Kickoff is scheduled for 1:30 p.m.
GAME NOTES: Mora's first quarter field goal surpassed the former record of 10 straight held by Tim Foley set during the 1985 season... Western recorded three pass completions of 40-plus yards in the first half... The Eagles' 103 rushing yards in the first half were more than the team had in the first two games combined (69 yards)... Georgia Southern kept Western scoreless in the first half this season and to minus-1 yards of rushing. The last time GS kept an opponent scoreless in the first half was at home in 2007 against Western... Wiggins 41-yard kickoff return to start the second half set a personal-best... The previous rushing low by an opponent at Paulson Stadium was 21 yards on two occasions, last by Fayetteville State in September 1999. The Eagles set a program record in 2007 when they held Elon to minus-19 yards rushing... Sophomore Zeke Rozier made his first start of the season.
- Category: Football
- Published on Saturday, 19 September 2009 23:48