Georgia Southern Defeats South Carolina State in First-Round Playoff Win
STATESBORO, Ga. - Sophomore slotback J.J. Wilcox (Cairo, Ga.) scored two touchdowns, one in the first quarter and one in the fourth as Georgia Southern ran to a 41-16 victory over 12th-ranked South Carolina State in the first round of the NCAA Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) Playoffs. The Eagles had three defensive scores, returning a fumble for a touchdown and recording two safeties on kickoffs while holding the Bulldogs to only 223 yards of offense.
With the victory, the Eagles added another win to its playoff total, now 39, the best among all FCS institutions. The win also gave Georgia Southern 30 playoff wins in Paulson Stadium with a home playoff winning percentage of 90.9. The Eagles will play their next 2010 playoff game at second-seeded William & Mary as The Tribe earned a first-round bye, with a 1:30 p.m. kickoff time at Zable Stadium.
GSU amassed 323 yards on the ground and held South Carolina State to only 66 rushing yards for the game. Freshman quarterback Jerick McKinnon (Marietta, Ga.) took over the signal calling from Shaw, who left the game with an injury during the GSU's second drive of the first quarter. McKinnon directed the Eagles to their third-highest rushing yards total of the season with 344.
Freshman Robert Brown (Macon, Ga.) led all rushers with 77 yards rushing with Lee Banks (Augusta, Ga.) adding 56 and Wilcox 50 as 12 Eagles carried the ball. Defensively, sophomore linebacker Josh Rowe (Opelika, Ala.) had five tackles to lead Georgia Southern. Sophomore nose tackle Brent Russell (Comer, Ga.) had four total tackles while Rowe and Russell each had one of the Eagles' six tackles for loss.
Georgia Southern struck first, converting on third downs twice and relying exclusively on the run for its first score. Eleven plays and 80 yards later Wilcox crossed the goal line after receiving the pitch from junior quarterback Jaybo Shaw (Flowery Branch, Ga.) with Adrian Mora (Dalton, Ga.) providing the point after, Eagles 7-0. On the kickoff, the Bulldogs fumbled the return and junior safety Michael Butler (Stone Mountain, Ga.) made the tackle in the end zone for the safety to put the Eagles up 9-0.
With 2:34 left in the first quarter, Russell forced the ball loose from the hands of Bulldog quarterback Malcolm Long. Freshman defensive lineman Josh Gebhardt (Douglasville, Ga.) picked up the ball and returned it 34 yards for an Eagle touchdown. Mora added the point after and Georgia Southern led 16-0.
Freshman Tray Butler (Stockbridge, Ga.) picked up 19 yards on the first play of the Eagles next drive and Robert Brown (Macon, Ga.) added 21 yards on his next two carries to put the Eagles at the South Carolina State 19 early in the second quarter. Georgia Southern could not pick up a first down and sent Mora out for a successful 32-yard field goal, Georgia Southern 19-0. The Bulldogs' Lennel Elmore returned the kickoff 90 yards to put South Carolina State on the board 19-7 after the Blake Erickson PAT.
The Bulldogs held Georgia Southern to three-and-out on its next series and started their drive at their own 22. A Devin Wherry 54-yard sprint brought South Carolina State to the Eagles 21. A Georgia Southern face mask penalty saved the Bulldogs from its third-and-11 and provided a new set of downs at the GSU 11. After Elmore picked up nine yards to the GSU 4, Long's pass attempt in the end zone fell incomplete. Erickson hit the 21-yard field goal to add three points for the 19-10 score.
Finding little success on its next possession, and losing a yard on the final play of the series, a fake punt provided the Eagles with a first down. Sophomore Josh Rowe (Opelika, Ala.) ran for 33 yards to the SCSU 36. Georgia Southern couldn't capitalize on the big play and would turn the ball over on downs for the Eagles' final drive of the half.
Starting the third quarter with the ball, the Eagles stalled at fourth-and-eight on their first possession and lined up for the field goal. Instead, punter Charlie Edwards (Tifton, Ga.) threw a 14-yard pass to long snapper Carter Jones (Moultrie, Ga.) to pick up the first down at the SCSU 18. McKinnon brought GSU to first-and-goal at the Bulldog 6 and Robert Brown took two attempts to get to the two-yard line. A delay of game penalty on Georgia Southern pushed the ball back to the Bulldog 7 and the Eagles opted to go for the Mora 23-yard field goal. The Eagles led 22-10.
Both teams treated the ball like a hot potato in the third quarter, with neither interested in keeping possession for any length of time. With 4:22 left, Georgia Southern would put Mora in position for another field goal, a 45-yard attempt, as time expired. Mora tied his career-best with three field goals in a game and his 45-yard field goal was his long for 2010, giving the Eagles a 15-point cushion at 25-10.
For the second time in the game, and probably for the only time ever in the history of the program, Georgia Southern recorded its second safety on a kickoff return. Senior Calvin West (Mableton, Ga.) forced the fumble and the Bulldogs recovered in their own endzone for a 27-10 Georgia Southern lead. The Eagles, with the ball again after the kickoff, used 11 plays with a mix of McKinnon, Banks and Wilcox runs to go 61 plays downfield. GSU took 5:33 off the clock while adding another touchdown and PAT to the scoreboard, 34-10 Georgia Southern.
After connecting with Elmore for a short pass, Long hit Eagle Gebhardt on his next attempt. Gebhardt returned the interception four yards to the SCSU 19, putting the Eagle offense back on the field. Georgia Southern took five plays and 2:22 as junior quarterback Russell DeMasi kept the football for a one-yard touchdown run. Mora added the point after to extend his career consecutive PAT streak to 88 and put the Eagles up 41-10.
South Carolina State responded with a two-play drive, the second play of the series a 58-yard post pass to Elmore for the Bulldog touchdown. Erickson's point after attempt failed leaving SCSU with only six points, Georgia Southern 41-16.
- Category: Football
- Published on Saturday, 27 November 2010 23:15