September 06, 2016
Well, we got pretty much what we all expected.
Georgia Southern opened the Tyson Summers era and the 2016 season Saturday night under the lights at Paulson Stadium with a 54-0 pounding of Savannah State. The final score shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone, but the success the Eagles had through the air may be a bit of a shocker.
Quarterbacks Kevin Ellison and Favian Upshaw completed 12 of 15 passes to seven different receivers. The Eagles had 185 passing yards and two passing touchdowns. Those numbers aren’t exactly eye-popping for most teams, but if Southern can produce that kind of passing threat to complement its potent run game, this could be a fun season.
Speaking of the run game, seven Eagles carried the ball for a total of 420 yards. Each had at least six attempts and five of them found paydirt at least once. Cracking 400 yards on the ground is nothing new for Georgia Southern, but most Eagle fans probably wouldn’t have picked Demarcus Godfrey to lead the team in rushing yards. He was the only Eagle to break 100 yards as he led the way with 124 yards on 14 carries, but did not find the endzone. Wesley Fields had 87 yards and Matt Breida had 68, and each scored one touchdown.
Meanwhile, the defense was all kinds of stingy. Not only did they pitch the shutout, Savannah State only gained 114 yards of total offense. The Tigers only managed eight first downs all night and Southern nearly doubled them up in time of possession.
Tattler Game Ball: This week’s game ball goes to Favian Upshaw. He picked up right where he left off last season by going 7-for-10 passing for 115 yards and two touchdowns. He ran seven times for 53 yards and two more touchdowns.
With the opener behind us and the Eagles at 1-0 on the young season, Southern’s attention turns to the start of conference play and a trip to South Alabama. The Eagles hammered the Jaguars last year 55-17, and a few weeks ago, I included this game in a list of ones I thought Georgia Southern should win easily. Then South Alabama went and knocked off an SEC team Saturday afternoon by stunning Mississippi State 21-20.
After trailing 17-0 at halftime, the Jaguars rallied. They scored a touchdown to take the lead with less than a minute left, but State drove down and had a chance to escape with a win. But the Bulldogs’ kicker doinked the would-be game-winning field goal off the upright as time expired and USA completed the upset.
All of a sudden, this doesn’t look like an easy win for Georgia Southern anymore. While the Eagles will still likely be favored to win, South Alabama got everyone’s attention last weekend.
Tattler Prediction: Georgia Southern’s defense will turn in another impressive effort, but the offense won’t be facing Savannah State. USA only allowed 20 points at Mississippi State — points won’t be easy to come by in this one.
Eagles 28 Jaguars 13