The defense has kept opponents out of the end zone for 10 straight quarters
Mobile, AL – The Georgia Southern defense held its opponent out of the end zone for the second consecutive week, and Favian Upshaw accounted for 235 total yards of offense as the Eagles opened Sun Belt play with a 24-9 win over South Alabama Saturday night at Ladd-Peebles Stadium.
An interception in the end zone by redshirt freshmanJessie Liptrot with less than a minute to go sealed the win and preserved an impressive streak that began in the same stadium in the GoDaddy Bowl last December. The Eagles (2-0, 1-0 Sun Belt) have kept their opponents out of the end zone for 10 consecutive quarters and over 150 minutes, dating back to the first half of the bowl win over Bowling Green.
Ukeme Eligwe and Ironhead Gallon led the way tonight with seven tackles apiece, and Eligwe also had a tackle for loss. Georgia Southern held the Jaguars (1-1, 0-1 Sun Belt) to 73 yards on the ground and combined for seven tackles for loss and a sack. The Eagle pressure forced South Alabama to convert on just five of their 19 third and fourth-down chances.
On the other side of the ball, Upshaw and the Georgia Southern offense also picked up right where they left off in the GoDaddy Bowl, as the Eagles accounted for 441 total yards of offense – 304 on the ground and 137 through the air – and three rushing touchdowns. Upshaw rushed for 108 and threw for 127 off a 6-for-9 performance, and Kevin Ellison ran for 86 yards and a score.BJ Johnson III caught three passes for 63 yards, while Wesley Fields and L.A. Ramsby ran for TDs.
Trailing 24-9, South Alabama moved the ball down the Eagle 6-yard line, but Liptrot thwarted any hopes of a last-gasp comeback by leaping high in the air to pull down a Dallas Davis pass. He seemed to think about running it out but decided discretion would be the better part of valor in this scenario and went down for the touchback.
After holding a 10-6 lead at halftime, Georgia Southern opened the second half with a nine-play, 73-yard drive, capped by a Fields 5-yard touchdown dive to put the Eagles up 17-6. The Eagles held the Jags scoreless in the third quarter, and Ellison added to the lead with a 27 yard TD run 49 seconds into the fourth.
The Georgia Southern defense forced South Alabama to turn the ball over on downs three times inside the Eagle 40-yard line in the second half and held the Jags to field goals three times after moving the ball inside the GS 25-yard line in the game.
Head Coach Tyson Summers
On the defense
“What you’re seeing is a talented group of guys who have come together and are playing hard and are playing well. As long as we can continue to get a good push up front like we have been, we’ll have a chance to continue to be successful.”
“Part of us playing good defense the last two weeks is our ability to run the ball, control the clock and give our defense some rest.”
“Certainly, we have to get the penalties cleaned up, and if we do that, I feel like we have a chance to be good football team.”
Senior quarterback Kevin Ellison
On the offense
“I’m very comfortable in our offense. Coach Gillespie and the staff does a great job fitting the scheme to what we do best, and our offensive line did a great job tonight.”
On the defense
“This is the best defense I’ve seen since I’ve been at Georgia Southern.”
Sophomore safety Joshua Moon
On the defense
“I give all the credit to the D-line and the linebackers. They keep it so the quarterback doesn’t have much time to throw, and we have the opportunity to bite a little more.”
The Eagles return home next weekend for their second Sun Belt Conference game, this time against the Warhawks of UL Monroe in Paulson Stadium. The game against the Warhawks will be the Eagles’ annual Family Weekend as well as the GATA Club Reunion. The weekend will also include the induction ceremony into the Georgia Southern Athletics Hall of Fame. Kickoff is slated for 6 p.m.