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GSU falls short in defensive struggle

GSU falls short in defensive struggle

GSU falls short in defensive struggle

Navy quarterback Ricky Dobbs (4) get...

            ANNAPOLIS, Md. – When Georgia Southern got set to kick off against Navy Saturday afternoon at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium, it was supposed to be all about the triple-option offense run by both teams.

            Instead, all of the highlights came from the defense.

            Well, all but one.

            Clinging to a six point lead, Navy quarterback Ricky Dobbs found wide receiver Greg Jones 44 yards down field on 3rd-and-18 to keep the fourth-quarter drive alive and run out the clock as the Midshipmen held off the visiting Eagles 13-7.

            “I really thought we were going to win the football game there at the end,” said GSU coach Jeff Monken, who was an assistant at Navy under Paul Johnson from 2002-07, “but they made more plays and the credit goes to them.”

            Needing the ball back one last time to try and take the lead, Georgia Southern’s defense – which held the Midshipmen (1-1) to 193 total yards – had them right where they wanted them.

            Navy fullback Vince Murray (9 carries, 50 yards) was stuffed for a two-yard gain. On second down, GSU nose tackle Brent Russell chased Dobbs out of the pocket, and defensive end Dion DuBose came from the other side of the field to record a 10-yard sack.

            “He came out of nowhere like a rocket,” Russell said about DuBose. “I swear that quarterback didn’t know what to do.”

            But Dobbs, a Heisman Trophy hopeful who had only passed for 28 yards and rushed for 48 until late in the fourth quarter, made the pass on 3rd-and-long.

            “We played about as good as we could on defense, holding them to 13 points,” Monken said. “But we’ve got to score more than 13 points if we hope to ever win another game.”

            On the previous drive, the Eagles (1-1) had momentum on their side.

            On the aid of a 4th-and-1 conversion by true freshman Darries Robinson, who made his first start as an Eagle, Georgia Southern got down to the Navy 45-yard line. The six-play drive stalled after GSU quarterback Jaybo Shaw (4-for-9, 36 yards, TD) completed a 14-yard pass to J.J. Wilcox, but it was called back for holding and illegal touching, which was declined.

            The next three plays went for negative yards, and the Eagles were forced to punt for the seventh time.

            “We’d rather be 2nd-and-5, 3rd-and-3, and we had those two penalties, but we still have to try and find a way,” Shaw said. “That could have been the game-winning drive, and we still have to find a way to convert those.”

            Trailing 13-0 on the first drive of the second half, the Eagles put together their first solid drive, set up by a 49-yard kickoff return by Laron Scott.

            They marched 49 on 10 plays to cut the Navy lead to 13-7. The drive featured five runs by true freshman fullback Robert Brown (16-45) and appeared to stall when Shaw was tackled for a three-yard loss on third down.

            The Eagles went for it.

            Show connected with Wilcox for a 17-yard touchdown pass which was the first-career TD pass and catch respectively for both players.

            The Eagles couldn’t move the ball at all in the first half, remaining at negative yards until just the second first down of the game with 8:19 to go in the half. They finished the first half with 21 plays for 23 yards.

            The Midshipmen weren’t much better in the first two quarters.

            After the teams combined for five penalties on the first offensive drive, the Eagles clamped down, holding Dobbs to no gain on 3rd-and-goal from the 1-yard line and forcing an 18-yard Navy field goal for the game’s first points.

            Two possessions later, after the teams traded punts, Shaw fumbled setting up Navy at the 25 yard line. The GSU defense once again held strong, forcing a 42-yard field goal to give the Mids a 6-0 lead.

            The Georgia Southern held strong twice more in a second half in which they were on the field for 18:35 of the first 30 minutes, forcing Navy to go three-and-out two more times, before the Midshipmen got back on the scoreboard just before the half.

            It took Dobbs eight plays and 4:44 to go 40 yards for the first Navy touchdown of the game. The drive featured a 12-yard pass from Dobbs to slotback Aaron Santiago and was finished off by a one-yard plunge by Dobbs on 3rd-and-goal.

            Navy hit the locker room with a 13-0 lead at the break, accumulating 110 yards including 98 on 27 carries.

            Georgia Southern returns to action Saturday when it travels to Conway, S.C. to take on Coastal Carolina at 6 p.m.


            Matt Yogus can be reached at (912) 489-9408.

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