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Eagles hang on for win over CCU

Late defensive score keys 43-26 Eagle win

Eagles hang on for win over CCU

Eagles hang on for win over CCU

Georgia Southern safety Derek Heyden ...


 

CONWAY, S.C. — Coastal Carolina had a lot of emotion left over from last weekend’s five-overtime loss to Towson, a senior quarterback who passed for a ton of yards and a defense set on shutting down the run.

But Georgia Southern had all the luck.

In a game that saw a pair of fluke interceptions, a blocked punt and a two-man return on a blocked extra-point conversion, The Eagles got all the right bounces and held on for a 43-26 win at CCU Saturday night.

"Truthfully, coach always says that if you’re around the ball, good things happen," said sophomore nose tackle Brent Russell. "We practice running to the ball every snap, because you really never know what’s going to happen."

GSU (2-1) enjoyed a 19-6 halftime lead, and after going ahead 29-12 on a 15-yard pass from quarterback Jaybo Shaw to slotback J.J. Wilcox with 4:13 to go in the third, seemed to be on cruise control.

But the Chanticleers (0-3) weren’t done yet.

Coastal quarterback Zach MacDowall (26 of 40, 302 yards, 3 touchdowns) found tight end David Duran on a 12-yard scoring strike to cut it to 29-19.

The Chants held GSU to three-and-out on the following drive, in which the Eagles were without fullback Robert Brown (17-66, TD), who left in the third with injury and did not return.

An interception by safety Derek Heyden put the ball back in GSU’s hands, but turned it over on a Tobi Akinniranye fumble. The backup fullback had previously carried the ball three times for 44 yards to get all the way down to the CCU 5-yard line.

"Tobi was carrying us on his back that whole drive," said Shaw. "I’m not sure what happened, I was carrying my fake out and I guess it got knocked out late. We’re all going to learn from that."

Coastal capitalized, putting together a seven-play, 95-yard drive that ended when MacDowall hit Marquel Willis for a 34-yard touchdown that cut the score to 29-26.

Again, GSU went three-and-out but this time, Coastal fumbled on its five-yard line, and it was recovered by sophomore Kyle Oehlbeck, who punched it in for a 36-26 GSU lead.

After a lot of first-quarter action between the 20s, Georgia Southern broke the early scoreless tie on the first play of the second quarter when Adrian Mora kicked a 41-yard field goal.

The ensuing Coastal drive came to an end on the CCU 25-yard line, and a blocked punt gave the Eagles the ball on the 5.

Four-straight running plays, capped off by a give to Brown up the middle on 4th-and-goal for a one-yard score and a 10-0 GSU lead.

The next Chants drive resulted in their first score, but also gave the Eagles some help on the scoreboard.

Coastal running back Eric O’Neil punched in a on a four-yard run that pushed the pile for six points. The score was set up in large part on a MacDowall 41-yard pass to a wide open Trae Long.

The extra point went in GSU’s favor though, when Carson Hill blocked the attempt and Brent Russell scooped it up and took off for the Eagles’ end zone. Russell ran out of steam at the 40-yard line, but his lateral hit Heyden who took it to the house for a two-point conversion and a 19-6 Georgia Southern lead.

"I wasn’t even supposed to be the scoop guy," Russell said. "I blocked it, and I was looking around to block somebody. It basically fell right in front of me, so I just scooped it and started running and looking for somebody. Carson [Hill] came upon me, but he blocked somebody and I was like, ‘He’s going to make me run all the way down there.’"

"I saw a guy getting ready to tackle him and I saw him getting ready to toss it back, so I was ready for it," added Heyden. "I wasn’t calling for it or anything. It was just a good, heads-up play by Brent."

On the first drive of the second half, the Eagles went ahead 22-6 on a 36-yarder by Mora.

 

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

 

 

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