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GSU's field general

Eagles QB stops at nothing

GSU's field general

GSU's field general

    There is no I in Jaybo Shaw. No me, either.
    When Shaw made the decision to transfer from Georgia Tech to Georgia Southern new Eagle coach Jeff Monken was ecstatic.
    “You’re not going to believe this kid,” Monken said, and he wasn’t talking about Shaw’s athletic ability. “He’s just  a great kid, a really good person, very humble, an excellent leader. He will be a great fit in our program.
    “Our kids will love Jaybo.”
    Everything Monken, who spent two years with Shaw at Tech, said, has come to pass. He obviously knew his man.
    Shaw is not the most athletically gifted player on the field, nor is he the fastest or quickest.
    However, if anyone had doubts about what Shaw means to the Eagles they were surely erased last Saturday when he engineered a 21-14 overtime upset win of No. 1 Appalachian State (8-1, 6-1) which is trying to win its sixth straight Southern Conference title.
            The victory, coming on the heels of a deeply disappointing 20-14 loss to a so-so Samford team, means the Eagles (5-4, 3-3) can clinch a winning season when they play at 3 p.m. on Saturday at Western Carolina (2-7, 1-5).
    Georgia Southern coaches and players remain hopeful that with two additional at-large berths in the FCS playoffs this year one of them could come their way.
    In each of the last four years a four-loss team has received an at-large bid.
    Shaw, who last year participated in a BCS bowl game when Georgia Tech played in the Orange Bowl, is only thinking about the Catamounts.
    "We let ourselves down against Samford,” Shaw said. “We’ve got to be able to take advantage of these last two games we have to play.
    “Crazier things have happened,” Shaw said of a playoff possibility. “We just have to take care of ourselves, and let the rest take care of itself.”
     There’s no question in anyone’s mind Shaw is Georgia Southern’s most valuable player hands down.
     Monken doesn’t even want to contemplate how the Eagles may have fared without the Flowery Branch junior.
    The Eagles would have beaten Savannah State without Shaw, and they did beat The Citadel without him. In that game Shaw left on the second play of the game with a hip injury which continues to plague him.     
    Then against Samford he was held out until four minutes to go in the third quarter when it was obvious the Eagles could not win without him. They still managed to lose, but the offense ran smoother with him in the game.
     Shaw’s statisics are not overwhelming. He has 1,036 yards total offense this season, 227 yards rushing with eight touchdowns while completing 47 of 95 passes for 809 yards and four touchdowns with two interceptions.
     His 86 yards rushing and 106 passing against the Mountaineers were not good enough to get him nominated for SoCon Player of the Week, but there was no one more valuable to their team last Saturday than Shaw was to the Eagles.
    Georgia Southern scored with five seconds left in the first half to cut a 14-0 deficit in half. On the 56 yard drive three times Shaw converted on third down.
    On a third-and-one Shaw gained three, on a third-and-11 he completed a 21-yard pass to Darrieon Robinson, and on a third-and-10 he ran for 11. He got the touchdown on a one-yard run after missing the previous play due to a blow to his tender hip.
     “I was in pain,” Shaw said. “My job is to be a leader. I can’t show the pain. I have  to play through it.
    “To be a leader,” Shaw explained, “is to have the guys on offense and defense trust you and know that you are going to do what is necessary to win. If you have to play in pain then you do it.”
    On the marathon nine minute, 27 second scoring drive to start the second half Shaw converted a third-and two with a five yard run, and on fourth-and-one he ran for five yards.
     For the game, the Eagles converted 10 of 20 third down opportunities and were two-for-two on fourth down attempts.
    He saved his best for last, however, when he scrambled for 16 yards on a third-and-five to set up Robert Brown’s game winning four-yard touchdown run.
    “I compare my season to how the team does,” Shaw said. “As long as we win games I don’t care how many yards I get."
    Shaw said he got his biggest reward following the game when he got to see his father and his sister.
    “I got a big hug,” Shaw said, breaking into a big smile. “That was very special.”
    Shaw’s father, Lee, is the head coach of the 9-1 Flowery Branch Falcons. His mother was at the South Carolina-Arkansas game. His brother, Connor, is a freshman backup quarterback for the Gamecocks.

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