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Past mistakes overcome in victory

Past mistakes overcome in victory

Past mistakes overcome in victory


There have been many theories as to what caused Georgia Southern to drop two of its last three games heading into Saturday’s tilt against The Citadel.
    At times, all of those opinions and diagnoses looked like viable reasons for the Eagles to drop another tough contest. Luckily, some of the attributes that had many predicting GSU to run the table back in the preseason showed up just in time to help the Eagles come away with a 28-21 win.
    I think it’s safe to say at this point that Georgia Southern isn’t the machine that many thought it was capable of being about two months ago.
    Injuries have forced plenty of reserves into duty and look as though they may have changed the team’s overall offensive approach for the foreseeable future. For much of the second half on Saturday, all of the negatives of the losses to Wofford and Samford were on full display.
    Then — much to the enjoyment of an excited Military Appreciation Day crowd — many of GSU’s biggest positives showed up just in time to wrestle away a win.
    Last week, the ‘big play’ was Georgia Southern’s bugaboo. Samford connected on a handful of game-breaking plays to negate the Eagles’ strong first half and storm back from 11 points down to claim a win.
    Two weeks prior, Wofford was able to keep the Eagle offense from ever finding a rhythm. In struggling to a loss, the Eagles often looked as if they were rolling the dice on formations and play calls going into each offensive series.
    On Saturday, Georgia Southern made the necessary adjustments.
    Save for one long touchdown run by Citadel quarterback Ben Dupree, the Eagles kept the Bulldogs’ positive plays to a minimum. Even more impressive, Georgia Southern’s defense was nearly perfect in third down situations, handing the ball back to the offense as often as possible.
    With confidence that the defense would hold and a consistent game plan, the Eagle offense got the job done.
    Kevin Ellison and Jerick McKinnon did most of the heavy lifting, but even the Bulldog defense’s keying on the duo couldn’t stop their athleticism and playmaking abilities from shining through. McKinnon showed his power with plenty of tough inside runs while Ellison showed off his decision making in breaking off some big runs and making a few clutch throws.
    You couldn’t blame the Paulson Stadium crowd for its crestfallen atmosphere after Citadel’s fumble return to turn a six-point deficit into a one-point lead midway through the fourth quarter. After all, Georgia Southern’s losses this season have stemmed from just a few costly mistakes that have wrestled momentum away from the Eagles.
    But the Eagles weren’t about to go down that path again.
    Showing the poise that had been lacking in previous comeback attempts, GSU stopped looking like a team throwing everything at the wall — just hoping something would stick — and instead showed the resolve of a squad that understood the dire straits it was in, but knew it would prevail anyway.
    Saturday’s win wasn’t a pretty one. There were plenty of missed opportunities and plenty of shortcomings for GSU where it easily could have slipped to 1-3 in Southern Conference play. But looking at the little negatives within the contest is trivial when fans can instead look at the overwhelming positive of a Georgia Southern team — banged up and flawed though it may be — overcoming missed chances and a potentially devastating turnover to come through with a win.
    The Eagles might be able to cut down on some mistakes moving forward, but the fact remains that the rest of the schedule is filled with plenty of teams who will be trying to take full advantage of getting their last crack at that team from Statesboro that has beaten them so many times before.
Nothing is going to come easy this season for the Eagles. It’s a good thing that they seem to have realized that and proved that they can get wins the hard way.

    Mike Anthony may be reached at (912) 489-9404.

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