By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
GSU soars into quarterfinals
Eagles dominate Tribe in 31-15 victory
Georgia Southern Will Heal
Georgia Southern fullback Robert Brown takes on William and Mary's Dante Cook (35) during the second quarter of the Eagles' 31-15 playoff victory Saturday in Williamsburg, Va. - photo by Associated Press


WILLIAMSBURG, Va. — Everybody knew what was coming, they just couldn’t stop it.

Georgia Southern combined for 59 carries and 423 yards on the ground and ran away from No. 2 seed William and Mary in the second half as the Eagles advanced to the quarterfinals of the Football Championship Playoffs with a 31-15 win Saturday afternoon at Zable Stadium.

Trailing 15-14 at the break, the Eagles (9-4) had only three possessions in the second half. Each one ended in a score.

"We harp on it every week to not turn over the football," said GSU quarterback Jaybo Shaw, who rushed for 87 yards and three touchdowns. "We felt like we could run against these guys, and we really executed our game plan. It was overall one of our best games, I think."

The first play of the second half saw Darreion Robinson take an option pitch 44 yards, and a 19-yard pass from Shaw to J.J. Wilcox set up an 18-yard touchdown run by Shaw.

William and Mary (9-4) went three-and-out on its first second-half drive, and the Eagles held the ball for 7 minutes, 36 seconds on the next drive, which resulted in a 21-yard Adrian Mora field goal and a 24-15 GSU lead.

The Tribe ran only 10 plays in the third quarter — two of which were punts.

They also committed eight penalties for 80 yards, and two holding penalties negated potential big drives in the third.

Tribe quarterback Mike Callahan found receiver Ryan Moody on a 44-yard pass to the GSU 8-yard line, but holding took it back and the drive stalled.

The Eagles capitalized with a 10-play, 69 yard drive that ended with Shaw’s third touchdown run and the final margin.

William and Mary’s comeback effort began with 11:16 to go in the fourth quarter. The Tribe mounted a 15-play, 52-yard drive all the way to the GSU 20. The chance came to an end when defensive tackle Brent Russell sacked Callahan for an 11-yard loss on 4th-and-5.

"[Defensive tackle] Roderick Tinsley told me what he was going to do," said Russell, "and he was like, ‘What are you going to do?’ I was like, ‘Well I’m going to bull the guy.’ It ended up working out. We compressed the pocket around him and he didn’t have anywhere to go."

The Eagles recorded four sacks, including two by defensive end Terico Agnew.

"A couple of times [Callahan] was scrambling around to find somebody open, but nobody was open," said Russell. "It gave us a lot of time to get to him."

The defense held William and Mary to 214 total yards and no offensive touchdowns.

The Tribe found the end zone in the second quarter when Shaw threw an interception to Evan Francks, who returned it 48 yards to cut the GSU lead to 14-12. The two-point conversion failed when Moody couldn’t hold on to Callahan’s pass.

"It was very hard. I never saw him, and it was a pick-six, so it definitely hurt us," Shaw said. "I think we just went into halftime and rallied around each other. The defense, I can’t say enough about them."

It was three first-half field goals by Drake Kuhn that gave the Tribe its halftime lead, but the GSU defense held William and Mary 174 yards below its season average.

"It’s not two different football teams out there," said GSU coach Jeff Monken. "It’s one football team. When the defense is playing as well as they did, the offense, they’ve got to add something to the party, too."

The offense scored on its first possession of each quarter.

Robert Brown (24-178) led GSU in rushing and scored his sixth-career touchdown from six yards out on the game’s first drive. Brown carried the ball on each of the drive’s four plays, including the first offensive play of the day – a 45-yard run off an option pitch.

Next weekend in the quarterfinals, Georgia Southern will face Wofford, which advanced by virtue of a 17-14 win over Jacksonville State Saturday. According to GSU Athletics, the game will be at Spartanburg, S.C. either next Friday or Saturday.

The game’s date and time will be determined today.


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


Sign up for the Herald's free e-newsletter