Georgia Southern ended a losing skid Saturday night in the high desert of New Mexico.
But like most things in the Eagles’ recent history, it didn’t come easy.
Georgia Southern surrendered an early 6-0 lead and trailed by as much as 12-6 before claiming a 22-19 victory over New Mexico State.
The Eagles (4-3, 3-1 Sun Belt) took control in the second half, powering ahead before holding off a comeback attempt by the Aggies (2-5, 1-3) in the final minutes.
Georgia Southern managed just a pair of Younghoe Koo field goals in the first half and trailed at the break after the Aggies connected on a field goal and a 6-yard pass from Tyler Rodgers to O.J. Clark. Parker Davidson connected from 30 yards out to give NMSU a 12-6 lead before the Eagles seized control.
Two weeks after the Eagles were unable to seize a conference win despite being handed five turnovers by Arkansas State, a pair of miscues by the Aggies made all the difference.
A New Mexico fumble in its own territory allowed Koo to connect from 29 yards to pull GS within 12-9. Georgia Southern recovered an onside kick after the field goal, only to have the play negated by an offside penalty. The Eagles then kicked deep, but New Mexico State return man Gregory Hogan muffed the catch and the Eagles pounced onto a prime scoring opportunity.
As the third quarter bled into the fourth, the Eagles seized their good fortune as Kevin Ellison connected with Matt Breida for a 9-yard touchdown pass.
New Mexico State punted the ball away on its next possession and the Eagles made the most of their opportunity. Following a pair of rushes, Ellison found Wesley Fields on a screen pass and the sophomore running back did the rest, sprinting 42 yards to the end zone to extend the Eagles’ lead.
Georgia Southern wasn’t quite able to run out the clock and the Aggies drew within striking range when Tyler Rodgers hit Johnathan Boone for a 32-yard touchdown pass with 1:19 to go, but Malik Henry covered up the Aggies’ onside kick and the GS offense ran out the clock for the win.
New Mexico State outgained Georgia Southern by a 432-404 clip, but the Eagles converted two more third downs and once again dominated the time-of-possession battle.
Aside from the touchdowns by Breida and Fields, Koo led the way for Georgia Southern, connecting on field goals from 22, 25 and 29 yards.
The Eagles’ win keeps them in contention in the Sun Belt race. Georgia Southern ends a nation-long four-game road trip with a short week before hosting fellow Sun Belt front-runner Appalachian State Thursday at Paulson Stadium.