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Eagles leave Hose feeling blue
GSU racks up 504 yards in blowout victory
102211 GSU FOOTBALL 02 web
Georgia Southern's Jerick McKinnon (1) hurdles a Presbyterian defender while trying to stay in-bounds during a first-quarter run against Presbyterian at Paulson Stadium Saturday.

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The No. 1 Georgia Southern Eagles did not look ahead to Southern Conference rival Appalachian State. Well, at least not during the first half of their non-conference football game against Presbyterian College on Saturday.

GSU cruised to a 48-14 victory after jumping out to a 38-0 lead at halftime. The Eagles’ commanding start enabled them to begin thinking about No. 6 Appalachian State in the second half. The Eagles (7-0, 5-0) will play the Mountaineers (5-2, 3-1) at 3 p.m. Saturday in Boone, N.C.

GSU second-year head coach Jeff Monken started redshirt freshman Ezayi Youyoute at quarterback in the second half for Jaybo Shaw, who was 4-of-7 passing for 120 yards in the first half, and ran for a 1-yard touchdown.

"We’ve got a tough stretch coming up. The best teams we have on our schedule, the toughest opponents, are still coming up," Monken said. "It was good to get some of those guys some rest. We’ve got some of those guys who got banged up a little bit and are feeling a little sore, so it was good to be able to get some of those young guys (in the game), get some rest and get some experience for the depth."

A Paulson Stadium crowd of 16,392 watched as GSU produced its first shutout at halftime this season. Presbyterian, a Big South Conference member from Clinton, S.C., fell to 2-5. It was a tough return to Statesboro for Presbyterian third-year head coach Harold Nichols, a GSU assistant from 1992-95.

"We had some chances there in the first half to put some points on the board and we didn’t do it," Nichols said. "And you can’t do that against a really good football team like Georgia Southern."

Presbyterian surprised some folks when Michael Ruff ran 59 yards to GSU’s 16-yard line during the Blue Hose’s second play of the game.

"I guess some of the guys were sleeping a little bit, but that definitely woke us up," GSU nose Brent Russell said.

Four plays after Ruff’s big gain, Presbyterian kicker Aaron Mayes attempted a 25-yard field goal, but GSU’s Javon Mention blocked the kick. Terico Agnew recovered for the Eagles.

"We got a great block by Javon Mention, and that changed the momentum," Russell said.

GSU responded with a nine-play, 80-yard drive that ended with Robert Brown’s 9-yard touchdown run. Brown finished with 11 carries for 67 yards. Adrian Mora kicked the first of his six extra points to make it 7-0. Mora extended his consecutive extra-points streak to 135. The senior has never missed.

Mora kicked field goals of 36 and 37 yards to put the Eagles ahead, 41-0. He has scored 300 points during his career and is tied for fifth place with Tim Foley on GSU’s all-time scoring list. Mora passed Greg Hill, who has 294 points.

GSU scored 31 points in the second quarter, the most in a quarter by the Eagles since 2004, when they scored 38 points in an 84-3 victory over Johnson C. Smith.

Jerick McKinnon, who finished with a game-high 98 yards on nine carries, ran for touchdowns of 3 and 10 yards. Sandwiched between McKinnon’s scores was Shaw’s 1-yard touchdown run.

"It’s always a goal to have a fast start and score early, get the momentum on our side, especially at home," Shaw said. "We were able to do that. We had one fumble. I fumbled early in the first quarter, and we were able to respond and make some plays after that."

Late in the second quarter, Presbyterian punter Patrick Morgano watched the ball sail over his head and into the end zone. He tried to kick the ball out of the end zone but whiffed, and GSU’s Nico Hickey recovered it in the end zone for a touchdown.

Presbyterian cut the score to 41-7 late in the third quarter when Ryan Singer connected with Arthur Williams for a 6-yard touchdown. The touchdown capped the Blue Hose’s 10-play, 75-yard drive.

"There in the first half, we got down in the red zone three times and weren’t able to convert," Nichols said. "In the second half, we were able to come out and sustain some drives on offense and score some, which was a positive."

GSU’s Miguel Gilmore ran for a 12-yard touchdown early in the fourth quarter to make it 48-7.

Presbyterian’s Lance Byrd ran for a 2-yard touchdown with 7:31 remaining, and Mayes kicked his second extra point to cut the score to 48-17.

Byrd had 10 carries for 48 yards. Singer finished 14-of-26 passing for 175 yards. He was intercepted by GSU’s Deion Stanley.

"Presbyterian played Wofford really tough at the beginning of the year, and they’re a good football team," Shaw said of the Blue Hose’s 35-28 season-opening loss to the Terriers. "We made some plays today that just went our way, and we were able to execute on offense. We just fed off the defense."


Noell Barnidge can be reached at (912) 489-9408.