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Eagles sitting at top of SoCon
GSU first home team to win in series since 2005
101312 GSU FOOTBALL 01
Georgia Southern fullback Dominique Swope, top center, powers his way between Wofford defenders near the goal line in the fourth quarter Saturday at Paulson Stadium. Two plays later Swope scored to put the Eagles up 17-9.

It was low scoring, hard-hitting, maybe a little bit boring, one team didn’t attempt a single pass and the clock practically never stopped running.

In other words, it was vintage, triple-option football at its finest.

Georgia Southern held the No. 1 rushing offense in the country to 221 yards on the ground, 228 below its season average of 449, and the No. 7 Eagles handed the No. 5 Wofford Terriers their first loss of the season, winning 17-9 on Saturday at Paulson Stadium.

Fullback Dominique Swope was the workhorse for the Eagles (5-1, 4-1 Southern Conference), carrying the ball 25 times for 137 yards and both of the game’s touchdowns.

Despite a season low in rushing by the Eagles — 265 yards on 52 carries — GSU out-ran Wofford (5-1, 3-1), holding the Terriers to 4.1 yards per rush. Wofford averaged 7.7 coming in.

The Eagles had committed 11 turnovers through the first five games, and Swope fumbled on the second play of the game, giving the Terriers the ball on the GSU 28-yard line.

The Terriers longest play on the ensuing drive went for only four yards, but Wofford was able to come away with three points – eventually.

"We stopped them three times," said GSU coach Jeff Monken about Wofford’s first drive. "They kicked a field goal, and we were offsides. They threw a pass and we intercepted it, but they threw a flag — automatic first down. We go to it again, and they kick a field goal. They just ended up with three points. Our guys didn’t mope. They didn’t say, ‘Oh, poor us.’ They didn’t point fingers and go blaming other things. They just lined up and played with a tremendous effort."

Breitenstein had a 65-yard run straight up the middle at the end of the first quarter, the game’s longest play, which accounted for all but 43 of Wofford’s 108 first-half yards.

The run set up a 30-yard field goal by Christian Reed, the second of his three field goals, and gave the Terriers a 6-0 advantage.

The Eagles were quick to answer, as quarterback Jerick McKinnon set up a GSU field goal with a 33-yard run.

True freshman kicker Alex Hanks, who had kicked a 62-yarder with the help of the wind in pre-game warm ups, blasted a career-long 48-yard field goal to cut the Wofford lead to 6-3.

The teams exchanged punts until late in the second quarter when Darreion Robinson broke tackles and changed directions on a 37-yard punt return that set GSU up on the Wofford 29 yard line.

Swope carried the ball on four of the next five GSU plays and punched it into the end zone to put the Eagles ahead, 10-6, going into halftime.

The game moved a lot slower than Monken would have hoped.

"I wanted to come in here and beat them 55 to nothing," he said. "That’s what I wanted. That’s certainly a lot less agonizing to go through, but we try and do the best we can on offense and defense, on each series. It’s a team game, and our defense held in there and kept them out of the end zone, and that was huge. The offense did a great job getting the ball in the end zone before the half — that was a great momentum boost — and I thought we played a lot better in the second half."

After a scoreless third quarter, the Eagles got the separation they needed.

Wofford got another heavy dose of Swope, but McKinnon left the game after staying down on the turf after apparently injuring his leg. The trotted off the field several minutes later, looking no worse for the wear, and quarterback Ezayi Youyoute finished the drive. Youyoute handed the ball to Swope four-straight times for 22 yards and a two-yard scoring run.

Wofford got the ball all the way to the GSU 6-yard line on its next drive, but the Eagles’ defense held strong again, forcing the Terriers to settle for their third field goal.

They didn’t attempt an onside kick, electing to kick off to GSU, and McKinnon and Swope combined for three first downs on the game’s final drive, including one on 4th-and-1, to end the game.

"(The offense) wanted to go for it, the coaches wanted to go for it, I flipped over to the defense and said, ‘I’m thinking about going for it here.’ They said, ‘Coach, we’ll stop them. Go for it.’ In other words (they were saying), ‘If you don’t make it, we’ll stop them.’ And thought our guys would."

The defense saw three players reach double digits in tackles, including running-back-turned-safety J.J. Wilcox, who wasn’t happy with his performance the previous week in a 45-13 win over Western Carolina.

"Coming out of the Western Carolina game, I let my teammates down a little bit. There were some plays I should have made, and I wasn’t there," said Wilcox, who recorded 10 hard-hitting tackles to reach double digits against Wofford, along with John Stevenson (11) and Blake Riley (11). "They helped me out, and I made sure this week, I wasn’t going to let them down again."

The Eagles begin a two-week road trip Saturday in Greenville, S.C., at Furman.




: Georgia Southern wore alternate jerseys for the first time in the program’s history, sporting blue digital camouflage and various colors and patches from the branches of the United States military on Military Appreciation Day. As a part of the pregame festivities, the United States Army Golden Knights parachuted into the stadium, along with the game ball. … The game was the 200th played in Paulson Stadium. The Eagles are 139-61 all time at home. They extended their home winning streak to 14, the second longest in the Football Championship Subdivision. … Wofford snapped a three-game winning streak in Paulson Stadium. GSU’s win marked the first time since 2005 the home team won a game in the series. … With a half sack against Wofford, GSU defensive lineman Brent Russell improved his career total to 23.5, a half sack short of tying the GSU record. … Georgia Southern won without completing a pass for the second time this season and eighth time in program history. … Announced attendance was 20,983.


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