CHARLESTON, S.C. — Georgia Southern trailed nearly the whole game in Saturday’s eventual 23-21 loss on the road at The Citadel, and when it came down to it and the Eagles needed a touchdown, things got wild.
With 8 minutes, 50 seconds remaining, early in the drive and lined up in the shotgun, GSU quarterback Ezayi Youyoute handed the ball off to slotback Jerick McKinnon. McKinnon then pitched to Johnathan Bryant, who got 14 yards.
The Eagles (1-1, 0-1 Southern Conference) got 15 more yards when Bryant was hit late on the play.
Later in the drive, on 4th-and-6, GSU ran the same play, only this time, when McKinnon pitched it, a Citadel defender jumped the pitch and tipped the ball into the air. McKinnon caught his own pitch, changed direction and got seven yards.
"That play was crazy," McKinnon said. "Their cornerback made a great play and got his hand on the ball. I just looked up and saw the ball, caught it, and new I needed to get a first down. The offense kept blocking after the play. It’s just one of those freaky things that happens in a game."
Third time was a charm on the next play when the Eagles ran it again, only this time, Youyoute didn’t hand the ball to McKinnon, he kept it ran three yards up the middle, fumbled, and recovered his own fumble to keep the drive going.
The drive ended with a one-yard touchdown run by Youyoute.
A passing trend
With a five-yard completion from Youyoute to Kentrellis Showers in at the end of the second quarter, Georgia Southern ended the longest period of time without a completed pass in the modern era.
The Eagles didn’t complete a pass in the season opener against Jacksonville, and went 28 minutes into Saturday’s game without a completion.
The win was a big one for The Citadel.
The win over the third-ranked Eagles marked the first time the Bulldogs defeated a Top 10 opponent since they beat No. 8 East Tennessee State in overtime in 1997.
Junior Citadel quarterback Ben Dupree threw his first career touchdown pass in the first quarter.
It was also the first touchdown thrown by The Citadel dating all the way back to the 2010 season opener against Chowan.
The Citadel turned over the ball twice and put it on the ground six times in their 2012 season opener against Charleston Southern. It didn’t cost them in the 49-14 win.
Georgia Southern put it on the ground five times and lost two Saturday, and The Citadel got a touchdown off of each first-quarter turnover.
"The turnovers hurt," said GSU coach Jeff Monken. "Their first two touchdowns came off of turnovers, but that didn’t mean they needed to score. But they did. They were up 14-0 off two turnovers."
Matt Yogus may be reached at (912) 489-9048.