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GSU makes short work of Cats
Eagles rack up over 600 rushing yards in easy win
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Darrieon Robinson breaks away from Western Carolina defenders for a 48-yard touchdown run Saturday against Western Carolina in Cullowhee, N.C. The Eagles won, 45-13. - photo by PAUL BARKLEY/Special to the Herald


CULLOWHEE, N.C. — Georgia Southern didn’t need to do anything too tricky.

The Eagles pounded the ball 79 times on the ground for a season-high 614 yards and ran away with a 45-13 win Saturday over Western Carolina at E.J Whitmire Stadium.

The eighth-ranked Eagles (4-1, 3-1 Southern Conference) had three rushers eclipse the 100-yard mark and 10 different ball carriers in the win.

It was 24-6 at the half, and the Catamounts (1-5, 0-4) never got within 25 points after GSU starting quarterback Jerick McKinnon threw a 30-yard touchdown pass to Tray Butler in the third quarter to put the Eagles ahead 31-6.

Georgia Southern held the ball for 21 minutes, 14 seconds of the first half, and predominantly ran a no-huddle, shotgun look in the first two quarters.

"We can keep a slow pace without huddling and running in and out," said GSU coach Jeff Monken. "If we get into a formation, we can just see how they’re lining up. That helps. It helps us call plays, it helps our offensive guys get the calls made – a lot of people do it."

The Eagles had 14 points and 157 rushing yards on 17 plays in the first quarter before the Catamounts even recorded a first down, and they did it running mostly zone reads and speed option out of the gun and keeping it simple.

"There were like four or five plays we stuck with," said McKinnon. "Read the right person, and based on that, make a decision with the football."

The Eagles rushed for 308 yards on 41 carries through two quarters and got first-half rushing touchdowns from Darreion Robinson (11 carries, 124 yards), Dominique Swope (20-117) and McKinnon (14-90).

The Eagles have started a different offensive line for the fifth time in five games.

"So many guys know what we’re supposed to do at each and every position," said sophomore offensive lineman Raymond Klugey, who got his first start as an Eagle. "It’s all about who’s playing very well this week, who’s playing very well next week. Whoever that is will start. We know that everybody has a chance."

The only two passing attempts of the first half by McKinnon were a 20-yard touchdown pass to Kentrellis Showers and a would-be touchdown thrown over the head of wide-open Tyler Sumner in the back of the end zone.

The Eagles only punted once in the first half.

"That time we had to punt, we had back-to-back screw-ups on the wristbands," said Monken. "We were calling the wristband plays. It’s got the plays written right on the wristband, and twice we screwed it up."

Western’s lone first-half score came on an 11-yard run by quarterback Troy Mitchell. The two-point conversion attempt, after a botched snap, failed.

GSU quarterback Ezayi Youyoute played most of the second half, which was dominated by backup fullbacks William Banks (15-101, TD) and James Dean (5-95).

"Those guys work really hard," Monken said. "Dominique can’t run every snap, so we like to have those guys go in there and come close. I don’t know that they’re quite like Dominique, but their effort was good, and I was proud of them for holding onto the football."

Western’s lone, second-half score came on a nine yard run by Shaun Warren.

The Eagles, who had committed 11 turnovers through the season’s first four games, were turnover free against WCU. Neither team forced a turnover, though GSU safety J.J. Wilcox narrowly missed an interception.

Special teams are still a concern. Alex Hanks, who made all six extra points and a 25-yard field goal, also had a 19-yard attempt blocked, and three Luke Cherry kickoffs sailed out of bounds for a penalty.

Georgia Southern faces unbeaten and fifth-ranked Wofford at Paulson Stadium Saturday at 6 p.m.


Matt Yogus may be reached at (912) 489-4908.