SPARTANBURG, S.C. -- Jerick McKinnon and redshirt freshman Kevin Ellison split snaps at quarterback in Georgia Southern’s 30-20 loss on Saturday at Wofford, and it worked -- on the stat sheet, at least.
The pair combined for 23 carries for 212 yards and McKinnon scored a pair of touchdowns, but the Eagles (2-1, 0-1 Southern Conference) turned it over three times after committing none in the first two games of the season.
Head coach Jeff Monken wanted to give McKinnon, a senior, “a chance to make plays away from the Wofford (2-1, 2-0) game plan.
“We thought that would be a good way to get Jerick the football in some different ways,” Monken said. “We didn’t think they’d let him carry it as a quarterback. We figured they’d try to make him pitch it and bottle him up. Putting him at running back, we were hopeful, would give us an opportunity to put the ball in his hands.”
As the primary thrower, Ellison was 6 of 14 for 68 yards, and led the Eagles’ scoring drive in the game’s final minute.
Ellison started the game, with McKinnon in at slotback.
“Coaches tell us to be ready, as a team,” Ellison said. “Wofford’s a good team, and they were coached up well.”
Georgia Southern suffered a similar fate in 2012, losing the SoCon opener on the road to The Citadel, in a 23-21 ballgame in Charleston, S.C., before going on to win a share of the conference championship.
Like last season, the Eagles have a bye next Saturday.
“We did the same thing last year right off the bat,” Monken said. “We had two weeks after that one to have to live with it. That’s tough to live with.”
The Eagles will finish the SoCon era just 10-11 in conference openers.
McKinnon and Dominique Swope both reached career milestones in the game.
With a 24-yard run in the second quarter, McKinnon eclipsed the 3,000-yard mark for his career. He is one of only eight players in Georgia Southern history to reach that milestone.
McKinnon now has 3,092 career yards, and needs 120 more to pass Tracy Ham for the No. 7 spot on Georgia Southern’s career rushing list.
In the first quarter, Swope passes Gerald Harris (played from 1982-86 and rushed for 2,379 yards) and became 10th all-time career rusher at Georgia Southern.
NOTES: Georgia Southern fell to 12-8 all time against Wofford, and 8-3 all time in Spartanburg. The Eagles fell to 10-11 all time in Southern Conference openers. … GSU slotback Torrence Hunt, a transfer from East Carolina, has scored a touchdown in each game this season. … Safety Deion Stanley has intercepted a pass in each of the three games so far this season. … McKinnon reached 100 yards in a game for the 12th time Saturday. ... Announced attendance was 8,153.
Matt Yogus may be reached at (912) 489-9408.