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Swope, Scott get SoCon honors
Georgia Southern Alab Heal
Alabama running back Trent Richardson (3) is stopped by Georgia Southern's Josh Rowe (10) Saturday in Tuscaloosa. - photo by Associated Press



Georgia Southern football players Laron Scott and Dominique Swope on Monday were honored by the Southern Conference for their performances during the Eagles’ 45-21 loss to Alabama on Saturday.

Scott was named SoCon Special Teams Player of the Week. The 5-foot-9, 179-pound senior from Warner Robins returned six kickoffs for a career-high 183 yards, including a 95-yard touchdown that cut Alabama’s lead to 10 points, 31-21, with 7:03 left in the third quarter.

Scott’s kickoff return was the third-longest in GSU’s 30-year history. He returned a kickoff 99 yards against Samford this season. The GSU record is 100 yards, set by Corey Joyner in 1997 against East Tennessee State.

"Mitch Williford did a good job of hitting a guy on the inside," Scott said. "A seam just happened to open up and I took. It was good blocking all the way.

"I didn’t know how to celebrate. I was just kind of taking it all in while I was running. The team did a good job of celebrating for me, jumping on me down there. I was afraid I was going to cramp up. It was an amazing feeling."

As a Bryant-Denny Stadium crowd of 101,821 watched in disbelief, GSU’s Johnathan Bryant, who was blocking during the play, said he wondered where Scott had gone.

"I thought it was coming to my side, so I was looking for him," Bryant said. "The guy that I was blocking, he wasn’t even moving, so I said, ‘Where is Laron?’ Then I heard the crowd cheering. I looked to my right and saw Laron running down the field and I just started celebrating all the way down there at the (GSU) 20. It was exciting. I’m glad Laron made that play."

Swope was named SoCon Freshman of the Week for a second consecutive week after running for a career-high 153 yards, including an 82-yard touchdown on the first play of GSU’s ensuing drive to cut the score to 17-7 in the second quarter.

Swope, a fullback in the Eagles’ triple-option attack, carried the ball 18 times, averaging 8.5 yards per carry. The 6-foot, 209-pound Buford native’s touchdown run was the longest allowed by Alabama this season.

"I think it’s a great achievement," said Swope, who gained 121 yards on nine carries in the first half, becoming the first rusher to eclipse the 100-yard mark against Alabama this season. "I was out there running hard. I think the offensive line had a great part to do with it. Their blocks were outstanding."

Bryant made a key block during Swope’s run to clear a path to the end zone.

"When I saw Dominique just bring it, I wanted to go down there and just catch (up with) him," Bryant said. "I saw the safety chasing him. I tried to hit (the safety). "

GSU ran for 302 yards, the most the Crimson Tide have given up since 2004. The Eagles averaged 7.7 yards per carry against Alabama, which had allowed 1.8 yards per carry coming into the game.


Eagles surprise Tide

GSU capped a nine-play, 80-yard drive with senior quarterback Jabyo Shaw’s 39-yard touchdown pass to Bryant, which cut the Crimson Tide’s lead to 10 points, 24-14, with 56 seconds left before halftime.

It was Shaw’s first passing attempt of the drive and his second of the game. He finished 1-of-5 passing without an interception.

"We were having a good drive going," Shaw said. "We knew we were probably going to be able to get them on play-action one time in the game, and J.B. ran a great route.

"Our coaches do a great job. They put us in position to make that play. The safety was just supporting really hard on the toss. We faked it and J.B. ran a great route."

After the game, when a member of the Alabama media asked Crimson Tide head coach Nick Saban to explain what happened during the touchdown pass, Saban said, "Do you want me to explain it all to you, about this (triple-option) offense and how you got to squirm the coverages and all that kind off stuff?

"The guy arches to block the corner, so on the motion, you squirm to the corner on both sides. Then, on the diagonal takeoff, the guy that is coming out there blocking you every time as a corner, you have to figure out that he is not blocking me this time and he is running a diagonal takeoff. (Cornerback) Dre (Kirkpatrick) came, he ran a diagonal takeoff and went right by him (GSU’s Bryant). (Free safety) Mark (Barron) is supposed to be rolling over in a deep third and he fell down.

"So, that is what happened. And I hope we don’t see that play again."


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