Nothing has come easy for the Georgia Southern football team this season.
Just over two weeks ago, the team sat at 1-3 and trailed with less than three minutes to go against South Alabama. But the Eagles rallied for a double-overtime win in Mobile. On Saturday, the Eagles put in extra time once again, outlasting Coastal Carolina in three overtimes.
There is still plenty of tension surrounding the Eagles in terms of what they can make of this season, but the current 3-3 mark is where the team stands as it embarks on the second half of its regular season schedule.
“It was good to get a win,” GS coach Chad Lunsford said. “We’d have loved to get it in regulation, but sometimes you have to play a little extra football. That can be fun - especially when you win.”
Georgia Southern walked a thin line between success and disaster once again. After rallying to force overtime against South Alabama, it was a GS penalty that extended the Coastal Carolina drive that notched the tying points in regulation on Saturday.
After allowing a touchdown on the first series of the first overtime, Georgia Southern needed a 4th-and-5 conversion that went for a touchdown to force the second overtime. The teams traded touchdowns again in the second overtime and - after Coastal kicked a field goal in the third overtime, the Eagles found the end zone for a third time as Wesley Kennedy III powered in for the game-winning touchdown.
Senior receiver Mark Michaud entered Saturday’s game with just three receptions on the season and just 12 catches in his Georgia Southern career. But when everything was on the line in overtime, it was Michaud who came up huge with touchdown catches in both the first and second overtimes to pave the way for the Eagles’ eventual win.
“I kind of thought the first one might be coming to me,” Michaud said of his scoring catch on 4th-and-5 in the first overtime. “On the second one, I just ran my route and was a little surprised when it was coming to me again.”
Lunsford praised offensive coordinator Bob DeBesse and quarterback Shai Werts for the aggressive overtime calls that paid off.
“We had a lot of confidence that Shai could make a throw,” Lunsford said. “We knew we would have man coverage on that first one, and Michaud is a big body who can get in position to get the ball. And I like that (DeBesse) went right back to it in the second overtime.”
After the win had sunk in, a second wave hit Georgia Southern via social media.
In between the third and fourth quarters, all players for Georgia Southern and Coastal Carolina were issued unsportsmanlike conduct penalties when both benches were jumping and dancing to the music being blasted through the speakers at Paulson Stadium.
Previously assessed unsportsmanlike penalties meant that the penalized impromptu rave resulted in the ejections of one Eagle and two Chanticleers. The overwhelming verdict from the public seeing video of the incident on Twitter, Facebook and even on SportsCenter has been that the teams did nothing wrong while the officials were far too quick to throw flags. Still, Lunsford wants to make sure that his players are doing everything in accordance with the rules.
“We aren’t going to stop telling our guys to have fun and to get into the game,” Lunsford said. “I’ll take the blame (for the penalties). I didn’t realize how far out on the field I was and the guys came out to me. But we’re going to keep having fun. We work to hard to not enjoy a big moment.”