In their first four games of the year the Georgia Southern football team had their issues in the second half of games. Saturday at Troy the Eagles played a solid second half but failed to show up for most of the first half and ended up falling to the Trojans 27-24.
The Eagles dug themselves a 17-3 hole at halftime, and an early third quarter Troy touchdown extended that lead to 24-3. The good news was the Eagles showed a lot of fight in battling back to tie the game 24-24 on touchdowns by Logan Wright and Khaleb Hood and a pair of Alex Raynor field goals. A pair of late game interceptions did them in through and a Brooks Buce 24-yard field goal with 2:23 remaining proved to be the difference in the game.
“I felt like we played two quarters of a game against Troy,” said eagle interim head coach Kevin Whitley. “Troy has a really good defense especially against the run and we knew we had to try and control the game rushing and passing. Around the third quarter we started getting things going on offense and defense. We did some good things, but we weren’t playing horseshoes so close doesn’t count.
The Eagles were held to under 100 yards rushing for only the sixth time since joining the FBS in 2014. Junior quarterback Justin Tomlin was 15-22 for 210 yards through the air but had three interceptions including one with 4:17 to play that led to the game winning field goal, and another with :33 second left in the game.
“They kind of stoned us in running the ball,” said Whitley. We knew they were one of the top teams in the nation against the rush, but I thought we did a good job throwing the ball in the second half. We got a real big spark on the long pass from Justin to Derwin Burgess and really played well from there. The three interceptions were not good and we do have to work on that but with six minutes left in the game we had it tied at 24-24 and a pass interference call on second and 19 really hurt is. I thought if not for that call we really could have pulled this one out.”
One bright spot was they Eagles outscored the Trojans 21-10 in the second half, which is something coach Whitely hopes will carry over into this week’s Thursday night matchup at South Alabama.
“I think the guys have responded well to my message a few weeks ago about winning the third quarter and coming out strong in the second half,” said Whitley. “Now we have to learn how to sustain that for a whole game. With six minutes left in the game we gave ourselves a chance to win against a very good team they were 0-2 on fourth down and 1-11 on third down so we are doing some good things, we just have to put together a complete game.”
Monday Whitley also announced that senior defensive lineman Gavin Adcock has been released from the team. Adcock was suspended after a video was released after the Louisiana game that showed him drinking a beer on top of the Eagle buses on the way to the game. Adcock was reinstated for the Troy game, but another social media post led to him being removed from the team officially Monday.
“Me and Gavin met yesterday, and after a long discussion with him I decided it would be best to remove him from the team,” said Whitley. “Gavin and I and coach Victor Cabral met for about 35 minutes. We had a good conversation, and at the end of that conversation we just decided we needed to go in a different direction. I wish he and his family the nest and I feel he is destined to do great things.”
“We have a standard for our players, and we expect them to love up to those standards,” said Whitley. “When they choose not to do that, we have to make some tough decisions. In terms of getting everybody on the same page, hopefully the guys are buying into the message I am sending them. I think you have to make the guys accountable to the team rules and when someone is not accountable you have to make decisions.”