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Eagles sneak out of Monroe with last-second victory
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Georgia Southern's Wesley Kennedy III dives across the goal line in the first quarter for the first of his two rushing touchdowns during Saturday's 35-30 Eagle victory over UL Monroe.
MONROE, La. –  J.D. King rushed for 196 yards and a touchdown, NaJee Thompson blocked two punts and Rashad Byrd made a game-saving tackle as Georgia Southern held off ULM for a 35-30 Sun Belt Conference football win over the Warhawks Saturday night in Malone Stadium.

The Eagles (2-1, 1-1) led 35-17 with 5:30 left in the third quarter, but ULM cut the margin to 35-30 and got the ball back on its own 27-yard line with 2:42 to play. Quarterback Colby Suits converted two third downs with is arm and scrambled for seven yards on 4th-and-6 to lead the Warhawks (0-4, 0-3) down to the Georgia Southern 9-yard with 12 seconds remaining. 

With ULM out of timeouts, Suits stepped up in the pocket and tried to run for the goal line, but Byrd came in and knocked the sophomore down at the 1-yard line. ULM tried to line up and spike the ball, but time expired. Officials reviewed the play to make sure Suits did not reach the end zone and ruled that the call on the field stood.

Eagles of the Game: Thompson's two blocked punts marked only the second time in program history one player blocked two punts in one game (James Williams vs. Furman, 1993). Byrd finished with five tackles, a pass break-up and recovered a blocked punt for a touchdown, while Wesley Kennedy III rushed for 64 yards and two scores.

Key Moments: Leading 21-17 at halftime, Georgia Southern drove 75 yards in nine plays on its first possession of the second frame, and Logan Wright capped it with a rumbling 17-yard run in which he dragged a few would-be tacklers into the end zone.

The Eagles blocked their second punt of the night to help extend their lead to 35-17. Thompson got his talons on the kick, and the ball rolled into the end zone, where Byrd recovered it for a touchdown with 5:30 to go in the third quarter. 

After the Eagle defense got a three-and-out, King broke off a 62-yard run on Georgia Southern's second play from scrimmage and then finished off the drive with a 3-yard touchdown run for a 7-0 lead 3:35 into the contest.

Trailing 21-10, ULM drove down to the GS 3-yard line and elected to try for a touchdown rather than a field goal attempt with three seconds left in the first half. Suits connected with Malik Jackson as the final horn sounded, and ULM trimmed the margin to 21-17 at halftime.

Stats: Georgia Southern scored on its opening drive for the first time in 29 games. Georgia Southern was 9 of 13 on third down in the game but just 1 for 3 in the fourth quarter. The Eagles improved to 213-1 all-time when holding an 18-point lead at any time during a game. Georgia Southern's three games this season have been decided by a combined eight points.

Scoring Plays:
GS – King 3-yard run - 11:25 1st, 7-0
ULM – Davis Hughes 34-yard FG attempt - 3:21 1st, 7-3
GS – Kennedy III 4-yard run - 12:47 2nd, 14-3
ULM – Josh Johnson, 26-yard run - 10:04 2nd, 14-10
GS – Kennedy III 5-yard run – 1:37 2nd, 21-10
ULM – Suits 2-yard pass to Jackson – 0:00 2nd, 21-17
GS –Wright 17-yard run – 10:19 3rd, 28-17
GS – Byrd 7-yard punt return – 5:30 3rd, 35-17
ULM – Suits 2-yard pass to Johnson (PAT missed) – 00:29 3rd, 35-23
ULM – Johnson 2-yard run – 4:59 4th, 35-30

Up Next: The Eagles have a week off before playing host to longtime rival Appalachian State Wednesday, Oct. 14, in Paulson Stadium. The game will be broadcast live on ESPN at 7:30 p.m.