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Eagles survive comeback bid by Gardner-Webb
GS Football
Georgia Southern quarterback Amare Jones steps out of a tackle attempt during Saturday's game at Paulson Stadium. Jones ran for 98 yards as the Eagles posted a 30-25 victory to open their season. - photo by By SCOTT BRYANT/staff
STATESBORO – Logan Wright ran 26 times for 178 yards and a touchdown, and Khadry Jackson sealed the win with a sack as Georgia Southern dug out a 30-25 football victory over Gardner-Webb Saturday evening in Paulson Stadium in the season opener for both teams.

Trailing by five points, Gardner-Webb got the ball at their own 30-yard line with 2:36 to play. Bailey Fisher, who finished the game with 315 passing yards and three touchdowns, completed two passes to help move the Bulldogs down to the Georgia Southern 29-yard line.

The Eagle defense brought the pressure from there as Kierron Smith got to Fisher, and AJ Watkins broke up his pass attempt on first down. Watkins broke free for a 7-yard sack to set up 3rd and 17. Dillon Springer met Fisher for no gain as the quarterback tried to step up in the pocket, and Jackson got home for another sack on fourth down to give the ball back to the Eagles.

Eagles of the Game: 
Amare Jones got the start at quarterback, ran 19 times for 98 yards and completed four passes for 45 yards. Gerald Green posted 72 yards and a touchdown on 11 carries, and Cam Ransom completed 8 of 13 passes for 90 yards and a score in his collegiate debut. Britton Williams made three field goals and three extra points in his collegiate debut.

Key Moments:
Clinging to a 23-18 lead following a Gardner-Webb touchdown, Georgia Southern answered with a 6-play, 58-yard touchdown drive. Jones picked up 33 yards on the ground and pitched to Wright for an 8-yard touchdown run four plays later as the Eagles extended the cushion to 12 with 6:32 to play.

Gardner-Webb came right back, and Fisher hit Justin Franklin for a 7-yard touchdown pass, cutting the margin to 30-25 with 2:59 remaining. The Runnin' Bulldogs forced a 3-and-out for the Eagles, setting up the game's final frantic moments. 

Georgia Southern led 20-6 at the break, but Gardner-Webb made it a one-score game with a 50-yard halfback pass from Franklin to Justin Jordan with 5:54 left in the third quarter. The Eagles came back with a methodical 73-yard drive that took 5:52 off the clock, but Wright was tackled in the backfield on 3rd-and-goal from the 2-yard line. The Eagles had to settle for a 23-yard field goal by Williams that extended the margin to 23-12 five seconds into the fourth.

Fisher connected with T.J. Luther for a 47-yard gain on 3rd-and-3, and the Bulldogs cut the lead to 23-18 when Fisher found Deland Thomas for a 6-yard touchdown pass with 9:32 to play. 

Key Stats:
The Eagles were 5 for 5 in the red zone but had to settle for two field goals. GS was 4 of 5 on fourth down and held the ball for more than 11 minutes longer than Gardner-Webb.

Britton Williams nailed a 49-yard field goal on his first collegiate field goal attempt.
Cam Ransom completed the first seven passes in his collegiate career.
- Georgia Southern has won 14 of its past 15 home openers and is 31-7-1 all-time in home openers (31-6 at Paulson Stadium).
- The Eagles have won 28 straight home games against nonconference opponents dating back to a Nov. 18, 2006 overtime loss to Central Arkansas that ended the season. Georgia Southern boasts a 125-16 all-time record at Paulson Stadium in non-conference contests.

Scoring Plays:
GS - 1st, 04:20 - Britton Williams 49 yd Field Goal, 3-0
GW - 1st, 00:51 - T.J. Luther 41 yd pass from Bailey Fisher (2pt no good), 3-6
GS - 2nd, 13:11 - Gerald Green 1 yd rush (PAT good), 10-6
GS - 2nd, 04:00 - Chase Hancock 17 yd pass from Cam Ransom (PAT good), 17-6
GS - 2nd, 00:03 - Williams 25 yd Field Goal, 20-6
GW - 3rd, 05:54 - Justin Jordan 50 yd pass from Justin Franklin (PAT no good), 20-12
GS - 4th, 14:55 - Williams 23 yd Field Goal, 23-12
GW - 4th, 09:32 - Deland Thomas 6 yd pass from Fisher (2pt no good), 23-18
GS - 4th, 06:32 - Logan Wright 8 yd rush (PAT good), 30-18
GW - 4th, 02:59 - Franklin 7 yd pass from Fisher (PAT good), 30-25

Next Up:

The Eagles travel to FAU next Saturday. Kickoff is set for 3:30 p.m.