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Georgia Southern holds first pre-season scrimmage
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Georgia Southern running back Jalen White outruns the entire defense for a 68-yeard touchdown during a scrimmage at Paulson Stadium Saturday, Aug. 15. - photo by SCOTT BRYANT/staff

Saturday morning the Georgia Southern football team was able to check off another step toward opening the 2020 season. The Eagles went through an 84-play live scrimmage at Paulson Stadium. The only real difference in Saturday’s scrimmage, and the scrimmages they have had in the past is no fans were allowed in the stands.


“I believe it’s been since March 12th since we’ve had a real scrimmage,” said Georgia Southern coach Chad Lunsford. “There was a lot of energy out there, and our guys were excited about today. In practice you end up with more segments of doing things, well this is more game like. You are still stopping things every six plays, but I thought we had great energy and I thought the guys did a great job of going at it and trying to get better.”


Among the highlights from the scrimmage redshirt freshman running back Jordan Pearson, and incoming freshman Jalen White each scored touchdowns. White scored from 68 yards away, while Pearson scored on a 39-yard run. Defensively sophomore Deonta Bembry had an interception, and freshman Trevon Locke had a fumble recovery.


“Our veterans continue to lead,” said Lunsford. “They continue to make plays, and they continue to get our offense and defense on track. I was also impressed by a couple of our younger players. Jaylen White really had a huge day running the football, and Trevon Locke who caused a fumble down toward the end zone. There’s a lot of film to watch, but some guys did stick out today.”


The defense seemed to be a little ahead of the offense at Saturday’s scrimmage, which is usually the case for this time in the preseason. The first team was limited in their reps, but quarterback Shai Werts felt there were limited signs of rust.


“There was a lot of energy out there for sure,” said Werts. “I didn’t get in for too many plays, but I got in enough to see what we need to work on, and it felt great. I’m proud of the guys for working hard. We have some little things to clean up, but overall I am proud of where we are at.”


“Personally I feel like I am stronger and healthier than I have ever been before,” Werts said. “Right now I feel like I am playing at a level I have never been at before. I’ve just tapped into something, my confidence is through the roof and I just hope to keep this momentum into the season.”


Senior running back Wesley Kennedy was limited to just five carries for 13 yards, but like Werts was happy to be back on the field scrimmaging, and was impressed by what he saw particularly from some of the younger players.


“I took some energy and saw some focus and determination from the young guys out there,” Kennedy said. “I got a late start last year, so I am trying to dominate with everything I am doing out there. I am trying to be the best I can be, for my team but also for myself.”


 


The Eagles also had their first NCAA mandated COVID-19 testing, the results of which came back Friday. Georgia Southern University has decided that the only testing results they will release will be for the entire student body, but Lunsford seemed eager to share the results.


“It was very favorable,” Lunsford said. “I’m not allowed to talk about test results, but what I will say about this is it shows that we are doing the right thing here. Our test results proved that what we are doing in the weight rooms, and the meeting rooms, on the field and what our guys are doing outside the facility show how much they really want to do.”


Georgia Southern begins the fall semester Monday, and will not hold a practice session. They will begin afternoon practices Tuesday, and will hold another scrimmage on Saturday. Scrimmages are not open to the public due to COVID-19 guidelines.