By MIKE ANTHONY
No matter the perceived advantage or disadvantage going into a game, there are always certain teams that just never seem to make things easy.
Georgia Southern had a conference rival like that in The Citadel back in its Southern Conference days and seems to have found a new personal jinx in UL Monroe now that the Eagles reside in the Sun Belt.
The Warhawks took Georgia Southern down to the last play of the 2014 season and nearly erased a three-touchdown deficit last year in Louisiana. It was business as usual again Saturday night as the heavily favored Eagles were once again given all they could handle by an upset-minded Monroe squad.
“They’re a well-coached team,” Georgia Southern quarterback Kevin Ellison said. “They’re disciplined. They don’t make mistakes and they make us pay for ours. That’s a good team that is always tough to beat.”
SAVE YOUR TICKET STUB
While Saturday’s win wasn’t the prettiest for Georgia Southern, anyone who saw it is now a part of history.
In a perfect storm that included Family Weekend, a conference rival in town, High School Band Day and some great September weather, a new record of 25,735 were in attendance at Saturday’s game.
The previous record of 25,725 had stood for nearly 27 years and was set when the Eagles defeated Stephen F. Austin for the 1989 FCS national championship.
SHARING THE LOAD
For the second time in three games, no Georgia Southern starter topped 100 yards rushing. In fact, Favian Upshaw’s 100-yard effort at South Alabama last week stands as the only starter to top the century mark this season.
“There’s a lot of guys who pitch in,” Ellison said. “You know lots of teams are going to be keying on the run. We just try to make plays whenever we can.”
The lack of individual breakout performances doesn’t mean the team is suffering much. The Eagles entered Saturday’s game ranked second in the nation in rushing and their 345-yard ground effort against the Warhawks will keep them among the best in the country.
After shutting out Savannah State and allowing just three field goals to South Alabama, the Georgia Southern defense didn’t take kindly to allowing a pair of first quarter touchdowns to ULM.
“With the coverages we were playing, we knew they’d get some yards underneath,” GS linebacker Ukeme Eligwe said. “What we didn’t like were the big plays. We did a better job of stopping those after the first few series.”
The Eagles continued to make plays opposite the line of scrimmage, sacking ULM quarterback Garrett Smith twice and notching six tackles for a loss.
Eligwe also hauled in an interception and - following the game - was all smiles as he stared at fellow linebacker Ironhead Gallon and bragged about having the softest hands of anyone in the Eagles’ linebacking corps.