The Georgia Southern Eagles took the field for their season opener against the Savannah State Tigers Saturday night and it was certainly a big night for the team. The Sun Belt squad didn’t have much trouble with the Tigers in their opener as they pulled off a big win in front of a massive crowd at Allen Paulson Stadium.
Georgia Southern came out knowing they needed a big win to start the season and they certainly got it as their offense was dominating on the day.
The Eagles defense got off to a hot start after a big sack on Tiger quarterback Leon Prunty. The first sack of the year went to linebacker Nardo Govan.
The three and out led the Eagles taking their two-quarterback system onto the field and driving 60-plus yards to put up the first score of the game. The touchdown came from quarterback Favian Upshaw on an option carry from three yards out.
On the ensuing drive, the Eagles made a big play by forcing and recovering fumble. Jay Bowdry jumped on the ball and gave the offense possession at the Tigers’ 24.
Just two plays later, Upshaw raced in for his second touchdown of the day from 33 yards out to make the score 14-0 in less than a minute.
The Eagles continued their dominance on defense as defensive tackle Darius Sapp came up with a big 11-yard sack on a third down for the Tigers. Running back Wesley Fields ended up getting into the endzone for his first touchdown the year from one yard out, making the score 21-0 just before the end of the first quarter.
Midway through the second quarter, wide receiver Obe Fortune was disqualified from the game on a targeting call. The Eagles didn’t let that bother them, however, as they drove down the field and Upshaw found running back Matt Breida from 12 yards for a touchdown to make the score 28-0 going into halftime.
The Eagles got the ball to open the third quarter and wasted little time to get back into the endzone once again. Quarterback Kevin Ellison found his way to paydirt from 11 yards out, making the score 34-0.
Once again, Georgia Southern forced a punt and was backed up inside its own 10-yard line. Upshaw hit receiver Montay Crockett with a 39-yard bomb, despite the defensive pass interference, and the Eagles were in business again.
The Eagles continued to pour it on as Upshaw connected with Fields from 30 yards out to make the score 40-0. The two-point conversion try was no good and it remained that way with just under six minutes left in the third quarter.
Georgia Southern continued to dominate as their defense forced another fumble. It was recovered by Logan Hunt, giving the Eagles the ball at the Savannah State 26.
Breida got into the endzone on the ground in just one play as he exploded off an option play. The extra point made the score 47-0.
The Tigers finally got something go their way on defense as backup quarterback LaBaron Anthony was hit and lost the ball, allowing Quaron Hilliard to recover the ball. However, Georgia Southern safety Robert Brice intercepted a pass, halting the Tigers’ dreams of putting points on the board.
A big run by backup running back Demarcus Godfrey set the Eagles up inside the 10-yard line. He went for 40 yards and Troy Stewart finished the drive off with a touchdown sprint for seven yards, making the final score 54-0.
Upshaw finished the day with 115 yards and two touchdowns with one interception through the air and 53 yards and two scores on the ground. Fields finished with 122 total yards and two scores, while Godfrey was the only 100-plus yard rusher on the night.
Defensively, Florida State transfer linebacker Ukeme Eligwe finished with five tackles, 1.5 for loss, and a sack.
“It’s definitely a good feeling allowing the young guys to get out there and play,” Breida said after the win. “It gives us a chance to see what we got as a whole team and where we’re at right now.”
The Eagles continue their season next week as they take on the South Alabama Jaguars, who upset Mississippi State earlier in the day.