Fans held their breath for three and a half quarters but the Eagles came through, winning the Sun Belt on their first shot.
Georgia Southern (9-3, 8-0) beat ULM (4-8, 3-7) on the strength of its trademark Fritzkreig offense and a stingy defense Saturday night. The Warhawks didn't make it easy though as they led for much of the game. The contest was every bit as close as the 22-16 final score looked
The first half wasn't pretty and the second half wasn't either. Southern moved the ball fine and recovered a ULM fumble early but drives always stalled short of pay dirt. Southern went 1 for 2 on field goals for three points in the first two quarters. It seemed the Eagles would bust loose for a big play at any moment, and they did twice. Both times though Warhawk defenders made tackles inside the red zone.
ULM couldn't do much with the rock early save for an all-too-easy pass from quarterback Pete Thomas to Rashon Ceaser (and yes, that's the guy who promised UL he'd "beat Georgia Southern for y'all.") They added another touchdown pass in the third quarter. The Warhawk offense trotted out five wide receivers on play after play, daring Southern's iffy secondary to stop them. They finally did, on the game's very last play.
It seemed like each time the Eagles came up with a big play there'd be laundry on the field and a zebra pointing the wrong way. I won't say it felt like Southern was playing two teams, but it felt like Southern was playing two teams.
Two second half touchdowns put GSU in front and the team barely held on against a late ULM rally.
Google "ugly win" and I hope this recap comes up. In the end though it's all about winning and that's what Georgia Southern did for the ninth time this season. Whew.
All right enough about that
Since this was the last game of the season (stupid NCAA) I have to get this out of the way: I've been watching Georgia Southern football since 2002 and this might be my favorite Eagle football team of all time. So many times this year you could watch, enjoy and have complete faith Georgia Southern would come out with the W. Hell, it was tough not to daydream through some contests. That wasn't the case tonight but on the whole this was one dominant team.
The Eagles went 5-0 at home, 8-0 in the Sun Belt and finished number one in the country in rushing offense. They beat App State for the first time in four years, smoked Georgia State out of
their own the Falcons' stadium and dominated the new conference in year one.
There will always be the what ifs, especially in the Georgia Tech game with what will always be the wrong call. Let's not be greedy folks. This was a dream season.
Eagle Extras: Georgia Southern President Brooks Keel could be seen pregame sporting a highball glass filled with brown liquid. Technically it could have been sweet tea. Let's hope not.
Sun Belt Commissioner Karl Benson was on hand for the game as well and made an appearance on the pregame radio show.
A small crowd was expected considering it was cold, students went home on Tuesday and it was two days after Thanksgiving. The fans showed up though, to the tune of a loud 16,283.
I was on the sideline when Georgia Southern scored the go-ahead touchdown early in the fourth quarter. A number of penalties had gone against the Eagles and a flag went up before the snap. Willie Fritz let it be known he was not happy about it, luckily it ended up being against ULM.
Georgia Southern missed its first two extra point attempts. When the third split the uprights I'd never heard a crowd cheer so loud for a PAT.