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Georgia Southern Wins First-Ever Bowl Game with 58-27 Thrashing of Bowling Green

Congratulations to your 2015 GoDaddy Bowl Champions.

Glenn Andrews-USA TODAY Sports

The Georgia Southern Eagles had a first bowl game to remember, coming from behind to blow out the favored Bowling Green Falcons 58-27 in the GoDaddy Bowl.

Coming off of a loss and the departure of its head coach, the Eagles made sure to send 2015 out on a high note by becoming bowl champions on their very first shot.

The final score made it look easy, but it was far from it.

Georgia Southern certainly won the battle between the fanbases, outnumbering BGSU supporters by a wide margin in Ladd-Peebles Stadium. A lot of that is because Bowling Green is in northern Ohio, but still, Southern fans could be heard on TV yelling and cheering throughout the contest, especially in the second half after the tide turned.

The Eagles came out after halftime down 27-23, but made that a distant memory faster than quarterback Favian Upshaw on the 40-yard dash.

Upshaw became a somewhat unlikely hero in the deciding third quarter. He fumbled twice on the first drive and still managed to lead GS on a 7:30 scoring drive that ended in a touchdown to reclaim the lead.

With half the third quarter already gone, Bowling Green's drive stalled after some bizarre play calling. Facing third and long, the Falcons ran a draw play. Facing fourth and long, they ran a draw play again. Neither worked, and just one play later Upshaw took it in for a career-long 80-yard touchdown and a 10-point lead.

For a boom and bust offense, it was a boom night.

It didn't seem like it could get better for the Eagles until it did. Bowling Green quarterback Matt Johnson fumbled and a Southern lineman fell right on the ball. Wesley Fields, another standout on the night, again made short work of Georgia Southern's next drive as he found the end zone.

After a red-hot first half, the Falcons suddenly couldn't get out of their own way. Two straight first-down plays were negated by holding penalties. Then BGSU fumbled, again, and gave the ball back to the Eagles, again, and Upshaw scored, again.

What was a straight dog fight at halftime turned into garbage time in the span of 15 minutes. Georgia Southern's fans stayed until the end, but only to celebrate because at 51-27 the game was well over. Upshaw added yet another touchdown in the fourth quarter for good measure.

A seven-point underdog, the Eagles doubled up their opponent in both points and time of possession.

Georgia Southern is a bowl champion the moment it became eligible to be a bowl champion. Just like it became a Sun Belt champion on the first try. Just like it became an FCS national champion three times over in its first decade of play.

Okay, I'm getting a little ahead of myself. Things did not look so bright in the first half.

Bowling Green's first drive of the game stalled after a first-down catch was overturned on replay and the Falcons punted.

Georgia Southern's offense went boom on the Eagles' first drive as quarterback Kevin Ellison and company marched right down the field to get an early 7-0 lead. The drive went for 78 yards, 49 of which came from Ellison himself. LA Ramsby finished off the job to get the score.

Bowling Green struck back on its next drive on what was either a brilliant trick play or a bit of luck when Matt Johnson found a streaking, wide open receiver on fourth and one. Instead of tying the game, the extra point was blocked and Georgia Southern senior Matt Dobson ran it all the way back for two points.

It was 9-6 with just over seven minutes left in the first quarter, and it was wild.

Both teams traded punts, then Bowling Green got moving in a big way. Georgia Southern appeared to have their next drive stopped, but a questionable unnecessary roughness penalty on the Eagles gave the Falcons another shot. They took full advantage by scoring on the very next play and going up 13-9. The drive spanned seven plays and 75 yards, and was not good if you're a Georgia Southern fan.

All of that was just in the first quarter.

Georgia Southern didn't get far before punting again to open the second period. Bowling Green then opened up its first drive of the quarter by scoring instantly. 20-9 after a 51-yard strike and the Eagles looked to be in major trouble. .

But just when it looked like Bowling Green was ready to pull away, the option got back in gear and Wesley Fields scored to bring it to within 20-16. Then, for the first time in a while, the Eagle D got a stop, although not without BGSU booming a 70-plus yard punt to pin its opponent deep.

That set up a 12 play, 92-yard drive for the Eagles that ended with this:

Sometimes the ball just bounces your way.

And still, the half would not end! Bowling Green running back Travis Greene broke off a big run on a regular old draw play inside the 10 yard line. Greene scored two plays later by pushing a pile into the end zone for a 27-23 lead that set up that fateful third quarter.

Georgia Southern's senior class won a conference title and played in the national semifinals as freshmen. As sophomores, they beat Florida. As juniors, they were part of the first team to ever go undefeated in conference play as a first-year FBS member. And now, as seniors, they go out by winning the program's first bowl game.

Mobile was a wet and rainy place throughout the festivities leading up to the game and stayed that way during the bowl. It couldn't dampen the mood of anybody in Ladd-Peebles Stadium's Statesboro contingent.

Congratulations to the 2015 GoDaddy Bowl champions.