It was extremely sloppy, but Georgia Southern did just enough to pick up the win in the home opening contest against FCS Maine on Saturday by a score of 26-18.
Southern had a strange game offensively, struggling to move the ball while also periodically ripping off 40-plus yard runs in the eight-point victory.
The biggest issue stemmed from multiple exchanges between the center and quarterback Justin Tomlin, who started in place of injured starter Shai Werts.
Several bad snaps to Tomlin put the Eagles in precarious positions throughout the game, and additional mental mistakes prevented GS from putting the game away in multiple situations.
With that said, Tomlin looked solid in place of the injured Werts, completing 4-of-9 passes for 63 yards while running for 132 yards and a score on the ground.
The Eagles’ defense looked shaky to start the game, allowing Maine quarterback Chris Ferguson to march down the field on the game’s opening drive before standing up at their own 9 yard line and forcing the Black Bears to kick a field goal.
From then on, Georgia Southern dominated the game on defense for the most part when it wasn’t shooting itself in the foot offensively. Scatback Matt LaRoche ran for a game-high 154 yards and a score in the win, essentially taking the place of the suspended Wesley Kennedy III, who will miss an additional two games due to academic violations.
A major missed opportunity came in the first drive of the third quarter. GS running back Logan Wright (114 on 15 carries) ripped off a long 70 yard carry to open the second half and looked to put the Eagles in a good spot offensively on Maine’s 3 yard line with first and goal to go. Southern fumbled on the very next play, coming away from the red zone trip completely empty.
Another key mistake came with a chance to put the game away late in the fourth quarter. One of the many bad snaps occurred with 6 minutes to go in regulation, losing GS 20 yards of field position while in the red zone and forcing Southern to settle for a field goal instead of going for six, letting Maine score a touchdown late to pull the final score within 8.
The Eagles will need to correct these errors next week when traveling to take on the Minnesota Golden Gophers and a familiar foe in head coach P.J. Fleck.