In my preview for the Georgia Southern/Arkansas State game, I wondered aloud if the Eagles would respond following the firing of Chad Lunsford last Sunday, or if the team would just coast along to close the 2021 campaign.
Southern let everyone know they would not go out quietly with a resounding 59-33 win over the Red Wolves on Saturday, buoyed by the rushing effort of Logan Wright and 530 yards of total offense.
Wright rushed for a whopping 208 yards on just 10 carries, adding two touchdowns on an average of 20.8 yards per carry. As a whole, GS ran for over 500 yards as a unit and got back to their roots, as this game was over essentially by the start of the fourth quarter.
Just for perspective, Wright had 177 yards on the ground in the season opener on 26 totes, and then a combined 21 carries against FAU, Arkansas and Louisiana. This guy needs more touches.
Fellow GS runner Jalen White owned the second half of this game, adding 157 yards on the ground and as many scores as Wright had in the first two quarters.
On Arkansas State’s side of things, it was not a good day for starting quarterback James Blackman by any measure. The Red Wolves’ signal caller was sacked 6 times by a swarming Eagles defense, and threw three interceptions, one of which going for a pick-six to Quin Williams to close the third frame.
Believe it or not, this game started fairly slowly and then the scoring exploded between the two teams before half. This game was 10-3 at the close of the first quarter, following a 59-yard touchdown run by Wright, and then a pair of field goals for each team.
By halftime, both teams had scored a combined 50 points between them in the first half alone.
I hope everyone who read the preview took the over in this game.
Georgia Southern’s ability to force turnovers and get to Blackman in the backfield was what allowed the home team to pull away in the second half, as the scoring came easy for both teams. By the end of this one, the two squads had combined for over 1000 yards of total offense between them.
I know that to outside readers scoring 59 points against the worst defense statistically in the country may not mean much, but to the followers of Southern this year, this showed that the team may have a pulse.
Interim head coach Kevin Whitley and his team showed a toughness on defense and success running the football that it had not displayed in the previous four games to open the year.
It is a shame that it took the firing of Lunsford to motivate this team to play to their potential, but at least something finally lit a fire under Southern for this win.
The Eagles will look to build off of this win next week against Troy, while Arkansas State has a tough schedule of Coastal Carolina and Louisiana over the course of the next 3 weeks.