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Georgia Southern stuns undefeated #25 James Madison in 45-38 shootout

The Eagles got just enough from their defense in a huge upset win.

Georgia Southern v Nebraska Photo by Steven Branscombe/Getty Images

Georgia Southern got an all-time great passing performance from signal-caller Kyle Vantrease against #25 James Madison, pulling a huge upset victory as a double-digit home underdog on Saturday night, 45-38.

If you predicted before this game that Georgia Southern’s quarterback would set a single-game Sun Belt passing record en route to a 45-point explosion against a ranked and undefeated opponent, raise your hand.

Hands down, liars.

Vantrease shredded the third-best total defense in the country, throwing for 578 yards and four touchdowns with one interception in the win. The QB was finding open receivers in the James Madison secondary for most of the game, with no pass being more important than the touchdown thrown with 1:10 to go in regulation. Vantrease found the outstretched hands of Derwin Burgess Jr. down one-point, 38-37, to eventually fuel the comeback victory.

NCAA Football: Georgia Southern at Nebraska
Georgia Southern quarterback set the single-game Sun Belt passing record against James Madison on Saturday night, with 578 yards and four TD’s.
Dylan Widger-USA TODAY Sports

Eagles wide receiver Amare Jones was the main beneficiary of his signal-caller going nuclear, posting seven grabs for 164 and a pair of touchdowns in the second and third frames.

On the other side of the field, Dukes quarterback Todd Centeio was sensational with both his arms and legs for most of the game, but three interceptions proved costly as JMU was handed its first conference defeat of the season.

While Centeio’s picks downed the visiting team’s chances of winning, wideout Reggie Brown didn’t miss a step, hauling in eight catches for 136 yards and a score in the loss.

Georgia Southern’s much maligned defense was poor when viewed statistically, but the Eagles got stops when it needed them, and anytime a unit can force four turnovers against an unbeaten opponent it’s hard to complain overall.

With time winding down in regulation, it looked as if the loss against Coastal Carolina was going to replay itself, as the Dukes overcame a 10-point deficit in just four minutes of game time behind a pair of lightning-quick touchdown drives.

But where the Eagles faltered against the Chants earlier in the season — settling for field goals late and struggling to stop the opposing offense — in this one, Southern scored a key touchdown to upset what looked like a powerhouse JMU team.

Southern safety Anthony Wilson’s interception couldn’t have come at a better time as well, picking off Centeio for the third time with 18 seconds to go in regulation to seal the win for the home squad.

The Eagles will look to keep this momentum rolling next week when it travels to take on Old Dominion, while James Madison will host conference foe Marshall next Saturday.