It wasn't as easy as the final score indicates but Georgia Southern got by ULM with a 51-31 road victory.
The Eagles (4-1, 2-0) relied once again on their unstoppable run game, outgaining ULM (1-3, 0-1) 455 to 47 on the ground. Head Coach Willie Fritz also continued experimenting with more passing plays, with decidedly mixed results.
Southern jumped out to a 7-0 lead on a blocked punt by Ironhead Gallon that was returned for a touchdown by Ken Butler. After an Alex Hanks field goal made it 10-0 Southern ran the score all the way up to 31-3 thanks to scores by LA Ramsby, Matt Breida and Wesley Fields.
It wouldn't be quite that easy though as the Warhawks scored a touchdown just before the half and must have received a fantastic speech during the break from Head Coach Todd Berry. ULM opened the second half scoring with a passing touchdown to pull to 31-17.
Southern got two interceptions from Matt Dobson and Darius Jones in the third quarter but could not capitalize. Kevin Ellison then threw a pick six to ULM's Junior Williams and suddenly it was 31-24 with Eagle fans getting real nervous.
That's as close as it got though.The offense returned to what it does best (run) and made short work of the comeback attempt thanks to three quick touchdowns that put the game out of reach.
A few thoughts on the matchup:
Stats: The tailback trio of Breida, Ramsby and Wesley Fields each scored twice as the unstoppable run game rolled on. At the same time, the passing game struggled again, with Kevin Ellison going 3 for 9 with 48 yards, zero touchdowns and a pick six. The idea of running a balanced offense is nice but if it ain't broke why try to fix it?
Defense: The Eagles struggle against the pass at times but they know how to catch one. Southern gave up 232 yards and three touchdowns to ULM quarterback Garrett Smith, but not without Antonio Glover, Jones and Dobson all picking up an interception along the way. Winning the turnover battle played a huge role in the lopsided final score. Also, holding the Warhawks to 47 rushing yards is a huge accomplishment for the front four.
Penalties: Southern came into the game averaging three penalties a game. They were flagged for three on their first possession tonight. The first half featured 17 penalties between the two teams for a total of 117 yards, and at game's end there were 22 penalties for 183 yards combined. ULM entered the contest as the nation's most-penalized team and apparently had some influence on their opponents.
Pulling our weight: Georgia Governor Nathan Deal owes Statesboro a visit for bailing his state out of a winless college football Saturday. The Georgia Bulldogs partied like it's 2008 in a 38-10 beatdown against Alabama, Georgia Tech continued its implosion with a 38-31 loss to North Carolina, and Georgia State fell at home to FCS Liberty by the final score of 41-33. The Eagles were the lone bright spot in the entire Peach State.
After a bye week it's homecoming against New Mexico State, who lost to New Mexico 38-29 in their last game. They're 0-4 on the season and will likely make a perfect opponent for the homecoming party. See you in Statesboro.