The Georgia Southern Eagles played a close game for three quarters, but after falling down early it just wasn’t enough against the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets at Bobby Dodd Stadium.
The first quarter of the contest was an entire different affair than the other three. In fact, Georgia Southern actually won quarters two, three and four, albeit by three points. It all was undone by an awful early effort.
It looked like this: The first three Tech possessions all ended in touchdowns and all three included at least one play of 50 yards or more. It was reminiscent of the early Jacket drives when these teams met in 2014, just without the furious comeback by the Eagles.
Tech made it 7-0 thanks to a 58-yard Justin Thomas touchdown run on the third play from scrimmage, and 14-0 on an equally easy-looking 65-yard touchdown pass to Clinton Lynch.
Credit to the Eagles for finally finishing off a drive, which was expertly led by Favian Upshaw and capped off by a one-yard LA Ramsby run that cut the lead to 14-7.
But it was all Tech in the early going. There’s some conventional wisdom that the Southern defense would play well against Tech because of its familiarity with the option. That sure wasn’t the case at kickoff.
Which leads us to the third Yellow Jackets’ touchdown, with the key play an option pitch to Marcus Marshall for 50 yards. Big plays of 20 yards might have been manageable. Fifty-plus? No. And when it’s 21-7 at the end of the first quarter, and you’re the one with the seven, chances of winning are not good.
Everyone went to sleep in quarters two and three, which featured only a field goal from the Eagles and zero points for the Jackets, then suddenly the squads woke up in the fourth as both teams added two scores. No matter, the closest Southern got was 11 points, which was also the margin of the loss.
GS fans are understandably getting more nervous by the week about head coach Tyson Summers. This effort looked a lot better than the one against Arkansas State. That’s not enough when the end result is still a decided loss to a mediocre Tech team.
The offense looked better too, at least compared to last week. Upshaw and Kevin Ellison marched the Eagles down the field with regularity and, at times, poise and control. They went 18 of 33 for 168 yards and zero interceptions.
Too many drives still fell short of the end zone and too many passes were overthrown or off target just enough to end in a wasted down. It’s hard to blame the quarterbacks for that when they weren’t really recruited to pass.
Those would-be big plays and almost misses excite fans, but on the score sheet they’re the same — maybe even a little worse — than a rush for no gain.
The stats were surprisingly close, Tech with 437 yards of total offense and Southern with 335. GS won time of possession 33:35 to 26:25 The Eagles ran 83 plays to Tech’s 55, and Southern recorded more first downs than Tech, 25 to 19.
So looking at all that, along with the equal effort in the game’s final three stanzas, maybe this team is close to turning a corner and putting it all together for a second-half surge. The faithful in Statesboro sure hope so.