GSU starts off season with dominating performance

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Randall Hampton

A stout defense and a potent rushing attack led to a dominating 77-9 performance by the Georgia Southern University football team at Allen E. Paulson Stadium Saturday to start the season.

Savannah State University could not contain the GSU running game as the Eagles rushed for 576 yards.  Eight different players ran for touchdowns including redshirt freshman quarterback Kevin Ellison.

“My coaches told me to be ready and that my time would come,” Ellison said.  “I knew my teammates were going to be behind me each and every step, we always come together and always back each other up.”

Senior quarterback Jerick McKinnon scored the first touchdown of the season on a broken play that turned into a 66-yard scramble for the end zone.  McKinnon broke a tackle, reversed field and let his blocking do the rest.

“Early on, Savannah State was getting a lot of penetration and the defense found its way into the backfield,” McKinnon said.  “I was fortunate enough to break the tackle, got some great downfield blocking and broke loose for a touchdown.”

The offense put up 77 points, but it was the defense that came out and set the tone.  SSU could only gain two first downs the entire first half and finished the game with nine total first downs.

“As a defense, I think we played great, but there is still a lot of stuff we need to work on technique-wise and assignment-wise,” junior safety Deion Stanley said.

Stanley was one of three Eagles to record an interception against SSU.  He picked off a pass near the end zone intended for SSU senior wide receiver Simon Heyward.

GSU scored its second-highest point total in team history, but not everything on the offensive side of the ball made head coach Jeff Monken happy.

“I tell our team it’s more about the way we play than what the final result is,” Monken said.  “Just a sloppy first half, we had so many missed assignments and missed blocks.”

Monken liked the effort he saw out of his team but he was expecting much more in the intensity and execution departments.

“At times their intensity level was better than ours,” Monken said.  “I think our guys got lulled into thinking this isn’t Alabama, this isn’t North Dakota State and this isn’t one of those SoCon teams, so we are not going to have to bring our very best.”

Every opponent that lines up against GSU will not carry a big name and Monken does not want a repeat of the poor execution next week.

Monken said, “All I want is perfection, is that too much to ask?”