Athens gives Eagles the butterfingers

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Jannah Bolds

Frequently mishandling the ball became a problem for the Georgia Southern University Eagles today in Athens, Ga. against the University of Georgia Bulldogs.

The Eagles let the ball slip out of their hands a total of four times and lost possession twice throughout the game. GSU fumbled the ball once in the first quarter, once in the third quarter and twice in the fourth.

“We put the ball on the ground some and we turned it over twice. Anytime you turn the ball over, hurts,” GSU head coach Jeff Monken said.

On GSU’s fumble in the first half, junior quarterback Jerick McKinnon had his team down in Bulldog territory on the 30 yard line when he rushed the ball four yards until the ball slipped out of his grip and was recovered by UGA’s junior defensive end Garrison Smith at the 33 yard line.

“Jerick was going to throw the ball deep down the boundary and he saw the slot pull up, so he tried to hold the ball back and he fumbled it, that hurt because I thought maybe we would get some points there,” Monken said.

The next slip up for the Eagles didn’t come until there were five minutes left in the third quarter. Here on a fresh set of downs, McKinnon handed the ball off to sophomore running back Dominique Swope who was trying to rush his way out of his own territory. Swope was able to gain four yards until he fumbled and UGA’s junior outside linebacker Alec Ogeltree was there to recover the ball for the Bulldogs.

“He was carrying the ball on a dive play and didn’t get it tucked well enough as he went through the line and someone punched it out; turnovers always make a difference,” Monken said.

“Anytime we turn the ball over, it’s going to hurt us. We stress it at practice to hold on to the ball because we don’t want to give the other team any more opportunities than they deserve,” GSU senior running back Darreion Robinson said.

In the final quarter, the Eagles committed two fumbles, one recovered by GSU and the other by UGA. On the first play of the fourth, McKinnon lost the ball at the line of scrimmage but realized his mistake and quickly fell on top of it to keep possession.

The final fumble on the Eagles’ side came right after they regained possession from a UGA punt. From a pitch from McKinnon, junior running back Johnathan Bryant lost control of the ball after it was forced out of his hands by UGA’s All-American junior outside linebacker Jarvis Jones. Thankfully for the Eagles, Swope was nearby to recover the lost ball but still lost three yards in the process.

“In a game like this, we needed to get some breaks and we didn’t get a lot of those,” Monken said.