Eagles weathered the storm against Bulldogs

Junior running back Dominique Swope has been named the SoCon Offensive Player of the Week for week one of the season.File photo

Kevin Gregan

The Georgia Southern University Eagles weathered the Samford University Bulldogs and came out of the rain victoriously by a final score of 35-16 on Saturday.

“I thought our defense played a really solid, good football game. Offensively, we’re still making mistakes that we got to eliminate,” head coach Jeff Monken said. “The effort and just the desire of our football was so apparent out there, they were fighting. It was a tough football game. They were fighting, and they had the right attitude about not being denied victory.”

The Bulldogs, who were undefeated coming in, were aggressive early in the game. Thanks to three penalties and a 12-yard touchdown from sophomore B-back Dominique Swope, the Eagles took the early lead.

The Bulldogs responded with an impressive 77-yard drive that ate up 5:02 of the clock, but the Eagle defense proved that they were a force to be reckoned with by holding SU to a field goal.

During the second quarter, the Bulldogs took a 10-7 lead when SU quarterback Andy Summerlin gained some rhythm and connected with receiver Kelsey Pope.

Throughout the entire game, the Eagles struggled to maintain some offensive rhythm were 0 of 10 on third down.

Junior quarterback Jerick McKinnon, who helped provide a spark, replaced GSU quarterback Ezayi Youyoute. The Eagle offense responded quickly to playing from behind with a 41-yard touchdown run from McKinnon.

“We really put Jerick in there just to settle things down, give him an opportunity to carry the ball some, and he really did a nice job. As he started to have some production, we just left him in there,” Monken said.

Later in the second quarter, McKinnon threw an interception but shortly after, Eagle cornerback Lavelle Westbrooks got his second interception of the season and returned it 72 yards for a touchdown.

After halftime, the Eagles led 21-10 and both offenses struggled to get anything going in the rain.

Still struggling on third-down, the Eagles ended up converting a 4th and 2 but the next play Swope fumbled the football. SU safety Jaquiski Tartt recovered the ball and returned it 80 yards for a touchdown. SU went for a two-point conversion but failed which brought the score to 21-16.

On the very next drive, the Eagle offense responded yet again. McKinnon scored his second touchdown of the day after breaking loose for 67 yards. To finish the day, McKinnon gained 162 yards on 13 carries.

Going into the fourth quarter, the Eagle defense locked down on the Bulldogs. SU put an impressive drive together and had the ball on the GSU 5-yard line but failed to convert on a 4th and 1.

The Eagles punched the nail in the coffin when Swope broke loose for 40-yard touchdown to settle the score at 38-16 with 1:30 to go in the game. Swope finished the day with 133 yards off 21 carries and two touchdowns.

With the win, GSU rose to third-place thanks to a 2-1 record  in the Southern Conference. The next game for the Eagles will take place Oct. 6 against Western Carolina University.