Eagle kicker makes the difference

Kevin Gregan

The Elon University Phoenix gave the Eagles a run for their money but Alex Hanks, freshman kicker in his first collegiate game, kicked the go-ahead field goal that provided the difference on the scoreboard.

In the 26-23 win, Hanks hit two of his three field goal attempts, including the 32-yard kick with 4:04 left in the game that put the Eagles ahead.

“It was awesome. It was very fun, and I’m very happy to be a Georgia Southern Eagle right now,” Hanks said.

Thanks to his breakout performance, Hanks was named the Southern Conference Special Teams Player of the Week. Each kick that Hanks made was in a situation that would put the Eagles in the lead.

This week, Head Coach Jeff Monken made the decision to start an inexperienced kicker, and it came down to putting the game in Hanks’s hands.

“I’m not going to put him in that situation if I didn’t believe he could do it. I believed he could, and I’m glad he proved us right,” Monken said. “He’s a hard working kid. Everyday he’s been staying after practice working with the coaches. He wants to help our team win, and I’m really proud of him.”

His first field goal was a 27-yarder in the third quarter that also put the Eagles ahead 16-13.

The second field goal that Hanks attempted was from 45 yards out early in the fourth quarter. The kick was blocked because it was kicked low.

The so-far so-clutch kicker hails from Marietta, Ga. where he lettered three times as a kicker and four times as a soccer player. During his senior year, Hanks served as team captain for his soccer team.

Hanks was replacing freshman kicker Ryan Nowicki, who only made one of his three field goal attempts this season.

The field goals that Nowicki missed came against The Citadel in the second week of the season. One of the kicks was blocked; the other one was a last-second missed field goal that would have given the Eagles the win.

After the loss two weeks ago against the Citadel Bulldogs, where the Nowicki missed the winning field goal, Monken and his staff brought a specialist in to improve the Eagle special teams. Carol White helped Hanks and the rest of the kickers a lot over the last two weeks, Hanks said.

This Saturday, the Eagles will play another SoCon game as they host Samford University at 6 p.m.