Eagles have explosive running game in home opener against Maine

Kaitlin Sells

 STATESBORO The Georgia Southern Eagles collected their first win of the season over Maine Saturday with the arrival of the running game. 

As a team the Eagles racked up 395 rushing yards, with redshirt-sophomore running back Matt LaRoche, redshirt-freshman quarterback Justin Tomlin and redshirt-sophomore running back Logan Wright all picked up over 100 rushing yards each. 

The first half lagged in big runs for the offense as the Eagles ran into the locker room at the half with only 121 rushing yards and only one rushing touchdown in the books. They kicked it up a notch in the second half, as head coach Chad Lunsford challenged them to.

“When I was asked about the first half the defense is playing really well, but our offense is not doing anything to have explosive runs,” Lunsford said. “I thought they took that challenge in the second half and to be able to have some big runs like we had, to be able to rush for what we did is definitely a positive.”

The GS offense has seen a complete turn around from last week, as they only put up 74 rushing yards on LSU. 

“We just corrected what we needed to correct,” Wright said. “It made a big difference. [The running backs’] communication got better. We just got more chemistry this week.”

Chemistry seemed to be the name of the game for the running backs and the offensive line in general tonight. It showed on the field, they worked well together and they ran plays seamlessly. Between Wright, LaRoche and the rest of the offensive line, the Eagles looked comfortable with each other.

With two rushing touchdowns, 395 rushing yards and only 63 passing yards, the offense exhibited their strength in their running game. Things just clicked for the offensive line tonight. The running backs, Wright specifically, found success with finding holes to explode through while running the ball up the middle. 

“We have a better understanding of each other,” LaRoche said. “The o-line, we communicate better.”

The Eagles were looking for redemption after their ugly season opener against LSU, and they bounced back with confidence.

“Like coach said we have to reset,” LaRoche said. “We can’t let one game define us. We still have to push through. We’ve still got 11 more opportunities to do what we’ve got to do.”

In the second half, LaRoche stepped up, finding that sweet spot on the outside allowed him to  average 17.1 yards per carry on the night. 

LaRoche had many explosive runs, with his longest run on the night allowing for a 75-yard gain. Overall he logged 154 rushing yards and scored his first touchdown on the season. 

“[Scoring the touchdown] felt amazing,” LaRoche said. “My first time ever scoring. Have to give credit to the o-line for doing their job and just finishing it. I really was like ‘finally I scored’. I was so excited just pumped up.”

Kaitlin Sells, The George-Anne Managing Sports Editor, gasports@georgiasouthern.edu