Five takeaways from Georgia Southern’s 35-14 win against Georgia State

Ryan Kostensky

The Eagles hailed victorious in the latest installment of the Southern-State series, downing the Panthers 35-14 in GS’ first trip to the stadium formerly known as Turner Field. Here are five takeaways from GS’ ninth win of the season.

The offense is back to vintage form

A week after dropping 41 points in a victory against Coastal Carolina, the Eagles’ offense put up a crooked number yet again, this time scoring 35 points to beat rival GSU. Redshirt-sophomore quarterback Shai Werts had perhaps his best game through the air in his young career, completing eight of his 11 passes for 105 yards and two touchdowns.

Both of Werts’ TD passes were lengthy, with one coming from 38 yards out, when he hit redshirt-sophomore receiver Darion Anderson for the score, and the second coming when redshirt-junior receiver Colby Ransom hauled in a 58-yard bomb for the score.

On the ground, Werts also contributed 75 yards and yet another rushing touchdown. Senior running back Wesley Fields had a career day, running up and down on the Panthers all afternoon. Fields rushed for 151 yards on 16 attempts, but the highlight of the afternoon came when he broke free for a 63-yard touchdown.

The defense continued their dominant roll

As has been the case the majority of the season, the GS defense was yet again lights out. The Panthers were limited to 264 total yards, but the most impressive stat of the night was that out of those 264 yards, only 94 came on the ground. The front-seven on the defense played stingy yet again as the Eagles recorded two sacks, both of which came from redshirt-senior nose tackle Ian Bush. Redshirt-junior linebacker Lane Ecton pulled down his first career interception when he deflected a pass to himself, before he would catch and run for a few yards.

GS leads the nation in turnover margin

With Ecton’s interception in the first half, and no turnovers by the offense, the Eagles continued to widen their more-than-impressive turnover margin. GS leads the nation with a +24 turnover margin, which is five more than any other team. Self-proclaimed 2017 National Champions UCF comes in second with a +16 margin.

The reason the Eagles have been so stellar in this category is largely due in part to their discipline. The defense has recovered 12 fumbles while picking off opposing quarterbacks 14 times, and have given the ball away just five times, all via fumbles. There’s a certain starting quarterback who dawns the True Blue who’s just four quarters away from going all 13 games without throwing an interception.

GSU still leads the rivalry series

Even with the win by GS, State still leads the rivalry series by a tally of 3-2. As many True Blue fans are aware, the win snaps the Eagles’ three-game losing streak against the Panthers, giving them their first win since the first win of the rivalry series. The fifth installment was much like the first, where GS beat GSU rather handily on the road, but only the first time the Eagles have beaten State in the confines of Turner Field.

One important note on the series is that GS has never beaten GSU inside Paulson Stadium, falling to them in both 2015 and 2017. Despite being down in the series overall, don’t expect that lead to last much longer for the Panthers.

Georgia Southern can now notch their first 10-win season as an FBS team

The Eagles have been a storied team and FCS powerhouse since the program’s rebirth in the 80’s. Between then and 2014, when GS moved up to FBS for the first time, the team amassed six national titles and won more than 10 games multiple times, but since moving up they have yet to reach the 10-win plateau.

The Eagles came close in 2015, when they finished 9-4 as GoDaddy Bowl Champions, but would fall off in wins the next two seasons. At 9-3, GS awaits selection Sunday when they find out where they will be going bowling, getting that chance to get to 10 wins.

What’s next?

With the completion of the 2018 regular season, the Eagles will have to sit and wait until next Sunday to find out where they’ll be playing their postseason game. Possible destinations include Mobile for the Dollar General Bowl (formerly known as GoDaddy Bowl), Montgomery for the Camellia Bowl, Orlando for the Cure Bowl and Tucson for the Arizona Bowl.

Ryan Kostensky, The George-Anne Sports Reporter,