Georgia Southern defense holds strong against UMass in 34-13 victory

Ryan Kostensky

While the offense rolled over the Minutemen continuously through the game, both through the air and on the ground, the defense excelled, holding UMass to just one touchdown.

After trailing 3-0 after the first quarter the Eagles stifled UMass, creating two turnovers during the game. It was Raymond Johnson III who got the party started, scooping up a loose ball, giving GS a prime opportunity to break the game wide open. The Eagles would hand the ball back via a fumble a few plays later.

Georgia Southern fell victim to the targeting penalty in the third quarter when redshirt-junior linebacker Rashad Byrd tackled a UMass offensive player. After the officials reviewed the play, it was decided that Byrd was guilty of targeting, thus ejected from the game. Byrd will miss the first half of the Clemson game next Saturday.

In the fourth quarter, GS linebacker, Benz Josue, comes up with the game-sealing interception off of the UMass quarterback, Andrew Ford.

Head Coach Chad Lunsford improves his record to 4-4 as the Eagles’ head man, and he talked about how preparation was key in the victory.

“I thought the defensive players and defensive coaches did a really good job this week,” Lunsford said. “UMass is a really good offense, Isabella is a really good receiver, those two quarterbacks do a really good job. I thought it was really good how our defensive guys really took to the coaching this week of looking at personnel, looking at the formations and really dialing in to what the did in certain things. They were locked in, that’s good to see.”

Georgia Southern held UMass to 283 yards of total defense, which may look like a lot at a glance, but the Eagles only allowed 90 of that on the ground while the Eagle offense amassed 407 yards of total offense.

Senior safety Joshua Moon, had six tackles and a pass break up in the Eagles’ victory, talked about what it’s been like to play for the revamped defense Georgia Southern boasts.

The secondary played excellent over the course of the game, despite the stats, limiting the damage to just 13 points. In the beginning of the game, it looked like the Eagles might struggle, but they remain locked in, recording yet another interception.

“Feels great, you know?” Moon said. “The offense is doing their job, doing great on their side of the ball. We just have to do a good job of helping them out because, right now, they’re doing what they’re supposed to do.”

Georgia Southern travels to No. 2 Clemson to face off against the Tigers. With one of the best teams in the nation on the horizon, the Eagles will look to put their defense to the test. Kickoff is scheduled for 3:30 p.m.

Ryan Kostensky, The George-Anne Sports Reporter,