It was a game that everyone had been anticipating since last season, and Saturday night in Paulson Stadium, the Eagles accomplished a big task. Georgia Southern came out on top with a 28-21 win over Arkansas State who was predicted to win yet another conference championship.
Here are five takeaways from Saturday’s victory:
Overcoming Arkansas State for the first time
For the first time since being placed in the Sun Belt Conference, Georgia Southern won against Arkansas State despite being underdogs. With ASU being a team that has previously won conference championships, there were questions in the air about how the Eagles would perform.
This was a test of mental strength for the team. With all the negativity and doubt that comes along with losing games, they had to find focus again.
“Each day is a work day for us,” senior running back Wesley Fields said. “We knew coming in that this team was just going to give it their all.”
It was all about getting back to the basics and taking steps back to work hard made this victory even sweeter for the Eagles.
Secondary locks down in biggest test so far
There was no way that the ASU offense was going to run over the GS backfield. Since the players went into the game with a strategic mentality, each play was focused on individually.
Junior cornerback Monquavion Brinson showed Eagle Nation just what they wanted to see. With 11 tackles during this game he meant business and did not stop until that whistle was blown. Brinson’s four pass breakups were essential to keep a strong ASU offense from gaining momentum.
There was always a sense of awareness during the game that aided the backfield in pushing harder and harder for that win.
ASU only had four passes that exceeded 20 yards and even those were difficult for them to lock down. The secondary kept the Eagles in the game by playing their hardest.
Consistency in the option
Having the set mentality of working hard through every play helped when it came to the Eagles’ side of the ball. Tuning everything out showed in each play executed by the offensive line.
Play after play, the ball was driven by a determined offense that refused to back down. The running game was the golden ticket Saturday and with players like sophomore running back Wesley Kennedy III, yardage racked up.
“We believe in each other more and we’re honestly playing for each other,” Kennedy said pertaining to work during bye week and preparing for ASU.
The constant power from driving rushing yards got GS major points. It was all about teamwork, believing in one another’s power and the fire on the Eagles’ side of the ball.
Defensive line has stellar night
Tackling the ASU offense was one of the main goals going into Saturday’s game. ASU has had a powerful offense in recent weeks and the boys on the other side of the ball had to ensure that nothing got passed them.
The defensive line held ASU to 3 points during the first half of the game. There were a total of 6 sacks and defensive end Logan Hunt had three of them.
“Just paying attention to execution on plays,” Hunt said when asked about the keys to success.
Coach Lunsford has reminded them to do this during practice for the past two weeks and it seems to have worked. The guys are taught that after every play it is time to focus on the next with just as much power.
“We just know when adversity hits we gotta reset and go play the next place because it’s in the past,” Lunsford said.
Breaking it down and taking each play as it happens helped our d-line to stay focused and strong against an ASU offense that was said to be powerful.
Werts continues to have MVP-caliber campaign
Followers of Georgia Southern Football already know that redshirt-sophomore quarterback Shai Werts is a powerhouse. However, he proved again, why he is a multi-dimensional player.
Not only can he throw the ball, throwing a 61-yard pass that Wesley Fields ran for a touchdown, but Werts rushed 113 yards for the game.
Every part of Saturday’s game was about stripping everything down to basics and fundamentals.
“It gave us time to prepare for everything that Arkansas State was going to throw at us,” Werts said pertaining to time since the loss at Clemson.
Focusing was his main goal. It is not a time to worry about the opponent.
“When you come in here in Paulson, you got to be ready to play,” Werts said. And that is exactly what the Eagles did.
Bethany-Grace Bowers, The George-Anne Sports Candidate, email@example.com