Eagles fall to Western Michigan, 49-31

Hayden Boudreaux

It was a match-up of the unbeaten as 3-0 Georgia Southern took a long trip to take on the 3-0 Western Michigan Broncos. The Eagles embarrassed the Broncos in Statesboro last season 43-17. This time around, Western Michigan was ready for the Eagles and sought redemption. A late game comeback attempt would not be enough for the Eagles as they would fall to the Broncos, 49-31.

Western Michigan started with the ball and the Eagles made their presence felt quickly. A big hit on first down by Chris DeLaRosa set up a three and out for the Broncos and forced the punt on the opening drive. Likewise, the Broncos challenged Ellison and the offense didn’t allow a first down to get the ball back for the WMU offense. With the ball, the Bronco offense crossed midfield on their first play with a QB run. The offense then began a march down the field with a mixture of the run and pass, capping off the drive with a five-yard touchdown run to get on the board first halfway through the opening quarter, 7-0. Upshaw checked into the game and picked up two quick first downs for his offense. Upshaw would continue to show off as he took to the air again and threw a beautiful touch pass to Wesley Fields for a 44-yard touchdown to tie up the contest. WMU took the field again on offense and continued to hold back the pass rush long enough to complete a big pass into Eagle territory.

The Broncos were already driving to start the second quarter but two penalties put them in a 1st and 25 situation but they were able to throw a 37-yard touchdown pass for their second score of the day to go up 14-7. To this point, the Eagle pass rush was completely unable to get into the backfield and gave the Bronco QB all day to throw. Georgia Southern regained possession and after a 35-yard field goal from Koo, momentum took a huge shift on the next kickoff as the Bronco returned found a seam and was able to take the ball 100 yards to the house to put his team ahead of the Eagles, 21-10. Ellison checked back into the game to try and recapture some momentum. The Broncos were able to wrestle Fields down for a six-yard loss on the first play and followed it up by blocking a pitch from Ellison and forcing a fumble then falling on it, regaining possession for their offense. WMU was held to a fourth and short on their next drive but were able to take a run inside the ten-yard line to keep the drive alive. The Broncos threw into the end zone on the next play and came up with their fourth score of the game. Ellison went back out onto the field for the Eagles and they needed to pick up some first downs to get some confidence back. They were able to do just that and with the help of a pass interference on WMU they were able to cross midfield. Upshaw then picked struck gold again with a huge pass to Campbell for an Eagle score to make it 28-17 with time winding down in the half. WMU went out with the intent to pick up some points before halftime. A 30-yard pass put the Broncos across midfield as the Broncos continued to pick up first downs. With 1:35 remaining in the half the Broncos went deep and hooked up for a 35-yard touchdown to finish out the half on the scoreboard.

After struggling through the first half the Eagles came out and looked like they had found a rhythm, picking up an early first down. However, an errant pass from Upshaw led to an interception that was returned 73 yards for the score. A three and out for the Eagles gave the ball back to WMU and they began another march down the field. Georgia Southern held tight and forced a field goal attempt that went wide left, keeping the score at 42-17. The Eagles weren’t quite out of it yet. The offense picked up a couple first downs on the legs of Ellison before he launched a pass to Crockett for his first score of the night. They were able to stall WMU on defense and took back possession, a comeback on the mind as the teams went into the fourth quarter.

Ellison took the role of the comeback kid as he worked the team down the field. They were able to break into Bronco territory and convert on a long third down to get inside the 25-yard line. After the Eagles were able to find the end zone again the Eagles were within 11 points. The Broncos weren’t able to make much of the next kickoff, taking it out to the 13-yard line. A big run from the QB gave them some breathing room but the Eagles still owned the momentum. The Broncos went into their “chew the clock” mode and slowly drained the energy from Georgia Southern by powering through a few third down situations. Western Michigan was able to slip a pass into the end zone from five yards out with two minutes left in the game to get on the scoreboard one more time. When Ellison checked into the game, he was nailed and went down with an elbow injury. With Upshaw being knocked out of the game in the first half sophomore Anthony checked into the game but his pass was picked off. The Broncos were able to run the clock almost all the way down but were forced to punt after a timeout was called by Coach Summers. The resulting possession ended in a fumble from Anthony to give the Eagles their fourth turnover and the game would end, 49-31.