It couldn’t have been a better day for football. The sky was blue and the clouds were sparse as the Eagles faced an old foe, the Citadel Bulldogs, in Paulson Stadium. After a big night for the Eagles they were able to take the victory, 48-13.
After kicking off, the Eagles forced a third down conversion from Citadel. The Bulldog quarterback dropped back and released, but the ball was tipped by a defender and Eagle defensive lineman Ross Alexander grabbed the ball out of the air and dragged the would-be tackler five yards before going down.
Eagle quarterback Kevin Ellison trotted onto the field for the first time this season but was unable to get anything going inside the ten yard line. Head coach Willie Fritz settled for a 22 yard field goal from Alex Hanks. Citadel needed a big drive to keep the game from slipping away.
The Bulldogs picked up a first down on the ensuing drive and seemed to be moving the ball. On the next set of downs a Citadel receiver failed to catch a pass on fourth down and gave possession back to the Eagles. Ellison returned to the field, this time determined to put one into the end zone.
The next drive was a long one for the Eagles but it served to completely wear down the Citadel defense. On three separate occasions the home team converted on fourth down. Senior receiver Ryan Longoria also grabbed four passes on a 16 play, 55 yard drive that culminated in a 1 yard touchdown plunge from Ellison. The drive took up over 7:00 and sucked the air out of their opponents and they led 10-0.
Citadel was forced to a quick three and out and the offense went out on the field again to start the second quarter. Eagle running back Wesley Fields made his presence felt with a 25 yard run to put his team into enemy territory. The drive was ended by a 25 yard touchdown run from Matt Breida, and it wouldn’t be his last.
The Bulldogs tried to rally once again on their next possession but were forced to punt the ball away at midfield and pinned the Eagles back at their own 13 yard line. Breida struck lightening on the first play of the drive as he tore through the line and took the ball 87 yards for his second score of the game. Eagles led 24-0 with 12:35 left in the first half.
Things only got worse for the Bulldogs as their next drive ended in an interception at midfield. The Eagles then worked the ball the rest of the way on the back of running back L.A. Ramsby and Ellison before the quarterback took the ball in for another score from 9 yards out.
Citadel began a positive drive again and were picking up huge chunks of yards. The drive was again cut short abruptly when the Bulldog fullback fumbled the ball into the Eagle secondary and redshirt senior corner Riyahd Jones scooped it up for his defense. Neither team would put up a score for the remainder of the half.
The first drive of the half stalled for Georgia Southern after Derrick Keaton caught a pass behind the line of scrimmage to save it for being a fumble was taken down for a loss of 14. The Citadel was able to take advantage of their halftime adjustments as their fullback ripped through the middle of the line for a 60 yard touchdown run, cutting the lead to 31-7 Bulldogs.
After taking over from their own 25 yard line, the Eagles marched down the field again with help from all aspects of their offense. Ellison threw up a dead duck inside the red zone after being brought down hard in the backfield. He left the game but would later return. On fourth down from the six yard line Ramsby weaved through defenders and picked up his first score of the night. The Eagles would pick up three more points on the following drive after a fumble recovered by Antonio Glover allowed them to take a 41-7 lead with five minutes remaining in the third quarter.
Neither team could do much with the ball as the Eagles ran out the clock moving into the fourth quarter. The Eagles found a rhythm on their next drive and worked the ball down the field largely due to the running of Fields. Fields would end the drive with taking a direct snap and running in a touchdown from two yards out.
With most of the starters from both teams out of the game, the Eagles took over once again. On a heartbreaking play, backup running back Chaz Thornton broke free on his first carry for 67 yards before fumbling the ball into the end zone for a touchback and giving The Citadel the ball.
On their penultimate drive the Bulldogs drove all the way down the field on a 75 yard drive and managed to punch in a second touchdown. A failed two-point conversion made it a 48-13 game with 4:11 remaining. Georgia Southern failed to convert a third down and punted back to the Citadel. The Bulldogs ran fumbled while trying to run out the clock, letting the Eagles kneel down and take the game 48-13.
The Eagles enter conference play next week as they take a long trip to face off against the Idaho Vandals, in Moscow, ID.