STATESBORO, Ga. — Georgia Southern unleashed its triple option on another defenseless foe Saturday afternoon at Paulson Stadium.
The third-seeded Eagles scored on five of their first six possessions and knocked off Maine 35-23 in the quarterfinals of the Football Championship Subdivision playoffs.
Georgia Southern (11-2) will play at North Dakota State, a 24-0 winner over Lehigh in the semifinals, either Friday or Saturday.
Last season, Georgia Southern lost in the semis to Delaware, but its added offense prowess is bringing added optimism to go even deeper in the postseason this season.
“We’re going to do our best to take the next steps,” Georgia Southern center William Maxwell said.
Georgia Southern’s first step begins with the option offense – a three-pronged attack that rolled up 476 yards Saturday, 360 on the ground.
Eagles quarterback Jaybo Shaw ran for two touchdowns and threw for another.
Slotback J.J. Wilcox, who had seen limited action during the second half of the season because of a concussion and a knee injury, returned to run for 99 yards and two scores.
Freshman wide receiver Kentrellis Showers caught a 25-yard touchdown pass from Shaw.
“They know what they’re doing out there,” admitted Maine linebacker Vinson Givans. “It seems like they always have one more guy than you have.”
And Georgia Southern’s defense looked sturdier than a week earlier when it surrendered 48 points against Old Dominion.
Freshman Jerick McKinnon, who moved from slotback and reserve quarterback to safety last week, picked off two passes.
Right from the opening kickoff, Maine was in trouble. The kick sailed out of bounds, allowing Georgia Southern to start from the 40. Seven plays later, Shaw dove in from the 2 to make it 7-0.
On the Black Bears second play, McKinnon intercepted Warren Smith and Georgia Southern embarked on another 13-play, 8-minute drive that ended in Wilcox’s 2-yard touchdown.
After the first quarter, Georgia Southern had a 166-2 advantage in total yardage after having the ball for more than 14 minutes.