Georgia Southern must travel for next playoff game

STATESBORO, Ga. — Geor­gia Southern is halfway to where it wants to be.

Georgia Southern quarterback Jaybo Shaw ran the triple-option offense effectively Saturday, helping the Eagles return to the FCS semifinals.  STEPHEN MORTON/ASSOCIATED PRESS
STEPHEN MORTON/ASSOCIATED PRESS
Georgia Southern quarterback Jaybo Shaw ran the triple-option offense effectively Saturday, helping the Eagles return to the FCS semifinals.

To get past the third obstacle, the Eagles will have to
go halfway across the country.

Georgia Southern’s offense again ran all over a Colonial Athletic Association opponent and played improved defense to defeat Maine 35-23 on Saturday. Now, the Eagles will head to Fargo, N.D., for a Football Championship Subdivision semifinal contest with North Dakota State.

The game will be held Saturday at 2:30 p.m. and be televised on ESPNU.

Sam Houston State will be the host for the other semifinal game against Montana on Friday night at 8. The winners will play for the title in Frisco, Texas, on Jan. 7.

Georgia Southern is the only team still in the field that advanced to the semifinals last season.

“We did that because we had a passionate team that was fighting for respect,” Eagles coach Jeff Monken said Sunday. “But we had nothing to show for last year, so coming into this season there were still things to accomplish. Now we have an opportunity in this tournament to compete against the best teams in this country.”

Monken said his team has gotten better as the season goes on, but that it still has room for improvement.

The Southern Conference champions had one of their most-penalized games of the season Saturday, committing 12 infractions for 93 yards. The Eagles had season-highs with 13 penalties for 120 yards against Western Caro­lina.

“Penalties give the appearance that you’re undisciplined, and we pride ourselves in being disciplined,” Monken said. “We overcame the penalties (Saturday), but those are the types of things that can beat you.”

He said there were positive aspects of the Eagles’ play Saturday, starting with the defense.

Nose guard Brent Russell was a force in the middle. De­fensive back Jerick Mc­Kin­non, a converted quarterback/slotback, had two interceptions and two quarterback hurries. Outside linebacker Darius Eubanks, a former Thomson standout, had a solid outing against Maine’s highly touted tight end Justin Perillo.

After allowing 45 and 48 points in consecutive outings against Alabama and Old Dominion, the defense surrendered only 16 points against the Black Bears.
One of Saturday’s touchdowns came on a kickoff return.

Meanwhile, the offense continued to roll. Maine was able to effectively clog the middle, holding freshman fullback Dominique Swope to 81 yards. Swope had been averaging 191 yards a game since being inserted into the starting lineup three games ago.

But in the triple-option offense, if one phase is slowed down, another might be open.

Quarterback Jaybo Shaw engineered the Eagles’ outside game effectively. Slot­backs averaged more than nine yards a carry. Shaw also completed 7 of 8 passes for 116 yards and a touchdown. Five of his seven completions picked up first downs.

“I think our guys played hard and gave great effort, and that’s what you want at this time of the year,” Monken said.

FCS PLAYOFFS

WHAT: Georgia Southern (11-2, 7-1 Southern Conference) at North Dakota State (12-1, 8-0 Missouri Valley Conference)

WHERE: Fargodome, Fargo, N.D.

WHEN: Saturday, 2:30 p.m.

TV: ESPNU

ONLINE: Follow the Eagles by reading Donald Heath’s blogs on savannahnow.com/sports and his updates on Twitter at twitter.com/DonaldHeath SMN.

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jross1981
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jross1981 12/13/11 - 02:24 pm
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GO EAGLES!!! Why doesn't the

GO EAGLES!!!

Why doesn't the Chronicle have a section devoted to it on GSU like they do ASU, GT, UGA, USC, and Clemson? There's an alumni presence here and it's within the same distances as all the schools I listed.

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