Originally created 10/25/98

Eagles explode in 2nd half



CHARLESTON, S.C. -- One way to silence the cannons at Johnson Hagood Stadium is to load up your own artillery. And for Georgia Southern, handing the ball to Adrian Peterson is as good as pulling the trigger of a nuclear weapon.

Georgia Southern pointed Peterson and fired. And the confederate soldiers who allegedly were buried underneath the stadium called the Boneyard probably rolled in their graves.

Peterson had 196 yards and five touchdowns -- in the second half -- as top-ranked Georgia Southern rallied for a 51-34 victory over The Citadel on Saturday.

The 5-foot-9, 207-pound freshman finished with 231 yards and sparked a comeback as the Eagles roared from a 17-point second-half deficit. The Bulldogs were hit right between the eyes in an 18-minute, 40-second pounding. The Eagles outscored The Citadel 41-7 after falling behind 27-10 midway through the third quarter.

"It was just do or die," Peterson said.

So this is what Peterson did.

--Set the GSU single-season rushing record (now 1,421 yards) with his fourth 200-yard game of his eight-game career.

--Tied the school record of five touchdowns in a game set by Gerald Harris in 1986.

--Tied a Division I-AA record of eight straight 100-yard games by a freshman, set by Eastern Kentucky's Markus Thomas in 1989.

--Broke Earnest Thompson's record of touchdowns in a season. Peterson now has 20, two more than Thompson.

--Broke Randy Moss's I-AA freshman record of 19 touchdowns in a season in 1996.

"Randy, who?" asked Peterson.

That might be the question asked when Peterson finishes his freshman regular season in three games. The Citadel found out the hard way what seven previous fallen victims learned.

"There is a reason Georgia Southern is ranked No. 1 in the nation," said Citadel coach Don Powers. "And they showed it in the second half.

Peterson began his jaunt to the end zone with 4:57 left in the third quarter. And when he finished, he had scored on runs of 1, 2, 21, 51 and 1 yard.

Southern's 44 second-half points were a school record. The Eagles produced 411 yards while scoring on all seven possessions after a halftime tribute to military appreciation.

And the cannon blasts that were set off after Citadel scores slowed considerably as the Eagle defense held the Bulldogs to 98 yards after intermission.

"I think this shows the character of this team," said Georgia Southern quarterback Greg Hill. "Teams welcome you in their stadium when you're No. 1. The Citadel was up for the game and I don't blame them. I would be too."

Georgia Southern (8-0, 6-0 Southern Conference) earned the No. 1 ranking last week when it moved up a spot after beating Appalachian State and top-ranked McNeese State lost.

The Bulldogs (3-5, 3-3) shot their entire arsenal at the Eagles. They faked a field goal, snapped directly to a running back and tried several reverses. Everything seemed to work.

But when you have an A-bomb in Peterson, flesh wounds hardly seem to matter.

"(Peterson) is going to do his part," said Eagles coach Paul Johnson. "When you reach out with an arm, you aren't going to bring him down. ... He looks like he plays so effortlessly."

Peterson started the comeback with a 1-yard touchdown run less than three minutes after the Bulldogs had faked a punt and scored a touchdown on a pass from punter Stan McGill to Maurice Drayton.

And with 19 seconds left in the third quarter, Peterson scored again on a 2-yard run, capping a seven-play, 76-yard march.

The Citadel regained a 10-point advantage, 34-24 with 13:31 left on Stanley Myers' third touchdown pass -- a 13-yarder to Deon Jackson.

But Georgia Southern finished in a flurry. Peterson scored on a 21-yard run and, after a fired-up GSU defense pushed the Bulldogs backward, he scored again on a 51-yard run to put Southern into the lead (38-34) for the first time.

The jinx of the Boneyard was falling apart. Southern's 0-2 record here was becoming a historical footnote.

Hill added another score with 2:53 left and Peterson ended it with a 1-yard run with 1:17 left.

Although The Citadel never threw out a white flag, its defense had enough of Peterson.

"The coaches talked to us at halftime (when Southern trailed 20-7)," said Eagles defensive end Eric Davis. "We're the No. 1 team in the nation and to fall short would have been disappointing."

Myers had two touchdown passes in the first half as The Citadel shot to a 20-7 advantage. The Bulldogs held a 173-67 advantage in total yardage after the first 30 minutes.

But the Eagles countered with a second half to remember.

"We really dodged a bullet," Hill said.