Originally created 10/01/00

Eagles trounce VMI



STATESBORO, Ga. -- Georgia Southern arrived at Paulson Stadium on Saturday with a potent offensive arsenal, prepared to engage outmatched enemy Virginia Military Institute.

The second-ranked Eagles forced a surrender early and buried the Keydets 56-3 before 13,794 fans.

"When you execute well and you're faster, it's not good (for the opponent)," Georgia Southern coach Paul Johnson said.

The Eagles' main executioner, Adrian Peterson, tied a school record with five touchdowns, including four on the ground, in less than three quarters. Along the way, the junior broke the Division I-AA career touchdown record of 60 set by New Hampshire's Jerry Azumah. Peterson now has 63.

Peterson also boosted his career rushing-yardage total to 6,092 yards, breaking the Southern Conference record of 5,931 set by Chris Parker, who finished at Marshall in 1995. Peterson had 184 yards on 25 carries Saturday.

The junior running back was helped by quarterback J.R. Revere, who completed 5 of 6 passes for 114 yards and two touchdowns. Slotbacks Mark Myers and Andre Weathers who averaged more than 10 yards per carry.

The Eagles also got a boost from its defense, which allowed only a VMI record 57-yard field goal on the final play of the game.

Georgia Southern (4-1, 3-0 Southern Conference) has had two straight performances where its multifaceted big-play game pulverized unprepared opponents.

"Looking at the tapes, I thought maybe (Georgia Southern) wasn't as good without all the players they had from last year," Keydet coach Cal McCombs said. "But they have such a sound program; they don't rebuild, they reload. ... It's a nice old day in Statesboro for Georgia Southern football. It's a long bus ride back to Lexington for VMI."

Southern's nice old day began with a 42-0 advantage at halftime. The Eagles scored on all five of their offensive possessions and one of VMI's possessions.

The Eagles had a 21-0 lead before the Keydets posted their second first down of the game.

Peterson capped a 12-play, 80-yard drive with a 1-yard touchdown run to make it 7-0.

Then Revere connected on a 42-yard strike to Derrick Owens and a 31-yarder to Chris Johnson to make it 14-0.

Peterson capped GSU's third possession with a 29-yard touchdown run, and cornerback Lavar Rainey returned an interception 47 yards, bringing the score to 28-0 less than two minutes into the second quarter.

"Everything has just been clicking lately," Eagles linebacker Jason Neese said. "At the beginning, I think we just had some trouble adapting to some of the changes we made."

In the past two weeks, the Eagles used a nickel pass defense to slow down throwing teams. Southern finished with three interceptions.

The Eagles also took advantage of the absence of Keydets' starting quarterback Joey Gibson, who was hospitalized during the week because of a collapsed lung.

Without Gibson, who was averaging more than 200 passing yards a game, VMI managed only 183 offensive yards.

It was a disappointing setback for the Keydets (0-5, 0-3), who played competitively in a 35-21 loss to sixth-ranked Furman a week ago.

The Eagles never let VMI in the game. On a third-and-11 from the 20, Peterson made a one-handed catch on an inside screen pass in traffic and went 20 yards for his third touchdown to make it 35-0.

Peterson's 8-yard TD run less than four minutes later made it 42-0.

Peterson added an 8-yard scoring run in the third quarter, and backup quarterback Melvin Cox dove in from the 1 in the fourth quarter to finish Georgia Southern's scoring.

"For the last three seasons, we've gotten better as the season goes along," Johnson said. "We have a system and go over it over and over. It's tough not to get better."