Death. Taxes. Georgia Southern beating South Alabama.
Since first beginning Sun Belt play in 2014, the Eagles have never lost to the Jaguars. Many of those games have not even been close. Not even a previously winless season could change that in 2017 as the Eagles romped to a 52-0 victory while dominating every facet of the game.
Georgia Southern got things started early with a deep pass and then an LA Ramsby touchdown – his first of three on the day – to take the quick 7-0 lead. After trading punts, the Jaguars fumbled the ball away deep in their own territory and LA Ramsby made them pay on the first play of the next drive in one of the more impressive touchdown runs I’ve seen this year.
Wesley Fields would add another touchdown before the 1st quarter ended, Shai Werts added one in the 2nd quarter on a 1-yard sneak, and Tyler Bass kicked a field goal before the half ended to send the Eagles to the locker room with a 31-0 lead. Was that enough to satisfy Interim Head Coach Chad Lunsford? No. No, it was not.
The Eagles followed Coach Lunsford’s directive, scoring another three touchdowns in the 2nd half. Wesley Fields added touchdown #2 on the day for himself, and a fantastic Shai Werts pass to Malik Henry and a Henry move and dive on a 4th down inside the 10-yard line rounded out the scoring in the 3rd quarter. The Eagles had one final emotional score in them, though. 5th year senior Demarcus Godfrey picked up the first touchdown of his career on the final score of the game. The bear hug he immediately received from Ramsby and the obviously visible emotion he felt heading to the sidelines was enough to bring a tear to a glass eye. That type of play is why college football is so much fun and so special.
While the offense looked the most impressive that it has looked by far this season – rushing for 356 yards while throwing for 226 for a total of 583 yards – the defense may have looked even better. The defensive line was pressuring South Alabama’s quarterbacks all afternoon and the defensive backs flew to the ball and broke up passes while snagging two interceptions late, including one that was almost returned for 6 points. It was by far the best defensive effort of the year to go along with the offensive effort led by splitting reps between Kado Brown and Shai Werts as signal callers.
It was a special night in Paulson Stadium as the seniors who began their Georgia Southern careers during the 2014 Sun Belt title season (or 2013 if they redshirted), experienced the GoDaddy Bowl victory, and then suffered through the Tyson Summers era closed out their careers at home with a blow-out victory. They won’t have to walk away from a career that saw huge highs and sank to the lowest low in the program’s history knowing they didn’t get one final win in the confines of the Prettiest Little Stadium in America.
The performance the Eagles gave Saturday afternoon is one I would not have thought possible just a few short weeks ago. The demeanor and effort of this team from the time Chad Lunsford took over is night and day from the start of the year. If nothing else, that should be enough to earn him a hard look at removing the “Interim” from his title. More on that tomorrow, though.
For now, Georgia Southern fans can sleep a little bit easier tonight. This season has been as hard to endure as any other in the team’s history, but on a sunny mid-November Statesboro, GA Saturday Eagles fans saw a team filled with talent and potential just waiting to explode. This will go down as one of the worst seasons in the program’s history, but Saturday showed that the “rebuild” from this season may not take very long. Indeed, it may already be complete. And we have Chad Lunsford to thank for that.