Story and photo courtesy of Georgia Southern Athletics
STATESBORO, Ga. – Dominique Swope rushed 25 times for 137 yards and two scores to lead No. 7 Georgia Southern to a 17-9 Southern Conference football victory over No. 4 Wofford Saturday night at Paulson Stadium.
The sophomore logged five carries for 64 yards in a nine-play, 84-yard, game-clinching drive midway through the fourth quarter that put the Eagles ahead 17-6 and took the wind out of the Terrier sails.
After Wofford punted to the GSU 16-yard line, Swope rattled off a 25-yard run, carrying about five tacklers on his back for the final 10 markers, to start the drive. He ran 17 yards on the next play to move the ball into Wofford territory, and capped the drive with a 3-yard touchdown run up the middle. It was Swope's seventh straight game with a rushing touchdown.
Wofford put together a 62-yard drive on its next possession, but on 3rd-and-goal from the GSU 8-yard line, John Stevenson tackled Michael Weimer short of the goal on a quarterback keeper. With all three timeouts remaining, the Terriers elected to take a field goal, and Christian Reed made good from 23 yards, his third of the day, cutting the margin to 17-9 with 3:38 to play.
The Eagles moved the ball down to the Wofford 46-yard line, converting a 3rd-and-6 with a Jerick McKinnon quarterback keeper and causing the Terriers to burn all their timeouts. GSU elected to go for it on 4th-and-1 with 32 seconds left, and Swope rushed for two yards to put the game away.
McKinnon finished with 84 yards on 16 carries for the Eagles (5-1, 4-1 SoCon), and the GSU defense held the Terriers to 248 yards, 65 of which came on an Eric Breitenstein run in the first quarter. Stevenson and Blake Riley finished with 11 tackles to lead the team.
"I couldn't be more proud of our team than I am tonight," said Georgia Southern head coach Jeff Monken. "Our defense played a fantastic football game, and there was one play in the entire game, the long trap play, and our guys did a great job running it down, tackling him and holding them to three points. The thing that was so impressive about our football team and why I'm so proud of them is that there were things that happened in the game that could have gotten them down, but they just kept fighting and gave great effort. You have to play that way."
Breitenstein led the Terriers (5-1, 3-1 SoCon) with 102 yards on 13 carries.
The Eagles did not attempt a pass in the contest, an NCAA FCS record, and finished with zero passing yards for the eighth time in school history, all Georgia Southern wins.
Things got off to a rocky start for the Eagles as they fumbled on the opening drive of the game, giving the Terriers the ball at the GSU 28-yardline. The defense held for three plays but jumped offsides on a fourth-down field-goal try, giving Wofford a first down.
Then on 2nd-and-7, the Eagles were flagged for pass interference, moving the ball down to the 2-yard line. The Eagle defense took over from there, holding the Terriers out of the end zone on three straight running plays, and Wofford settled for a 19-yard field goal by Reed.
Breitenstein rattled off his 65-yard run near the end of the first quarter to give the Terriers 1st-and-10 at the GSU 12-yard line. The Eagle defense came up big again, stopping three straight runs, and Wofford settled for another Reed field goal, this time from 30 yards out.
The Eagles got on the board 3:08 into the second quarter on a 48-yard field goal by Alex Hanks, a career long for the freshman. McKinnon set up the score with a 33-yard run.
GSU took its first lead of the game just before halftime thanks to excellent field position set up after a Darreion Robinson 37-yard punt return that gave GSU the ball on the Terrier 29-yard line. Swope moved the ball 16 yards on three carries, and McKinnon took it down to the Wofford 4, where Swope plunged in with 46 seconds left. Hanks added the extra point, and the Eagles led 10-6 at the break.
The Eagles open a two-game road swing at Furman next Saturday. Kickoff is slated for 1:30 p.m.