Fourth Ranked Georgia Southern Narrowly Escapes The Citadel, 14-12
Statesboro, Ga. – The Citadel gained 239 yards on the ground, including two rushing touchdowns in the first half, but a pair of missed PATs proved to be the difference as (4/4) Georgia Southern escaped with the 14-12 victory in front of 18,408 at Paulson Stadium.
At the 4:22 mark of the fourth quarter, and the game in the balance, The Citadel drove 61 yards on 14 plays and set up placekicker Ryan Sellers with an opportunity to give the Dogs a one-point win. However with 13 seconds remaining in the game, Sellers' kick sailed wide right of the upright and secured the two-point victory for Georgia Southern.
On the opening kickoff, The Citadel took advantage of a 51-yard kickoff return by Kevin Hardy, his second-longest of the season, and after a horse-collar penalty, the Dogs set up at the Eagles' 31-yard line. On the second play from scrimmage, Darien Robinson broke through the right side of the line for a 27-yard touchdown run. Georgia Southern responded by blocking the point-after-attempt by Sellers, making for the early 6-0 Citadel lead.
Georgia Southern quickly rebounded on the ensuing possession, when Jaybo Shaw found Darreion Robinson behind the Bulldogs coverage, resulting in a 63-yard touchdown completion. After a successful Adrian Mora PAT, the Eagles took a 7-6 advantage on the scoreboard.
With the Eagles driving late in the first quarter, Jerick McKinnon coughed up the ball at the Dogs 13-yard line, which was recovered by the Bulldogs' Quintin Turner. The Citadel sustained a 17-play, 82-yard drive that took 8:51 off the clock, capped off by a two-yard touchdown run by Aaron Miller. The Cadets were again denied on the PAT attempt, but still held a 12-7 lead.
After an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty helped set up Georgia Southern at their own 48-yard line, a series of Robert Brown rushes pushed the ball into Citadel territory. It was there that Nico Hickey took over, with back-to-back carries totaling 24 yards, putting the Eagles at the 14-yard line. Hickey found daylight in the right corner of the end zone and following a key Mora PAT, Georgia Southern regained the lead 14-12.
With Miller still under center, the Dogs got the ball for a fourth possession and moved the ball 22 yards in five plays, before GSU forced a punt on fourth-and-three. Cass Couey responded with a 27-yard punt that pinned the Eagles at their own 12-yard line. A fumble recovery for a loss of four yards moved the Eagles to the eight-yard line and Georgia Southern ran out the remaining time left on the clock and took the two-point lead into the halftime break.
Georgia Southern received the opening kickoff of the second half and took the ball 70 yards in 13 plays, only to come up short when a Shaw fumble at the one-yard line was recovered by Turner. The Citadel managed only seven yards, before a 44-yard punt by Couey gave the Eagles the ball at their own 48.
On the third play of the Eagles' drive, another Shaw miscue allowed Brandon McCladdie to notch his second interception of the season, returning the ball 21 yards to the Georgia Southern 48-yard line.
The Citadel moved the ball to the GSU 25 where they were stopped on a third-and-16. With Sellers on to attempt a 43-yard field goal, the Eagles called timeout and the Bulldogs answered with a pooch kick that pinned GSU inside their own 10-yard line with 12:53 remaining in the game.
The Bulldogs defense stood tough again, forcing Georgia Southern to punt with 9:33 remaining in the game, setting up the Dogs' offense at their own 37-yard line. A pitch to Hardy resulted in a 25-yard gain, but an interception by Miller gave the ball back to the Eagles at their own 38.
Georgia Southern responded with their second-longest drive of the afternoon, 55 yards on 11 plays, before an incomplete pass by Shaw on third down forced a punt.
In what proved to be the final Citadel drive, the Dogs marched 61 yards, highlighted by a 13-yard gain from Rickey Anderson and a 10-yard pickup by Miller. After taking their final timeout of the game, the Bulldogs looked to Sellers for a 37-yard field goal that was carried wide right by the stiff winds that continued throughout the game.
The Citadel amassed 264 yards of total offense, including 239 on the ground. Robinson gained 92 rushing yards and a score, while Miller added 80 yards and a touchdown as well. Carl Robinson and fellow linebacker Rod Harland led the defensive unit with nine tackles each, while Turner anchored the front line with a pair of fumble recoveries.
Georgia Southern totaled 320 yards of offense, including 191 on the ground. Brown racked up 90 yards on 17 carries, while Hickey tallied 41 yards on six carries, including a touchdown. Shaw connected on 4-of-7 passing attempts for 129 yards, including a 63-yard strike to Robinson on the first GSU possession. Deion Stanley recorded a game-high 13 tackles (11 solo) to lead the Eagles defense.
The Citadel stands at 4-5 overall, 2-5 in the Southern Conference, while Georgia Southern improved to 8-1, 6-1. The Bulldogs host their final game of the 2011 season against Samford next weekend at 3 p.m. at Johnson Hagood Stadium in Charleston, S.C. For more information on Bulldog Football, visit the official website of The Citadel Athletics at www.CitadelSports.com or follow the Dogs on Facebook and Twitter at facebook.com/citadelsports and twitter.com/citadelfootball.