Sun Belt Week 8 Recap- Georgia Southern @ Old Dominion

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Photo Cred: Georgia Southern University Athletics

Another day, another close matchup for the Eagles. Another game against a tough opponent, another win! In my Week 8 Sun Belt Conference recap, I did not name this my game of the week, something that I have since come to regret. It’s safe to say now that it takes the crown as the game of the week! I will say that the decision was a close one, though. I thought a high-profile matchup between two top Sun Belt teams based in Alabama would be better than it turned out to be. Old Dominion (ODU) was 2-0 in the conference but 3-3 overall, while Georgia Southern (GASO) still wasn’t as dominant (4-3 overall, 1-2 conference) as they look now. Let’s take a look at how things went!

Photo Cred: ESPN

Much Ado About Nothing

At first glance, the first quarter score doesn’t seem too appetizing. A 7-3 GASO lead. It wouldn’t be an overreaction to call this a slow start. Both kickers struggled early, with GASO K Alex Raynor missing a 42-yarder and ODU K Ethan Sanchez missing an easier 23-yarder. ODU followed a GASO punt by putting the first points on the board. This time, Sanchez connected on a 44-yarder. In the closing minutes of the first quarter, a pass interference call on ODU CB Tobias Harris gave GASO QB Kyle Vantrease just enough time to hit WR Amare Jones with a 29-yard TD.

Photo Cred: Georgia Southern University Athletics

You Have Feel for Old Dominion

I say that because the Monarchs got into Eagles territory on all five of their drives. However, they only had three points to show for it. On their first second-quarter drive, ODU could not convert a 4th-and-10 at the GASO 35-yard line. Sanchez then missed another FG attempt, this time from 24 yards… Very unlucky! After the Eagles scored yet another TD in the waning seconds of a quarter, the Monarchs could only get to the GASO 34-yard line in the nine remaining seconds.

Photo Cred: Savannah Morning News

Meanwhile, the Eagles got lucky again due to a penalty that extended a drive. This time, ODU DE Deeve Harris got called for roughing the passer, which resulted in a four-yard rushing TD by GASO RB Jalen White. I know it looks pretty ho-hum now, a 14-3 game led by GASO, but the second half was sure to promise more action. Sit tight, things will get interesting soon enough!

All the Action in One Quarter

Yes, it really did feel that way. Eight drives total which resulted in 20 points scored. There was a slight momentum shift here favoring the Monarchs. Regardless, the Eagles still held on. Continuing its trend of getting into GASO territory, ODU QB Hayden Wolff connected with WR Ali Jennings III for a 22-yard score to get within four points. The Eagles weren’t going away anywhere, responding with a 30-yard rushing TD of their own.

Photo Cred: 13News Now

After two punts, ODU tried to amp up the pressure. Sanchez got a 35-yard FG through to make it an eight-point game, and their special teams rallied to get to GASO P Anthony Beck II. A bad snap meant Beck II couldn’t punt, and they got a nine-yard loss on the play. Sanchez kicking a 33-yard FG now made this a 21-16 game, even though GASO was still leading. The Eagles took their fourth third-quarter drive into the fourth.

Time to Finish Things Off

That last drive resulted in a TD, GASO’s final one of the day. RB Gerald Green got his second rushing score of the day, this time for three yards. Both teams took their time in the fourth, which resulted in only four drives. This includes the last GASO third-quarter drive that went into the fourth, but not the victory formation kneel-down at the end. Except for ODU’s final drive, every one took at least four minutes and 41 seconds.

Photo Cred: Savannah Morning News

Following GASO taking the lead to 28-16, ODU RB Blake Watson got a two-yard rushing TD of his own. The Eagles then drove to the ODU 27-yard line but came up empty-handed. White got stuffed for a two-yard loss on a fourth-and-one. This, however, set GASO’s defense up well. With 32 seconds remaining in the game, the Monarchs needed to go 71 yards down the field. A TD was needed to win this game, as the score was 28-23. GASO DL LJ McCloud and LB Jalen Jackson combined for a four-yard sack on the first play. Two Wolff incompletions followed, and then Watson was only able to get a five-yard catch on a fourth-and-14 play.

Notable Parts of the Game

  • What a way for Homecoming to be ruined… ODU was getting back to Norfolk, VA after a dominant win against a previously undefeated Coastal Carolina. They were on a high, thinking that this would be the turning point of the season. Maybe they could shift into second gear and keep their unblemished conference record intact. Oh, how it was not meant to be…
  • There were only two drives all game where ODU could not get into GASO territory. Unfortunately, one of them occurred when it mattered the most: 32 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter.
  • Missed points and other missed opportunities… These hurt the Monarchs more, though the Eagles weren’t unscathed either.
    • ODU had two missed FGs, which would’ve won them the game.
    • They turned the ball over on downs twice, once in GASO territory.
    • The two missed FGs occurred on GASO’s six and seven-yard lines. Imagine what two TDs here would’ve done!
    • ODU couldn’t cash in as much as they wanted to this game. The 33-yard FG happened at the GASO 16-yard line, another missed TD opportunity.
    • As for GASO, the early missed FG could’ve hurt them but didn’t as much. They also turned the ball over on downs late into the fourth quarter, thus giving ODU a chance to get back in the game.
    • GASO having a bad snap on a punt deep in their territory gave ODU a big chance to take over.
  • ODU QB D.J. Mack Jr. had three plays where he recorded statistics of some sort. He had a rush for five yards and went 0/2 passing. He was not as successful this week.
  • GASO WRs Khaleb Hood (seven) and Jeremy Singleton (six) had more receptions than Jones.
  • A good passing game (313 yds, one TD) from the Monarchs wasn’t enough to overcome the rushing attack (223 yds, three TDs) from GASO. Definitely a massive improvement for the Eagles, who only had 12 yards rushing last week.
  • The Eagles’ only scores were a TD a quarter!
  • Today wasn’t much of a defensive effort with only one sack from the Eagles and nothing else. White fumbled the ball on a handoff from Vantrease in the first drive of the first quarter, but the Eagles recovered it.
  • ODU may have outgained GASO 446 yards to 415 but they were dominated on time of possession (25:27 to 34:33).
  • Not much in terms of penalties today. Three for GASO and five for ODU for a combined 80 yards lost.
  • GASO did much better on downs today, with 25 first downs and 8/15 third downs converted. Meanwhile, ODU only had 18 and 3/12 respectively. Both teams went 1/3 on fourth downs.

Photo Cred: Savannah Morning News                      Photo Cred: ESPN

Statistical Leaders

Offense

Passing– GASO QB Kyle Vantrease (22/27, 192 yds, one TD), ODU QB Hayden Wolff (23/40, 313 yds, one TD).

Rushing– GASO RB Jalen White (30 rushes, 138 yds, one TD), GASO RB Gerald Green (12 rushes, 91 yards, two TDs), ODU RB Blake Watson (16 rushes, 108 yds, one TD).

Had to mention Green’s multiple TDs.

Receiving– GASO WR Amare Jones (five rec, 54 yds, one TD), ODU WR Ali Jennings III (nine rec, 130 yds, one TD).

Defense

TKs/TFLs/PDs/QB HURs

GASO: DB Wylan Free (10 TKs), DL LJ McCloud (one TFL, five TKs), DB NaJee Thompson (three PDs, three TKs), DL Da’Shawn Davis (one QB HUR).

ODU: LB Jason Henderson (21 TKs, one TFL), S R’Tarriun Johnson (one TFL, nine TKs), S Colten Hicks (one TFL, one TK), S Robert Kennedy III (one PD, five TKs), CB LaMareon James (one PD, one TK), S Shawn Asbury II (one QB HUR).

SKs/INTs/FFs/FRs/TDs– GASO DL McCloud (0.5 SK), GASO LB Jalen Jackson (0.5 SK, one TK, 0.5 TFL).

Notable Special Teams

ODU CB/KR LaMareon James (one return, 38 yards, 38 LONG).

Nothing notable in special teams happened this week. Raynor got all his XPs but could not make his only FG attempt. None of the GASO returners nor the punter (Beck II) did anything noticeable, at least not positively. Beck II did get tackled for a loss fielding a bad snap on a punt. Sanchez missing two FGs, from close range at that, is why I am not listing his name here, even though he did bring in nine of ODU’s 23 points. James did well in his only KRet opportunity.

Next Games:

a) Georgia Southern: Off.

b) Old Dominion: @ Georgia State on October 29th at 3:00 PM ET.

Photo Cred: ESPN

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