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by Lut Williams
BCSP Special to Onnidan

ncaa_football_logoSouth Carolina State battled gamely but turnovers and miscues doomed the Bulldogs who fell 41-16 at Georgia Southern in a first round FCS playoff game in Statesboro, Ga., their third straight first-round exit.

The MEAC co-champions (9-3) surrendered two safeties, had a fumble by senior quarterback Malcolm Long returned for a score and Long threw three interceptions.

Georgia Southern held SCSU to two touchdowns, both by sophomore wideout/kick returner Lenell Elmore  one on a 90-yard second-quarter kickoff return and the other on a 58-yard reception from Long in the final period  and a Blake Erickson second-quarter field goal. The Bulldogs were able to muster just 233 yards of total offense in the game.

Conversely, GSU ran for 323 yards on a whopping 77 carries despite playing most of the game without starting quarterback Jaybo Shaw. Shaw was knocked from the game after a jarring hit on the Eagles¹ second possession of the game and did not return. Freshman Jerick McKinnon directed the Eagles¹ triple-option attack for the rest of the game leading them to their third-highest rushing total of the season. GSU threw just five passes, completing two.

Aided by the miscues, GSU controlled the ball for 41 minutes, 40 seconds of the 60-minute game.

Georgia Southern scored a touchdown on its first possession to go up 7-0, and then went up 9-0 when SCSU¹s Richard Christie fumbled the kickoff and recovered it in his own end zone for a safety. On its second possession following the safety, Long was hit by GSU¹s Brent Russell and fumbled. Josh Gebhardt picked it up and rambled 34 yards for a TD to put GSU up 16-0 with 2:26 left in the opening period.

Adrian Mora¹s 32-yard field goal early in the second quarter put GSU up 19-0. On the succeeding kickoff, Elmore got the Bulldogs on the board with a 90-yard kickoff return. Erickson¹s PAT cut the lead to 19-7 with 11:50 left before the half. Erickson brought the Bulldogs within 19-10 when he connected on a 21-yard field goal with 6:31 left.

In SCSU¹s final possession of the half, Long would drive the Bulldogs into GSU territory before he threw his first pick.

GSU opened the third quarter by driving for a 23-yard Mora field goal to lead 22-10. Mora later added a 45-yarder to extend the lead to 25-10. On the kickoff following the second field goal, GSU went up 27-10 as Elmore fumbled and recovered it in his own end zone for GSU¹s second safety.

Getting the ball back after the safety, GSU drove 61 yards in 11 plays to score on a one-yard run by J. J. Wilcox and lead 34-10 after Mora¹s PAT with 9:20 left in the final period. On the second play following the kickoff, Long threw his third pick of the day giving the ball to GSU at the SCSU 19. Five plays later, GSU scored from the one to lead 41-10 with 6:06 left.

On the second play following the kickoff, Long hooked up with Elmore on the 58-yard scoring play. But it was too little, too late.

In his final game, Long completed 11 of 24 passes for 161 yards, one touchdown and three interceptions. Tyler McDonald hauled in six of his passes for 71 yards. Elmore had three receptions for 69 yards. Devin Wherry led the SCSU ground attack with 57 yards on four carries. Wherry had a big 54-yard run that led to Erickson¹s second-quarter field goal.


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