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Eagles Soar Over Bears

Updated: Jul 17, 2023

On a rainy Saturday evening in Statesboro, Georgia the Morgan State Bears took on the Georgia Southern Eagles. Luckily for the fans of both teams, the weather relented and turned into a beautiful south Georgia evening. For both head coaches, it was the coaching debut at their new institutions.

Photo Courtesy of @GATATinHorn / Twitter

The Eagles received the opening kickoff and the Bears defense quickly forced a three and out after a short run and two incomplete passes. The Eagles defense forced the Bears to punt after five plays to get the ball back into the hands of Kyle Vantrease and the offense. After eight plays and forty five yards, Anthony Beck II was forced to punt again. The Bears took over inside of their own 2 yard line and gave the Eagle fans a scare, but penalties helped the Eagles force a punt after ten plays. To end the first quarter, Vantrease started the last drive of the first quarter with a couple of completions to WR Khaleb Hood and WR Jeremy Singleton to get inside of Bears territory. The first quarter ended with a score of 0-0.

The second quarter of play started with the first touchdown of the Clay Helton era as Kyle Vantrease capped a 12 play, 80 yard drive by throwing a pass to true freshman RB Omari (OJ) Arnold for his first career touchdown. The ensuing Morgan State drive started with a pass interference call on DB Derrick Canteen, but the Eagles recovered and forced a punt which was fair caught by WR Amare Jones inside the GS 20-yard line. The next drive started with a great swing pass that was called back on a holding penalty. Vantrease followed that up with two complete passes and a QB keeper to get a first down. On the next play, Vantrease was hit from behind as he threw the ball and Morgan State DB Jordan Noles intercepted the pass and returned it for a touchdown to knot the score at 7-7 with 9:42 left in the 1st half.

After a short kickoff return by the Eagles, the next drive began at the GS 28-yard line. A 7-play drive ended with an Anthony Beck II punt that was muffed by the Morgan State return man that was recovered by the Eagles LB Jeffrey Smyth inside the Bears 10-yard line. The Eagles were unable to score a touchdown, but K Alex Raynor was able to make a 20-yard field goal to make the score 10-7 with 5:33 left in the 1st half. The defense for Georgia Southern continued to give up chunk plays to Morgan State, but was able to put pressure on QB Carson Baker to force a bad throw that was intercepted by DB Tyler Bride. The Eagles were able to fully capitalize on the mistake by Morgan State as the ensuing drive ended with a beautiful diving catch by sophomore WR Derwin Burgess, Jr. from QB Kyle Vantrease. With 1:28 left in the 2nd quarter, the Eagles lead grew to 17-7. The Bears were content with the score and allowed the clock to run out after couple of shorts. The first half of football ended with the Georgia Southern Eagles leading the Morgan State Bears 17-7.

In the first half, the Eagles got off to a slow start offensively, but eventually got things rolling to score two touchdowns in the first half. The defense held the Bears offense at bay, but DB Jordan Noles was able to put points on the board for Morgan State as he intercepted a pass from QB Kyle Vantrease and returned it for a touchdown midway through the second quarter. Aside from that one mistake, the offense played well in the second quarter to lead the Eagles to a 17-7 lead going into the locker room.

First Half Statistic Leaders

Georgia Southern

Passing: Kyle Vantrease - 17/30, 195 Yards, 2 TDs, 1 INT

Rushing: Gerald Green - 7 Carries, 18 Yards

Receiving: Khaleb Hood - 4 Receptions, 42 Yards

Kicking: Alex Raynor - 1/1 FG (20-yard), 2/2 PAT

Punting: Anthony Beck II - 3 Punts, 42.3 AVG

Morgan State

Passing: Carson Baker - 4/10, 53 Yards, 0 TDs, 1 INT

Rushing: Alfonzo Graham - 7 Carries, 63 Yards

Receiving: Alfonzo Graham - 1 Reception, 27 Yards

Kicking: Beckett Leary - 0/0 FG, 1/1 PAT

Punting: Jordan Amadi - 3 Punts, 38.7 AVG

To begin the second half, K Michael Lantz kicked off to the Bears and the kick was returned to the 25-yard line. After a short run, a penalty, and a couple incomplete passes, the Eagles defense forced a punt to get the ball back in the hands of Vantrease and company. The Georgia Southern offense sputtered to a three-and-out and P Anthony Beck II punted a beautiful ball and DB Najee Thompson made an over the shoulder catch to down the ball inside the Morgan State five yard line. The defense capped off a three-and-out with a huge tackle behind the line of scrimmage by LB Todd Bradley-Glenn. The Eagles offense quickly scored as QB Kyle Vantrease threw a 46-yard touchdown to WR Khaleb Hood to push the score to 24-7 with just over ten minutes left in the 3rd quarter.

After four plays, the Bears were forced to punt the ball away again as DB Derrick Canteen cut down a receiver on 3rd and 9 to end the drive. On the ensuing drive, the Eagles quickly got into Morgan State territory after a couple quick hitters and a facemask penalty on the Bears. The drive was capped off by a 5-yard touchdown run by RB Jalen White to increase the Eagles lead to 31-7. On the Bears drive, Georgia Southern forced the Morgan state offense into a 3rd & 24 situation, but gave up a 45-yard run to RB Alfonzo Graham who crossed the 100-yard mark on the play. Another big run put the Bears into Eagles territory. A big third down stop was made by DB Marc Stampley II and the Eagles forced a turnover on downs on the next play. On 2nd & 10 of the next drive for Georgia Southern, QB Kyle Vantrease completed a pass to WR Sam Kenerson to cross the 300-yard mark. This is the first time a Georgia Southern quarterback has had 300 passing yards since 2008. At the end of the 3rd quarter, Georgia Southern maintained a 31-7 lead.

To start the 4th quarter, QB Kyle Vantrease hooked up with WR Sam Kenerson for 27 yards and the WR's seventh reception on the night. To cap off the drive, RB Jalen White broke multiple tackles and spun into the endzone for the fifth touchdown for Georgia Southern. After the PAT by K Alex Raynor, the Eagles increased the lead to 38-7 with 13:41 remaining in the game. The Bears ran out their backup QB Duce Taylor for the ensuing drive and he was quickly picked off by LB Isaac Walker. Two plays later, QB Kyle Vantrease connected with WR Jeremy Singleton on an 8-yard TD pass to increase the lead to 45-7 in favor of the Eagles. After a quick three-and-out, WR Khaleb Hood received the punt and made a few guys miss to set up the Eagles offense with great field position.

With the Eagles up by 38 points, backup QB Connor Cigelske entered the game for the Georgia Southern Eagles. A good run by RB Gerald Green along with a penalty by the Bears defense put the offense in the red zone. Offensive Coordinator Bryan Ellis continued to feed Green and he eventually capped the drive with a flip into the endzone on an 8-yard touchdown run. With 9:06 left in the game, the Eagles were up 52-7. On third down of the ensuing Morgan State drive, a pass by QB Duce Taylor went through the hands of the intended receiver, tipped by a Georgia Southern DB, and eventually intercepted by DB Jalen Denton. On the next four plays, QB Connor Cigelske handed the ball off to true freshman RB Omari Arnold who scored on a 23-yard scamper for his second touchdown of the night. This put the Eagles up 59-7 with 6:43 left in the game. With the backups in the game, the defense forced the Bears to punt the ball and took over at the GS 29-yard line with 4:54 to go. After a few plays, a punt, and a few runs to drain the clock, the final buzzer sounded with a final score of 59-7.

In the second half, Georgia Southern took over the game as expected. In the second half, the Eagles scored 42 unanswered points. The defense, led by Defensive Coordinator Will Harris, gave up zero offensive points and only 250 yards of offense. This showing has Eagle Nation excited for the what is to come. If the team that showed up in the second half tonight shows up in Lincoln, Nebraksa next week... Look out!

Statistic Leaders

Georgia Southern

Passing: Kyle Vantrease - 29/46, 367 Yards, 4 TDs, 1 INT

Rushing: Omari (OJ) Arnold - 6 Carries, 45 Yards, 1 TD

Receiving: Sam Kenerson - 7 Receptions, 99 Yards

Kicking: Alex Raynor - 1/1 FG (20-yard), 8/8 PAT

Punting: Anthony Beck II - 4 Punts, 42.8 AVG

Morgan State

Passing: Carson Baker - 10/21, 78 Yards, 0 TDs, 1 INT

Rushing: Alfonzo Graham - 14 Carries, 106 Yards

Receiving: Alfonzo Graham - 3 Reception, 29 Yards

Kicking: Beckett Leary - 0/0 FG, 1/1 PAT

Punting: Jordan Amadi - 7 Punts, 37.1 AVG

@SSN_GASouthern | 9/3/2022

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