Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Georgia Southern: 2015 GoDaddy Bowl Champions

The third quarter did not go Bowling Green's way in Wednesday's GoDaddy Bowl.

The Falcons headed into halftime with a 27-23 lead over Georgia Southern. When the third quarter was over, Georgia Southern had a 44-27 lead on the way to a 58-27 win.

Bowling Green had the ball three times in the quarter. The first, after Georgia Southern took the lead 30-27, ended on a failed fourth down conversion in Eagle territory. On the very next play, GSU quarterback Favian Upshaw sprinted 80 yards for a touchdown.

On the next drive, BGSU quarterback Matt Johnson fumbled as he went to throw. Another Georgia Southern TD made it 44-27. Then, with less than a minute remaining in the third, Johnson dropped the ball again as he faked a handoff.

The fumbles were likely a product of a wet football from the driving rainstorms in Mobile, Alabama, that plagued the game. But it's of no consolation to Johnson, who was one of the most productive quarterbacks in college football in 2015. After racking up nearly 300 yards in the first half, Bowling Green had 70 in the second.

Upshaw, a redshirt junior, didn't start. But he had four touchdowns on 12 carries for 199 yards and his performance sets up an intriguing quarterback competition for 2015. Both he and starter Kevin Ellison will be redshirt seniors. Incoming coach Tyson Summers has said the Eagles will retain the option offense that now-Tulane coach Willie Fritz installed at the school. He could do far worse in looking for a leader for it.

Before the game got out of hand in the third quarter, the first half was all sorts of fun. Bowling Green's first touchdown came when Johnson ad-libbed a broken play on 4th and 1 and found Roger Lewis behind the defense for a 45-yard touchdown. The PAT after the score was blocked and Georgia Southern returned it for a 9-6 lead.

Ellison provided some magic of his own later in the half. He scrambled out of the pocket and to his left on a 4th and 5 play and heaved a 31-yard touchdown pass to Montay Crockett for a 23-20 lead.

The bowl win comes in Georgia Southern's second season at the FBS level and in its first season of bowl eligibility. The Eagles are the second such team to do so this season. Fellow Sun Belt Conference member Appalachian State won the Camellia Bowl in its first bowl game (and second season in FBS) on Saturday.
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