Ga. Southern football notebook: Eagles’ penalty turns momentum in Bulldogs’ favor

Sounds funny to say one play mattered exponentially in Georgia Southern’s 45-14 loss to fifth-ranked Georgia on Saturday afternoon in Sanford Stadium.

But one play seemed to change the momentum 180 degrees.

Just before the half, the Eagles were driving with a chance to take the lead.

They trailed 10-7, but on a fourth-and-one from the Georgia 7-yard line, a handoff to fullback Dominique Swope gained 2 yards for the first down.

But officials whistled Southern’s guard Trevor McBurnett for a chop block. The 15-yard penalty negated the first down.

Alex Hanks missed a 39-yard field goal, and Georgia drove 78 yards in 63 seconds to take a 17-7 lead.

“Honestly I don’t know,” McBurnett said. “On that play (nose guard) John (Jenkins) came toward me and I scooped him just like it’s legal in the rule book. If the ref called it, you have to live with it.”

McBurnett said the Eagles’ center Manrey Saint-Amour was already past the line of scrimmage so the block wasn’t a two-on-one.

During game week there had been a lot of talk about Georgia Southern’s blocking in its triple-option scheme.

GSU coach Jeff Monken was so concerned he met with the referee and the umpire before the game to watch film on a similar block in a game involving Georgia Tech.

Monken said the officials agreed the block on the film was legal.

“I don’t know what happened,” Monken said. “I didn’t see the play. I didn’t look up (at the scoreboard) to see the replay. My blood was already boiling at that point and I let the officials have it.

“Obviously, they saw something that they thought was illegal. I don’t know. I tell our guys all the time, you have to overcome things like that. You can’t count on the officials to get every call right. … You have to make enough plays, so you can eliminate all those “what ifs” and we didn’t do that today.”

FBS futility

Georgia Southern fell to 0-20 against full-fledged teams from the Football Bowl Subdivision.

School from the FBS play with 85 scholarship players. Football Championship Subdivision teams have 63 scholarships distributed among 85 players.

The Eagles defeated Florida International 53-32 in 2004, but FIU was in transition to play in FBS.

Southern is 0-3 against FBS teams during Monken’s coaching reign. The Eagles lost to Navy 13-7 in 2010 and Alabama 45-21 last season.

Russell starts

GSU’s All-America defensive tackle Brent Russell started the game and finished with three tackles.

Russell was suspended after getting arrested Nov. 4 for disorderly conduct and obstruction of a law officer at a campus bar in Statesboro.

Russell played in the 2008 season-opening Georgia Southern-Georgia game but suffered a knee injury

Healed Eagles

Fullback Dominique Swope and free safety Darius Eubanks were back in the Eagles’ starting lineup after sitting out a week ago against Howard.

Swope had missed two straight weeks with a concussion. Eubanks had a bruised shoulder and missed just one week.

Swope finished with 92 yards on 17 carries but failed to score a touchdown, snapping a nine-game streak with at least one touchdown.

SoCon champs

Georgia Southern captured the Southern Conference’s automatic bid to the FCS playoffs by virtue of The Citadel’s 42-20 victory over Furman.

GSU, Wofford and Appalachian State finished in a three-way tie for first place in league standings with 6-2 records. Each team went 1-1 against the other two first-place teams.

Next up

Georgia Southern will find out its first-round opponent in the Football Championship Subdivision playoffs today. An NCAA selection show will be televised today at 1:30 p.m. on ESPNU.

By the numbers: Richt vs. Dooley, Bryant, Saban, Miles and Spurrier

by Chris White

Last week’s look at Mark Richt’s career at Georgia (found here) led to a few readers asking for some deeper insight into how the coach’s numbers... Full Story

Follow marcweiszer

marcweiszer

RT @Panthers: The #Panthers have signed G Fernando Velasco and C Kevin Matthews: http://t.co/ToaZ4q6PYn http://t.co/IYL3Q8xkoq

9 hours ago