After two years of waiting, fans of Georgia Southern and Arkansas State finally got the Sun Belt matchup they’ve been waiting for. It lived up to expectations in coming down to the wire and being a very close game. It just didn’t happen in quite the way many would expect.
Arkansas State opened with a good drive before fumbling inside the Georgia Southern 20. The Eagles failed to score, but after a punt, the Red Wolves fumbled again on their very next offensive play. Arkansas State turned the ball over three times in the First Quarter, but Georgia Southern failed to capitalize on any of them.
The Eagles finally got on the board in the first quarter thanks to a big run by LA Ramsby who finally found a hole and took it to the house for a 61 yard touchdown run.
The teams traded field goals in the second quarter before Arkansas State tied the game up with a touchdown pass from Justice Hansen to Justin McKinnis. The Eagles regained the lead on a career long 53 yard field goal from Younghoe Koo to take the 13-10 halftime lead.
Georgia Southern came out of the half with a dominating 9 minute drive that stalled in the red zone and ended in a field goal. After holding to the Red Wolves to a three-and-out, the Eagles got another big touchdown play with a short dump-off pass to Myles Campbell that turned into a sideline tight-roping 66 yard scoring play and the Eagles seemed poised to finally put the Red Wolves away.
It wasn’t to be, though, as Arkansas State continued fighting back and holding the Georgia Southern offense to minimal plays. They picked up a big touchdown run of their own from Warren Wand that brought them back within 6 points again. Georgia Southern added a field goal early in the 4th to stretch the lead, but Arkansas State did the same to keep it within one score with plenty of time left on the clock.
Arkansas State’s defense did an excellent job of shutting down the Georgia Southern rushing attack all night, and the Eagles could not get the yards they needed to run out the clock. They turned the ball back over to the Red Wolves with just under five minutes left in the game, but the Eagles were able to force the turnover on downs. The lack of anything resembling blocking by the Eagles and an attacking Arkansas State defense ensured the Red Wolves got the ball back with plenty of time left to play with 2:49 left on the clock and only trailing by 6 points.
On Arkansas State’s next possession, the Eagles’ defense stepped up in a big way on the first three downs, but then let Justice Hansen escape on 4th and 16 to convert the 1st down and keep the Red Wolves alive. The Eagles’ defense was able to make some stops, but the Red Wolves continued to get key big plays to move the ball into Eagle territory, including a deep pass to Kendall Sanders to get inside the Eagles’ 10 with 14 seconds to play. The Red Wolves then converted on a fade route for the go-ahead touchdown and their first lead of the night with 9 seconds remaining.
For Arkansas State, this is a big deal to jump-start their Sun Belt conference schedule. For Georgia Southern, it’s a heartbreaking loss for a team to lead the entire game to the last seconds. However, when you only get 6 points on 5 turnovers, it’s hard to argue that you did anything to deserve a win.
Arkansas State moves to 1-4 on the season, 1-0 in the Sun Belt. Their next game will be at home next Saturday against South Alabama. Georgia Southern is now 3-2 and 2-1 in the Sun Belt. They’ll travel to Atlanta next Saturday to take on Georgia Tech in Atlanta.