McKinnon Leads GSU on Special Day
By BJ Bennett
Follow us at Twitter.com/SouthernPigskin. Become a fan at the SouthernPigskin.com Facebook Page
Georgia Southern won their ninth game of the year, secured a spot in the FCS quarterfinals and avenged a 34-31 overtime loss to the Bears from 2006.
On a day where Georgia Southern honored their former legendary head football coach, one of their current star players stepped right on to the big stage. Georgia Southern, after advancing to the FCS semifinals in each of the past two years, opened their 2012 postseason run with a 24-16 triumph over previously 9-2 Central Arkansas. The Eagles honored Erk Russell with a remarkable bronze statue and were led by 316 yards rushing from quarterback Jerick McKinnon.
Georgia Southern won their ninth game of the year, secured a spot in the FCS quarterfinals and avenged a 34-31 overtime loss to the Bears from the 2006 regular season.
McKinnon rushed 34 times times for 316 yards and two touchdowns, adding 79 yards passing and a score through the air. He paced a Georgia Southern offense that compiled 404 yards rushing at over six yards per carry and controlled 38 minutes of the time of possession.
The performance stands as one of the most dominant in Southern Conference postseason history.
"He was phenomenal," explained former GSU quarterback Jayson Foster,the 2007 Walter Payton Award winner. "Every time we needed a big play he delivered. He was the catalyst behind a great performance for Georgia Southern. And doing what he did in a playoff game speaks volumes about his preparation and conditioning. And it shows how prepared the coaching staff was for the looks that Central Arkansas showed."
On day one of the playoffs for the Eagles, the Georgia Southern program paid special homage the College Football Hall of Famer Russell. Included in his depiction, a tattered t-shirt with the iconic phrase "just one more time" and a jug of water from famed Eagle Creek. The bronze figure welcomed fans through the front gates into Paulson Stadium.
With the win, Georgia Southern is now 44-12 all-time in the playoffs, a staggering 33-3 at home. The Eagles will next face 11-1 Old Dominion from the Colonial Athletic Association. The Monarchs crushed Coastal Carolina 63-35.
On a day where the Eagles took time to reflect on their great past, McKinnon and Georgia Southern did what they needed to do to ensure their near future.