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  • Eagle Miscues, Mistakes and Missed Kicks lead to loss at The Citadel, 21-23
    (Photo by Casey Jones / WJCL) - Used with Permission

    Charleston, S.C. - Senior kicker Thomas Warren knocked home a 37-yard field goal with 35.5 seconds left in the game to lift The Citadel to a 23-21 Southern Conference football victory over No. 3 Georgia Southern in the league opener for both teams at Johnson Hagood Stadium Saturday night.

    The Eagles (1-1, 0-1 SoCon) had a chance to win the game as time ran off the clock, but after a high snap, Ryan Nowicki's 31-yard field goal try went wide left. The play was set up thanks to a 53-yard kickoff return by J.J. Wilcox.

    Warren hit three field goals in the game for the Bulldogs (2-0, 1-0 SoCon). GSU's missed try was their second of the game as they had one blocked before halftime, and the Eagles had five fumbles in the contest, losing two. After rushing for 211 yards in the first half, GSU was held to 96 in the second frame by The Citadel.

    "I thought our kids were ready to play, excited to play, motivated to play and played with good effort," said Georgia Southern head coach Jeff Monken. "But we missed assignments, we missed tackles, we didn't sustain blocks, we fumbled the ball, we kicked the ball out of bounds twice and we can't line up and kick a field goal. It was a calamity of errors. But as poorly as we played, I felt like we gave ourselves a chance to win the football game and we didn't get it done. We'll learn from it, put it behind us and prepare for the next one."

    Dominique Swope rushed for 129 yards and a touchdown to lead the Eagles, his fifth career game with 100-plus yards, and Ezayi Youyoute ran for 101 yards and a score.
    Ben Dupree led The Citadel with 92 rushing yards and threw for 26 and a touchdown. Aaron Miller threw for 59 yards, including 28 on the game-winning drive.

    The game had a number of twists and turns, with many coming inside the final five minutes.
    Youyoute gave Georgia Southern a 21-20 lead, it's first of the game, on a 1-yard run with 3:13 left in the game. That scoring drive was keyed by a 7-yard pickup by Jerick McKinnon on 4th-and-6 inside Bulldog territory on a crazy play.

    McKinnon took the handoff and went to pitch to Jonathan Bryant, but a Citadel defender batted the ball in the air and McKinnon got it back. The junior pivoted, went left and was able to pick up the first down to keep the drive alive.

    The Citadel had to convert two fourth downs on their ensuing drive to set up what would become the game-winning field goal. The Eagles were flagged for pass interference on 4th-and-3 early in the drive. Then facing 4th-and-15 after two tackles for loss by Eagle defensive lineman Brent Russell , Miller hit Greg Adams for a 20-yard completion down to the GSU 28-yard line.

    A pair of early Georgia Southern fumbles gave the Bulldogs a short field, and The Citadel took advantage of the miscues by scoring touchdowns on both possessions to take a 14-0 lead midway through the first quarter.

    The first score came on 4th-and-2 from the GSU 19-yard line, when Rickey Anderson took the handoff and went around the right side for a touchdown. The second score came on 3rd-and-7, as Dupree avoided a good pass rush and hit Domonic Jones on the right side line. The receiver shrugged off a tackle and went down the sideline for a 26-yard touchdown.

    The Eagles got their offense going on their next possession with a methodical 11 play, 65-yard scoring drive that ate up most of the rest of the first quarter. Youyoute keyed the drive with 23-yard run, and McKinnon capped it with an 8-yard touchdown run. Nowicki kicked the extra point, trimming the lead to 14-7 at the end of the first quarter.

    Swope capped a 12-play, 75-yard drive that took 6:51 with a 2-yard touchdown run, and Nowicki added the point after to tie the score 14-14 midway through the second quarter. Swope logged 46 yards on the ground during the drive.

    Warren dropped in a 42-yard field goal to put the Bulldogs back on top 17-14 with 2:39 left in the first half. Miller hit Van Dyke Jones with a 26-yard pass over the middle to the GSU 43-yard line to key the drive.

    Georgia Southern drove down into Bulldog territory to set up a 31-yard field goal try for Nowicki late in the second quarter, but Jones jumped up and got his paws on it near the line of scrimmage for the block, leaving the margin at 17-14 at halftime.

    Dupree carried five times for 38 yards on the Bulldogs' second possession of the second half, and Warren nailed a 39-yard field goal to tack on another three points and open a 20-14 lead with 2:22 left in the third.

    The Eagles have an off week before hosting Elon and Samford in consecutive SoCon games, beginning Sept. 22, against the Phoenix. Kickoff is set for 6 p.m. at Paulson Stadium.