Published November 20, 2014
Freshman Dominique Swope ground out 255 of 48, in the second round of the FCS playoffs Saturday.
The third-seeded Eagles (10-2) overcame ODU quarterback Taylor Heinicke's 416 total yards and six total touchdowns in advancing to the quarterfinals next weekend, when they will host another CAA Football squad, Maine (9-3), which won at Appalachian State on Saturday.
The win was the Southern Conference champion's 42nd all-time in the playoffs, a FCS record.
Coach Jeff Monken's Eagles survived a late scare by the relentless Heinicke, who threw for 341 yards and five touchdowns and rushed for 75 yards and one touchdown. The true freshman's 20-yard scoring run with 39 seconds left pulled ODU (10-3) within 55-48.
But ODU was penalized for illegal touching on an ensuing onside kick, which gave the Eagles the ball at the Monarchs' 39, and they ran out the remainder of the clock.
The back-and-forth game before 13,226 at Allen E. Paulson Stadium featured the 103 points and 1,167 yards of total offense - 607 for Georgia Southern and 560 for ODU. Each of the game's first 11 scoring drives went for at least 66 yards.
Georgia Southern, behind its vaunted triple option, entered the first-ever meeting between the teams ranked second in the FCS with 318.7 rushing yards per game. Swope finished his career-high total on 31 carries.
Georgia Southern took the lead for good 41-35 on Nico Hickey's 13-yard touchdown run with 3:45 left in third quarter, capping a 14-play, 76-yard drive that ate up nearly eight minutes of game clock.
Adrian Mora's extra point attempt was blocked by ODU defensive tackle Erik Saylor, ending his FCS record streak of extra points at 151.
But the Eagles, who had yet to own more than a one-touchdown lead, were about to get breathing room.
Both teams traded turnovers, with Lavelle Westbrooks' recovery and 27-yard return of a Nick Mayers fumble setting up Georgia Southern at the ODU 32 with 13:26 left in the fourth quarter.
The Eagles needed only four plays to score on quarterback Jaybo Shaw's one- yard sneak with 8:15 left. Swope then ran in the two-point conversion to push their lead to 49-35.
ODU countered with a 1-minute, 10-second touchdown drive, scoring on Heinicke's final touchdown pass, a 19-yarder to Prentice Gill with 6:21 left. But Jarod Brown's extra point attempt was blocked by Jared Gebhardt, which maintained Georgia Southern's lead at 49-41.
ODU's attempt of an onside kick was recovered by Georgia Southern, which set the Eagles up at the Monarchs' 31. On their ensuing drive, Swope fumbled just outside the ODU goal line, but Hickey recovered the ball in the end zone for his second touchdown of the game to lift the Eagles to 55-41 lead with 2:03 left. Mora's rare bad luck continued when he missed the extra point.
The Monarchs responded with a nine-play drive that Heinicke capped with his TD run with 39 seconds left, pulling the CAA Football squad within 55-48.
Heinicke, who threw for five touchdowns in a first-round win over Norfolk State last Saturday, finished 25-for-44.
The game was a wild point-fest. After a 28-28 first half, Swope took a pitch around left end and went 76 yards for a touchdown on the first play of the third quarter, putting the Eagles in front 35-28.
But ODU came right back on its opening drive to score on Heinicke's 8-yard touchdown pass to Larry Pinkard with 11:47 remaining in the third quarter.
The two teams traded touchdowns throughout the first half.
After stopping ODU on the game's opening drive, Georgia Southern went ahead 7-0 on its first drive when Shaw scored from one yard out with 8:38 remaining in the first quarter.
The Monarchs countered on their next drive with Angus Harper's two-yard touchdown run at the 6:13 mark, which tied the game at 7-7.
Georgia Southern went back in front 14-7 on Swope's two-yard run with 1:06 remaining in the quarter. But ODU answered right back on its next drive to tie the game 14-14. Heinicke threw a two-yard touchdown pass to Reid Evans with 13:34 left in the second quarter.
Georgia Southern then capped the next drive with a Darreion Robinson 11- yard touchdown run with 8:37 left, pushing the Eagles' advantage to 21-14.
ODU needed only three plays to tie the game again, this time on Heinicke's 44- yard touchdown pass to Gill, which made it 21-21 with 7:28 remaining in the first half.
Georgia Southern then took a 28-21 lead, grinding out yardage on the ground before Shaw connected downfield with Kentrellis Showers for a 24-yard touchdown with 2:22 left.
Sure enough, ODU came back to tie the game 28-28 by halftime. The Monarchs only passed the ball on an eight-play drive, with Heinicke finishing it off with a 47-yard scoring strike to Antonio Vaughn with 26 seconds remaining.
ODU's Chad King had a game-high 10 tackles and forced a fumble in the loss.