Nov 6, 2021; Provo, Utah, USA; Brigham Young Cougars head coach Kalani Sitake enters the field prior to their game against the Idaho State Bengals at LaVell Edwards Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeffrey Swinger-USA TODAY Sports

No. 14 BYU scores 20 unanswered to beat Georgia Southern

Jaren Hall threw for 312 yards and two touchdowns to lead No. 14 BYU to a 34-17 victory over host Georgia Southern on Saturday in Statesboro, Ga.

Hall had his fourth career 300-yard game to help the Cougars win their fourth straight game. Tyler Allgeier added 136 yards rushing and a touchdown on the ground for his 11th career 100-yard game.

BYU (9-2) totaled 510 yards and averaged 7.5 yards per play. The Cougars did not punt for the first time until late in the third quarter.

Connor Cigelske threw for 122 yards for the Eagles in his first career start. Georgia Southern (3-8) came up short in its upset bid after committing back-to-back second-half turnovers.

BYU marched down the field with ease on each of its first two drives.

The Cougars totaled 159 yards in only 17 plays and carved out a 14-3 lead. Lopini Katoa put BYU on the board with a 5-yard run and Puka Nacua hauled in a 5-yard pass to give the Cougars their second touchdown. Three of Hall’s completions before halftime went for 40 yards or longer.

Georgia Southern kept things close in the second quarter. The Eagles scored touchdowns on back-to-back drives to go ahead 17-14. Logan Wright ran for both touchdowns, scoring from three yards out on the first one and covering 11 yards on the second.

BYU went ahead 20-17 before halftime on a pair of field goals from Jake Oldroyd, who connected from 39 yards and 38.

The Cougars regained a double-digit advantage at 27-17 when Allgeier punched the ball in from a yard out to cap off BYU’s opening drive of the second half.

Georgia Southern could not answer. Jakob Robinson snagged interceptions on back-to-back drives to keep the Eagles from drawing any closer. BYU cashed in the second takeaway, scoring on a 29-yard catch by Nacua to extend its lead to 34-17 with 10:38 remaining.

–Field Level Media

Nov 6, 2021; Provo, Utah, USA; Brigham Young Cougars running back Tyler Allgeier (25), defensive lineman Uriah Leiataua (58), defensive lineman Earl Tuioti-Mariner (91) wide receiver Samson Nacua (45) get together after their win over the Idaho State Bengals for senior day at LaVell Edwards Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeffrey Swinger-USA TODAY Sports

No. 14 BYU makes rare trek to Georgia Southern

Rising in the one poll that matters could be setting BYU up for an at-large spot in a New Year’s Six Bowl. But only if the No. 14 Cougars take care of business the rest of the way.

At 8-2, the Cougars make a rare trek on Saturday to Statesboro, Ga., where they will face Georgia Southern for the first time.

BYU has beaten five Power 5 opponents this season to build the resume of a NY6 bowl candidate if they finish in the Top 10.

BYU can only go one step at a time. This week, that means not tripping up against the Eagles (3-7) who snapped a four-game losing streak with a 38-30 victory over Texas State.

The Cougars are coming off a bye week following a 59-14 victory over Idaho State in their home finale. BYU enters Saturday’s game carrying a three-game winning streak.

“The approach last week was to stay on top of everything,” BYU coach Kalani Sitake said. “We didn’t take a complete week off. We didn’t take total rest, but we are rested.”

BYU is seemingly hitting its stride on offense at the right time.

The Cougars are averaging 647.0 yards and 62.5 points per game over their last two games. They are generated 8.1 yards per play during that stretch.

Tyler Allgeier and Jaren Hall have been the catalysts behind that offensive surge. Hall has thrown for 1,995 yards and 16 touchdowns in eight games. Allgeier has rushed for 1,167 yards in 10 games and leads the nation with 17 rushing touchdowns.

Sitake credits mentally tough players enduring a two-game losing streak and finding ways to elevate their performance on both sides of the ball.

“Our players are always looking to get better,” Sitake said. “They can be hard on themselves. I try to help them focus on improvement rather being embarrassed about the loss. We want to improve and get better.”

Georgia Southern got back into the win column behind strong special teams play. The Eagles returned a blocked punt for a touchdown and then blocked a field goal to set up another touchdown – a 25-yard strike from Justin Tomlin to Beau Johnson that put Georgia Southern ahead for good at 31-24.

Tomlin threw for 108 yards and a touchdown in relief of Cam Ransom after Ransom injured his shoulder early in the second half. Ransom totaled 121 passing yards and one touchdown before going down with an AC sprain.

“I thought Cam came in and did exactly what we thought he would do,” Interim coach Kevin Whitley told the Statesboro Herald. “He had a lot of energy and threw the ball extremely well. When he went down, I was holding my breath because I could see on his face he was in pain. I thought Justin came in and did a great job.”

Georgia Southern is the fourth Sun Belt opponent BYU has played in the last two seasons. The Cougars went 2-1 against Sun Belt teams in 2020, beating Texas State and Troy at home and losing to Coastal Carolina on the road.

–Field Level Media

Oct 20, 2021; Boone, North Carolina, USA; Coastal Carolina Chanticleers head coach Jamey Chadwell (left) talks with an official before the game against the Appalachian State Mountaineers at Kidd Brewer Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

Once-beaten No. 21 Coastal Carolina meets Georgia Southern

An aggressive mindset is important for No. 21 Coastal Carolina.

The Chanticleers verified that with some key plays in their most recent game, a 35-28 victory over Troy last week. They want to continue that as they hit the road for the first time since their only loss, which came Oct. 20 vs. Appalachian State, 30-27.

Coastal Carolina will play Georgia Southern on Saturday night in Statesboro, Ga.

“You’re trying to show people that if you put your mind together for a common purpose,” good things can happen, Coastal Carolina coach Jamey Chadwell said.

So Coastal Carolina (7-1, 3-1 Sun Belt) could be back on track for the final month of the season.

Chadwell said it was important for the team to play with more freedom to alleviate pressure that might have been brewing with an undefeated record.

“You control what you can control,” Chanticleers quarterback Grayson McCall said. “We just try to get better every day.”

Georgia Southern (2-6, 1-4) could use a boost of confidence. The Eagles have lost three games in a row — most recently giving up a touchdown in the final minute of a 21-14 loss to Georgia State.

The Eagles have gone through a coaching change and on-field struggles. They’re determined to make something positive of the season.

“The overall vibe in the locker room is pretty much like it was Week 1,” safety Justin Birdsong said. “Just ready to play and do everything we can get in the swing of things.”

Interim coach Kevin Whitley said the Eagles need to stay the course.

“Greatness comes at a cost,” he said. “I want guys who love football. Guys who put the extra work in to be successful.”

On Tuesday, the program announced it has hired Clay Helton as its next permanent head coach. He reportedly will begin working behind the scenes while Whitley remains the on-field coach the remainder of the season.

Meanwhile, the Chanticleers have shaken off the sting of their defeat to Appalachian State.

“We were hurting after that loss,” Chadwell said. “Some of the swag, some of the confidence was a challenge.”

So now they’re in the process of building that back. Coastal Carolina still can win the East Division and land a spot in the Sun Belt Conference championship game, but another Appalachian State loss would be required for that to happen. In the meantime, the Chanticleers must uphold their part by winning the rest of their games.

The Chanticleers didn’t run up another huge point total, but efficiency counted for something in the Troy game. They were 10 of 17 on third-down conversions.

“We definitely have some stuff to work on,” McCall said.

Jaivon Heiligh is coming off his 10th career 100-yard receiving game, setting a program record. Shermari Jones has rushed for two touchdowns in three different games this season.

The big-play capability has been on display for the Chanticleers. They have eight touchdown plays of 50 or more yards in their past three games.

Georgia Southern leads the series 5-2, though Coastal Carolina won 28-14 last year at home.

This is Coastal Carolina’s lone road assignment in an upcoming three-game stretch. The Chanticleers have played midweek games in their last three outings.

The only previous ranked opponent to visit Paulson Stadium — at the Football Bowl Subdivision level — was Appalachian State in 2018. The Eagles pulled the upset that day for one of two victories against Top 25 FBS teams in 21 all-time matchups.

For Georgia Southern, this could begin a three-game stretch with two Top 25 opponents because in two weeks there’s a visit to Brigham Young, currently ranked No. 15.

–Field Level Media

Jul 27, 2021; Hollywood, CA, USA; Southern California Trojans head coach Clay Helton speaks with the media during the Pac-12 football Media Day at the W Hollywood. Mandatory Credit: Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports

Report: Georgia Southern expected to name Clay Helton head coach

Georgia Southern is expected to hire Clay Helton as its next head coach, Yahoo Sports reported Tuesday.

Southern California fired Helton, 49, on Sept. 13 after the Trojans got off to a 1-1 start. He had a 46-24 record as the interim and head coach over parts of eight seasons in Los Angeles.

Georgia Southern, a member of the Sun Belt Conference, fired Chad Lunsford on Sept. 26 four games into the season. The Eagles were 1-3 at the time.

Yahoo said the deal with Helton could be finalized this week. He would start immediately performing behind-the-scenes duties, such as recruiting and building a staff for 2022. Interim coach Kevin Whitley would remain as the on-field coach for the rest of the season.

The Eagles are 2-6 (1-4 Sun Belt) on the season and have lost three straight.

Georgia Southern is in its eighth season as an FBS school and has a 52-44 record in that span. As a Division I-AA (FCS) school, it won six national titles, most recently in 2000.

At USC, Helton’s teams posted records of 10-3 in 2016 and 11-3 in 2017. However, the Trojans were just 19-14 since the end of the 2017 season at the time Helton was replaced.

–Field Level Media

Sep 18, 2021; Fayetteville, Arkansas, USA; Georgia Southern Eagles head coach Chad Lunsford during the second quarter against the Arkansas Razorbacks at Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports

Report: Georgia Southern fires coach Chad Lunsford

Georgia Southern parted ways with football coach Chad Lunsford after a 1-3 start, according to multiple reports on Sunday.

The Eagles dropped their third consecutive game on Saturday night, falling 28-20 to visiting Louisiana in their Sun Belt Conference opener in Statesboro, Ga.

Lunsford, 44, took over midway through the 2017 season and posted a 28-21 record with three bowl appearances.

Georgia Southern is expected to conduct a national search for a replacement, per the report. It is the third vacancy this season in college football, following Connecticut and Southern California.

–Field Level Media

Sep 18, 2021; Fayetteville, Arkansas, USA; Arkansas Razorbacks quarterback KJ Jefferson (1) passes in the second quarter as Georgia Southern Eagles linebacker Reid Dedman (39) defends at Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports

KJ Jefferson tosses 3 TDs as No. 20 Arkansas beats Ga. Southern

KJ Jefferson threw for 366 yards and three touchdowns to lead the No. 20 Arkansas Razorbacks to a 45-10 victory over visiting Georgia Southern in a nonconference game Saturday in Fayetteville, Ark.

Dominique Johnson rushed for a team-high 72 yards and touchdown on five carries as Arkansas (3-0) ran for 269 yards on 48 carries — an average of 5.6 yards per attempt — and rolled up 633 yards of total offense.

Jefferson, who went 13-for-23 passing, highlighted his day by throwing a 91-yard touchdown pass to Treylon Burks in the third quarter. It ranked only behind Matt Jones’ 92-yard scoring strike to Richard Smith against Tennessee in 2002 in the school’s record book.

Arkansas took control on its first possession en route to its first 3-0 start in five years.

After a 47-yard pass from Jefferson to Tyson Morris pushed the pass to the Eagles’ 21 yard-line, Smith capped the drive three plays later by scoring on a 13-yard run for a 7-0 lead less than three minutes into the game.

Arkansas doubled its lead on its next possession, when Dominique Johnson capped a 15-play, 94-yard drive with an 11-yard touchdown run with 3:31 left in the opening quarter.

After Morris caught 14-yard touchdown pass from Jefferson for a 21-0 lead with 8:42 left in second quarter, the Eagles (1-2) finally broke through on their next possession behind redshirt junior quarterback Justin Tomlin.

Tomlin kept the ball on a 3rd down play and cut to his right before outrunning the entire defense for a 76-yard touchdown with 7:22 left in the first half.

Tomlin finished 11-of-23 passing for 65 yards and ran for a team-high 65 yards and a score on 10 carries.

Arkansas needed just four plays to find the end zone to open the second half, as Jefferson connected with De’Vion Warren streaking down the sideline for a 60-yard touchdown and a 31-10 lead.

Jefferson threw his third touchdown pass of the game when he hit Burks for a 91-yard touchdown pass with 11:18 left in the third quarter.

Malik Hornsby pushed the lead to 45-10 with a six-yard touchdown run with 8:22 left in the game.

–Field Level Media

Sep 11, 2021; Fayetteville, Arkansas, USA; Arkansas Razorbacks running back Trelon Smith (22) celebrates after scoring a touchdown against the Texas Longhorns in the second half at Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium. Arkansas won 40-21. Mandatory Credit: Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports

No. 20 Arkansas plots power display vs. Georgia Southern

No. 20 Arkansas welcomes Georgia Southern this week while getting familiar with its surroundings among college football’s elite.

The Razorbacks, who look to improve to 3-0 for the first time since 2016, catapulted into the Top 25 with a dominant showing against No. 15 Texas last week.

Georgia Southern arrives for a nonconference game on Saturday in Fayetteville, Ark., with a run-first — and run-second — mentality.

The Razorbacks were impressive against the Longhorns, grabbing a 16-0 lead at the half and pushing their advantage to 33-7 in the third quarter.

Arkansas plans to do to against Georgia Southern exactly what it did to the Longhorns: run the ball. Arkansas had 47 rushing attempts last week and produced a whopping 7.1 yards per attempt. The Razorbacks rolled up 471 yards of total offense against the Longhorns.

Arkansas is ranked among the top 20 teams in the country for the first time since September 2016.

Four Razorbacks rushed for at least 50 yards, led by running back Trelon Smith’s game-high 75 yards and a touchdown on 12 carries, just ahead of quarterback KJ Jefferson, who ran for 73 yards on 10 carries, while AJ Green (seven carries, 67 yards, TD) and Raheim Sanders (eight carries, 50 yards, TD) also found plenty of room to run against Texas.

Jefferson also was an efficient 14-for-19 passing for 138 yards and an interception.

Arkansas held Texas to just 256 yards of total offense, including 138 rushing yards on 41 carries, an average of just 3.4 yards a carry.

The victory resonated for coach Sam Pittman and Razorback fans stormed the field to revel in the team’s first victory over a top-15 team since 2016. But Pittman remains cautious against Georgia Southern.

“We have proven we can have success and then flush it the next week,” Pittman told reporters. “South Georgia kids are tough. They’re a little bit like us.”

In two games this season, Arkansas has rushed for 578 yards and eight touchdowns on 91 carries for an average of 6.4 yards per attempt.

Georgia Southern, a member of the Sun Belt Conference, is coming off a 38-6 loss at Florida Atlantic in a game in which the Owls scored 38 straight points after the Eagles took a 6-0 lead after the first quarter.

Georgia Southern gave up 332 yards and four touchdowns through the air and another 197 yards on the ground against Florida Atlantic.

Georgia Southern freshman quarterback Cam Ransom was 12-for-21 passing for 98 yards and ran for 42 more. Backup quarterback Sam Kenerson added 35 yards rushing and 20 yards passing, but he also threw an interception. No other Eagles player rushed for more than 30 yards and the team’s leading receiver, Khaleb Hood, had six catches for 55 yards.

The Eagles, who beat Louisiana Tech, 38-3, in the R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl last year, are looking to avoid starting 1-2 for the second time in three seasons.

The Eagles could receive a boost with the return of redshirt junior quarterback Justin Tomlin, who was suspended for the first two games because of academic issues. Tomlin, who was named the starter Saturday, threw for 161 yards with no touchdowns and three interceptions in seven games last season, in addition to rushing for 197 yards and a touchdown on 38 carries.

“I’m really disappointed with our start to the season and I feel we should be a lot better and a lot further along and we haven’t played Georgia Southern football,” Eagles coach Chad Lunsford told reporters. “We have to go back to the drawing board and do some soul searching. This is a great week to do it because we have a great SEC opponent in Arkansas.”

–Field Level Media

Dec 12, 2020; Fort Worth, Texas, USA; Louisiana Tech Bulldogs quarterback Luke Anthony (9) suffers a leg injury while being sacked by TCU Horned Frogs defensive end Dylan Horton (98) during the second half at Amon G. Carter Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Louisiana Tech to battle Georgia Southern in New Orleans Bowl

A winning record and a bowl winning streak are on the line for Louisiana Tech this week.

The Bulldogs (5-4) take on Georgia Southern (7-5) in Wednesday’s New Orleans Bowl at the Superdome in New Orleans.

Louisiana Tech’s six-game bowl winning streak is the longest active mark for any team in the country.

The Bulldogs’ bowl streak includes winning the 2015 New Orleans Bowl in their only previous appearance in the event.

“We were there five years ago, and our players and fans had a great experience,” coach Skip Holtz said.

This will be Georgia Southern’s fourth bowl since rising from the Football Championship Subdivision in 2014. The Eagles won postseason games in 2015 and 2018 before falling last year.

The teams will meet for the first time.

“This year has been like no other, and this bowl game is a reward for our players, staff and fans,” Georgia Southern coach Chad Lunsford said. “We look forward to playing one more game in 2020.”

Holtz goes for a milestone victory. His career record is 149-111, including 61-40 in eight seasons with the Bulldogs.

Louisiana Tech, which posted the third-best winning percentage in Conference USA’s West Division, had four games postponed or cancelled in November. After a 33-day layoff, the Bulldogs won 42-31 at North Texas and lost 52-10 at TCU in games this month.

Georgia Southern lost three of its final four games — with each setback by eight points or less. That included a 28-27 setback at Army. The Eagles also have a two-point defeat at nationally ranked Louisiana.

The Eagles tied for third place in the Sun Belt Conference’s East Division. They had the league’s top rushing offense, gaining 262.5 yards per game and the second-best overall defense, allowing 333.5 yards per game.

The status of Georgia Southern quarterback Justin Tomlin could be in question because he departed the Dec. 12 regular-season finale against Appalachian State with a second-quarter injury after rushing for 76 yards in the game.

Miller Mosley, who’s considered the team’s third-string quarterback, threw for a touchdown and two interceptions after replacing Tomlin.

Shai Werts was the regular Georgia Southern quarterback for 10 games, but he missed the last two games with a shoulder injury.

Louisiana Tech has had Luke Anthony as its starting quarterback for the past eight games.

The conclusion of the regular season was also rough for Louisiana Tech with the meltdown at Texas Christian. That included a season-high 67 penalty yards.

“It was a very uncharacteristic performance, and sometimes you get into these games and think you’ll do well, but you press and you make some uncharacteristic mistakes,” Holtz said.

A Sun Belt Conference team won the New Orleans Bowl in each of the past three seasons.

–Field Level Media

Sep 12, 2020; Lawrence, Kansas, USA; Coastal Carolina Chanticleers running back CJ Marable (1) runs past Kansas Jayhawks linebacker Dru Prox (40) and  linebacker Denzel Feaster (18) at David Booth Kansas Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports

No. 25 Coastal Carolina debuts in Top 25 vs. Georgia Southern

For No. 25 Coastal Carolina, one first preceded another.

A 30-27 Sun Belt Conference win on Oct. 14 at then-No. 21 Louisiana was the Chanticleers’ first victory over a Top 25 foe since jumping into the FBS in 2017. Their reward came on Sunday when they jumped into the Associated Press’ rankings for the first time.

Coastal Carolina plays its first game in the FBS era as a ranked team Saturday when it hosts conference foe Georgia Southern in Conway, S.C.

“It’s something that’s pretty special for our program and for our university being the first time ever,” coach Jamey Chadwell said. “It’s a big deal, but we’re also realistic knowing that if we slip up one time, we’ll probably never see it again.

“So I told our guys that if you want to stay there and continue to do something for this program, you have to keep winning. We’ve got good leaders, and I think we’ll do a good job of keeping it in perspective.”

The Chanticleers’ ascent into the rankings is perhaps the biggest surprise of an already bizarre college football season. Coastal Carolina endured losing seasons in its first three FBS years, then turned the offense over to redshirt freshman quarterback Grayson McCall.

All McCall has done in his first four games is complete 59 of 87 passes for 930 yards and 11 touchdowns with only one interception. In the win at Louisiana, McCall was an efficient 17 of 24 for 202 yards and two scores with no picks.

It was the third time in four games that Coastal Carolina (4-0, 2-0 Sun Belt) won as an underdog. Its resume also includes a one-sided road victory over the Big 12’s Kansas and a 52-23 rout of perennial bowl participant Arkansas State.

Georgia Southern (3-1, 1-1) will provide the Chanticleers with a difficult test. The Eagles are a 53-yard field goal away from possibly being a fringe Top 25 team, losing 20-18 at then-No. 19 Louisiana when the Ragin’ Cajuns’ Nate Snyder toed a career-long kick as time expired.

Last week, Georgia Southern enjoyed a 41-0 shutout of Massachusetts, which was playing its first game of the year. The Eagles raced out to a 28-0 halftime lead and never looked back, getting three touchdown passes and 203 total yards (127 passing, 76 rushing) from senior quarterback Shai Werts.

“I was proud of our guys for playing a complete game,” Georgia Southern coach Chad Lunsford said. “There are things that we have to clean up and get better at, but we finally played a good team game. Now it’s time to reset and move on to the next one, because it will be a tough one.”

Werts is the man to watch for the Eagles. His 2,660 career rushing yards are the most of any active FBS quarterback, and barring injury or other occurrence, he’ll make his 40th career start this week.

Georgia Southern leads the all-time series 5-1, including a victory in a 30-27 triple-overtime thriller last year at home in Statesboro, Ga.

–Field Level Media

Nov 9, 2019; Columbia, SC, USA; Appalachian State Mountaineers helmet during the first quarter against the South Carolina Gamecocks at Williams-Brice Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports

Appalachian State-Georgia Southern postponed

Appalachian State postponed next week’s game at Georgia Southern on Wednesday due to a continuing COVID-19 situation at the school in Boone, N.C.

The contest, originally scheduled for Wednesday, Oct. 14, was pushed back to Dec. 12 in Statesboro, Ga. The game time will be announced later.

This is the second postponement in as many weeks for the Mountaineers, whose Oct. 7 home game with Louisiana will now be played on Dec. 4 or 5.

Appalachian State (2-1, 0-0 Sun Belt) has not held a practice since before its 52-21 win against Campbell on Sept. 26.

“All active COVID-19 cases are recovering in isolation,” the school said in a news release issued Wednesday. “Close contacts who have been identified through contact tracing are required to quarantine.”

The Mountaineers are in their first full season under head coach Shawn Clark. Clark led the team to a New Orleans Bowl victory against UAB in 2019 after a 12-1 season under Eli Drinkwitz, now the head coach at Missouri.

Appalachian State’s next scheduled game is Oct. 22 at home against Arkansas State. Georgia Southern (2-1, 1-1) is at Coastal Carolina on Oct. 24.

–Field Level Media