Howard sophomore quarterback Greg McGhee had his coming out party against Georgia Southern Eagles, running for a career-high three touchdowns and passing for another, but it was not nearly enough to stop Georgia Southern and its vaunted triple option offense that rolled up record yards in a 69-26 win over Howard in a non-conference game on Saturday Nov. 10 at Paulsen Stadium in Statesboro, Ga.
The Eagles (8-2 overall), ranked number seven in this week's Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) poll, set the tone on their first possession when sophomore running back Dominique Swope scored on a 58-yard run less than five minutes into the game.
The Bison (6-4 overall) failed to score on their possession, so Georgia Southern took advantage, this time with Swope taking it in from 34 yards out to make it 14-0. Howard was forced to punt on its next possession and looked to be in good shape when freshman punter John Fleck unleashed a 55-yard punt that pinned the Eagles back to their own 13-yard line.
But for the Eagles, it was just another opportunity to flex its offense. This time it was junior quarterback Jerick McKinnon who did the honors, weaving his way to an 87-yard jaunt that made the score, 21-0 with 4:28 still remaining in the first quarter.
The Bison turned to McGhee on their ensuing possession and the sophomore, who has struggled most of the season after a banner freshman season, delivered, leading his team on a 10-play, 80-yard drive that he capped off with a 4-yard run. He was especially sharp during the drive, mixing in some pinpoint short passes and a few chain-moving runs.
The Howard defense appeared inspired by McGhee's efforts and proceeded to stop the Eagles through most of the second quarter. But the Georgia Southern offense came out of the mini slump and added another score when McKinnon scored his second of three Touchdowns on the day, this time from 16 yards to make 28-7 at the 4:17 mark.
McGhee responded again, this time with an 11-play, 69-yard drive that he finished off with a 7-yards touchdown run. The PAT (point after touchdown) missed and Howard trailed, 28-13 with just 1:06 before intermission.
But on the next possession, Georgia Southern took advantage of a short field and scored on a 25-yard touchdown pass from McKinnon to sophomore wide receiver Zach Walker. It upped the margin to 35-13 at the half.
McKinnon added his third touchdown to start the third quarter following a 70-yard drive that took six plays.
McGhee again responded with an 11-play, 75-yard drive that he capped off with a 15-yard run.
He would later add a 35-yard touchdown pass to junior tight end David Wilson, but the large deficit proved to be too much to overcome against the perennial powerhouse Eagles.
For the game, McGhee rushed for a team-high 94 yards on 19 carries and he completed 24 of 38 for 239 yards, a touchdown and no interceptions.
Senior running back Terrence Leffall, who came into the game with six straight games of over 100 yards, finished with 74 on 21 carries.
The Eagles, who came into the game leading all FCS teams with 387 yards rushing, amassed 529 yards, the most ever allowed by the Bison. The previous high was 470 against Texas Southern in 1998.
McKinnon led all runners with 198 yards while Swope added 98 on just four carries. Thirteen different runners had at least one carry.