STATESBORO, GA. -- Jaybo Shaw passed for 171 yards and triggered a Georgia Southern ground game that compiled 361 yards and six touchdowns to lead the Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) top-ranked Eagles to a 50-20 victory over Furman in front of 19,221 fans at Paulson Stadium Saturday afternoon.
Shaw completed 6-of-9 passes to give Georgia Southern offensive balance and rushed for a pair of scores to help the Eagles (6-0, 5-0 SoCon) remain perfect on the season and notch their biggest win, points-wise, over the Paladins (3-2, 2-2 SoCon) in the 23-game series, which had seen the last eight games decided by eight points or less.
Jonathan Bryant led all rushers with 10 carries for 95 yards and a touchdown for the Eagles, who did most of their damage on the perimeter following Shaw option pitches.
"We did some nice things on offense, but we were beaten in all phases of the game today," said Furman head coach Bruce Fowler, whose squad surrendered 532 yards, had a pair of kicks blocked, and turned the ball over twice in the red zone.
One of the blocked kicks came on an extra point and was returned by Laron Scott for two points to give GSU an early 9-6 lead after the Paladins' Sederrik Cunningham ran back a kickoff 96 yards for a touchdown at the 6:58 mark of the first quarter.
Georgia Southern used a 2-yard scoring run by Shaw, a 14-yard touchdown run by Bryant, and 23-yard Adrian Mora to build a 26-13 second quarter lead before Furman threatened to narrow the advantage just before intermission. Taking over at its own 21 with 2:01 to go, quarterback Chris Forcier connected with Ryan Culbreath for 43 yards to the GSU 31 five plays later had the Paladins at the Eagle 3. On a first and goal play, however, Forcier's pass into the back corner of the end zone was picked off by Hudson Presume to halt the threat with 28 seconds to go in the half.
Georgia Southern put the game away in the third quarter with a 49-yard Mora field goal and Shaw 1-yard run to make it 36-13.
The Paladins' lone second half tally came on a 44-yard touchdown reception from backup quarterback Dakota Derrick. Anderson, who caught nine passes for 110 yards against Samford a week ago, had three catches for 111 yards versus GSU, including a 58-yard fourth quarter connection that gave Furman a first down at the GSU 12. The Paladins, however, turned the ball over on downs four plays later.
Furman, which registered 405 yards total offense, was paced by Forcier, who completed 13-of-23 passes for 217 yards and a score. Jerodis Williams had 13 rushes for 64 yards to lead the Paladin ground game, which finished with 115 yards,
Furman entertains Wofford next Saturday at Paladin Stadium in a 2:00 p.m. homecoming game.
Sederrik Cunningham's 96-yard kickoff return for a touchdown was the first of his career and was the first by a Paladin since Mike Brown recorded a 76-yard return for a score versus The Citadel in 2007. The 96-yard return was the seventh longest return in Furman history.
Furman tight end Colin Anderson has caught touchdown passes in four consecutive games and has five TD grabs over that four-game stretch. He now has nine career touchdown catches, a Furman TE record.
Georgia Southern's 2-point first quarter defensive PAT marked the fourth defensive PAT Furman has surrendered in its history. The Paladins have never recorded a 2-point defensive PAT.
Furman has suffered five blocks kicks this year, including two PATs, two FGs, and one punt.
Junior fullback Tony Caldwell registered the first start of his career today against GSU.