Georgia Southern may have come out of the gates a little slow in their season opener versus Savannah State, but once the Eagles got going they were simply unstoppable.
Leading 7-0 at the end of the first quarter, in front of more than 16,000 fans, GSU scored no less than 21 points in each of the next three quarters as the Eagles rambled to a 77-9 drubbing of the Tigers. Georgia Southern outrushed Savannah State 576 to 21 yards and piled up an astonishing 35 first downs.
The Eagles scored 49 points in the second half against a helpless defense that had no answer for GSU’s potent ground attack. Former Augusta Christian standout William Banks helped the cause with a pair of third quarter rushing touchdowns. The 5-9, 194-pound senior finished with 44 yards and the two touchdowns on seven carries.
Banks played in all 14 games last season for the Eagles with a pair of starts. In those two contests he shined, scoring three touchdowns vs. Chattanooga and rushing for a career high 129 yards on 19 carries against Appalachian State. He finished the season with 442 yards and 4 TDs. He also was a member of the Dean’s List for the fall semester in 2012 with a 3.50 GPA.
Banks is not the only Columbia County native suiting up for Georgia Southern this season. Former Evans defensive back Clifford Saggus and Greenbrier product Dylan Turner are also on the Eagles roster for 2013. Saggus, a 5-8, 172-pound defensive back, walked on to the GSU squad last season and has impressed coaches with his work ethic.
He made three tackles in the opener against Savannah State, including a pair of solo stops. Saggus also earned a 3.0 GPA during the spring semester. Turner, a former All-County and All-CSRA performer for the Pack, attended the Air Force Prep Academy in 2009 and then played for Air Force in 2010.
He saw action in four games at Air Force as a true freshman as the team finished with an impressive 9-4 record, which included a win in the Independence Bowl over Georgia Tech.
Turner, however, was not sure if he wanted to stay at Air Force and was considering a transfer. The coaching staff assured him he would be a starting defensive end for the next three years at Air Force, but his mind was made up. He decided to transfer and was offered a scholarship to Appalachian State.
The NCAA ruled that he must pay his way to school for one year and maintain his grades during that time. To save a lot of money on out-of- state tuition, the decision was made to attend GSU. So, after dealing with the transfer, the NCAA ruling and an injury over the last two years, Turner is back on the field. A couple of weeks before the season began, Turner was moved to tight end.
He quickly earned a starting position and had nine knockdown blocks in the Savannah State game, which was second on the team. And, like Banks and Saggus, Turner has achieved academic recognition, posting a 3.17 GPA last fall.
Several other CSRA players are members of GSU’s team this season. Three of them saw action in the win over Savannah State
Connor Tierney (Aquinas) placekicker: Was perfect on extra points, but was 0-2 on field goals, including a blocked attempt
Chris Jordan (Thomson) running back: Had three carries for only two yards, but did score a touchdown
William Bussey (Thomson) defensive back: Had one solo tackle
Bernard Dawson (Thomson) defensive line: Did not play