SAVANNAH, GA (WTOC) - The Georgia Southern Eagles know they won’t be playing for a Sun Belt title in three weeks.
“This hurts,” QB Shai Werts said. "Win this one and we have a shot to play in the Sun Belt championship. Now that we lost, I don’t really know where we go from here.”
The Eagles saw their East Division title hopes extinguished Saturday with a 35-21 home loss to Troy. The Trojans can now clinch the division crown by winning out.
“If we’re going to win Sun Belt championships, we have to learn how to beat the best,” head coach Chad Lunsford said. "Right now, Troy is the best. We have to be able to figure out how to get our team in position to be able to beat them.”
Everything looked to be going Southern’s way early. A pair of touchdown passes from Shai Werts to Ellis Richardson had the Eagles leading 14-3 at the end of the first quarter.
But Troy showed their merit, outscoring Southern 32-7 over the final three quarters.
“We punched them in the mouth early," Lunsford said. "Then they came back and punched us in the mouth, and we didn’t respond. We have to figure out how to do that.”
The Eagles were noticeably disappointed after the game. Lunsford said his players “were hurting” in the locker room.
“This is the one we wanted,” the Eagle quarterback says. “Obviously we didn’t get it. We just have to come tomorrow, prepare how we’ve been preparing, and hopefully the results will be different next week."
Southern struggled offensively and defensively after the first quarter. The Eagles managed just 101 rushing yards in the loss, 51 of which came in the first 15 minutes.
For the second straight week, Southern saw their defense giving up big plays and points. The Trojans had 314 yards passing and weren’t sacked in the game. Lunsford says this two-game losing streak is all a product of how the Eagles are playing.
“We have got to fix some things. Right now, we’re not playing our best football," Lunsford says. "We’re not giving it enough. We have to make sure that we get our offense and defense back on track and get some momentum going into the last part of the season.”
The Eagles close out the regular season on the road. They’ll take on Coastal Carolina Saturday afternoon in Conway, SC before battling arch rival Georgia State in two weeks in Atlanta.