Facts and figures about the Georgia Southern football as the Eagles play their home opener vs. Savannah State on Saturday at 6 p.m. To purchase tickets for the first game in the newly expanded Paulson Stadium, visit GSEagles.com/fbtix.
Saturday’s game vs. Savannah State includes a number of firsts for the program – first FBS home game, first game in the expanded Allen E. Paulson Stadium, first time the Eagles will dress out for a game in the Football Operations Center and first game in the state of Georgia for Coach Willie Fritz.
In 10 previous meetings with Savannah State, Georgia Southern has come away with 10 wins. Nine of those games have been played at Paulson Stadium with the first taking place at Memorial Stadium in Savannah on Thanksgiving day.
Georgia Southern placekicker Alex Hanks had a career day against N.C. State going 3-for-3 in field goals and adding two PATs for 11 points scored. The junior from Marietta also had six kickoffs with no Wolfpack player attempting a return.
The Eagles have won 12 of their last 13 home openers, including the last seven straight games. Savannah State has been the Eagles’ first game in Paulson Stadium six previous times (1991, 1993, 2001, 2003, 2010, 2013 and 2014).
Despite unusual rainy weather during construction and leading up to the season, Paulson Stadium was ready for its first home game in 1984, 30 years ago. Georgia Southern defeated Liberty 48-11 before a crowd of 12,097 for its first of 176 victories (to date) in Paulson Stadium.
New capacity for Allen E. Paulson Stadium with the addition of the new mid-deck, club level seating and the Bishop Club.
Members of the inaugural 1982 Georgia Southern football team and Eagles representing all six national championship teams will be recognized and will take part in a special ceremony prior to the home opener Saturday.
The ceremony will honor the six national championship teams and the flags, representing the most Division I-AA titles by any program, will be relocated to a flag pole next to the new Football Operations Center
Military appreciation night
Georgia Southern will honor members of the U.S. armed forces Saturday night with active military personnel and veterans admitted free to Saturday’s game with their issued ID card. Additional tickets for family members are $17 each.
A special first-come, first-served free ticket distribution for military members and their families will be handled by unit commanders or leaders for the following groups for this game: Eagle Battalion Cadre, Coastal Battalion Cadre, 6th Brigade Cadre, American Legion, Veterans of Foreign Wars, Kiwanis Club, Coast Guard, Marine Recruiting, Navy Recruiting, Army Recruiting and the National Guard.
Military personnel, including Department of Defense civilians, may contact the Fort Stewart MWR at (912) 767-8660 for information on receiving tickets. Georgia Southern Senior Military Science Instructor Kenton Stenrose also can assist with questions at (912) 478-5320.
Student-athlete and soldier Lennie Richardson
Eagle starting defensive end Lennie Richardson began his career on the football field in 2008, but then enlisted in the U.S. Army, spending three and a half years in service to his country. Richardson served as a gunner on the M1A1 tanks with one year in Korea and the rest of his time at Ft. Benning. He returned to civilian life and Georgia Southern, joining the team for 2013 spring practice.
Patriotic-themed apparel benefts the Lone Survivor Foundation
Georgia Southern Athletics and the University Store teamed up with red, white and blue logo-themed caps, visors and polo shirts for sale for military appreciation night with 100 percent of the proceeds donated to the Lone Survivor Foundation. The Lone Survivor Foundation was selected to receive the funds due to its mission of restoring, empowering and renewing hopes for our wounded service members and their families through health, wellness and therapeutic support.
Marcus Luttrell, who attended Sam Houston State, and who had spoken to the Bearkat football team at the invitation of Coach Willie Fritz, is a retired U.S. Navy SEAL who received the Navy Cross for his actions in facing Taliban fighters during Operation Red Wing in 2005.
Fans can peruse the selection at the University Store or purchase online at fanzone.GSEagles.com.
Georgia Southern begins its first season in the FBS and Sun Belt Conference in 2014... The Eagles have won seven straight home openers... Savannah State will wear orange jerseys for its road uniform for the second straight week... Senior safety Deion Stanley is projected to start in his 34th Georgia Southern game Saturday, most of any current Eagle while senior wide receiver Kentrellis Showers is projected to play in his 40th Georgia Southern game, the top total among his teammates... Coach Willie Fritz is 20-1 in home openers in his career... Quarterback Kevin Ellison’s 184 passing yards total ranks 39th among all Eagles... Georgia Southern is 2-1 on games played on Sept. 6 — all three home games — with a 35-0 win over Savannah State in 2003 and a 34-20 victory over Austin Peay... Senior linebacker Edwin Jackson had a career-best 13 total tackles, his fifth game in double-digits and eighth game as the Eagles’ top tackler... Zach Walker had five catches in the N.C. State game with three at halftime, which tied the single-game receptions total in both 2012 and 2013.
Georgia on my mind
This is the first game Coach Willie Fritz has coached in the state of Georgia. Prior to Saturday’s game at N.C. State, he had never coached a game in the Eastern time zone in his 21-year head coaching career.
In the last three years, Georgia Southern’s season-opening scores have been among the longest plays of the year. Matt Breida’s 61-yard touchdown is obviously the longest of the year so far, but it also ranks as the longest in the Sun Belt. Last year, Jerick McKinnon had a 66-yard touchdown against Savannah State and the year before, Ezayi Youyoute ran for a 79-yard score vs. Jacksonville.
Lucky number 7
Senior wide receiver Kentrellis Showers moved up a notch in the career top-10 list from No. 8 to No. 7 with his seventh career touchdown catch. Ellison connected with Showers on the 29-yard TD in the second quarter against the Wolfpack and then again for a 30-yard reception in the fourth quarter.