Five takeaways from Morgan’s 59-7 loss to Georgia Southern

Review the Bears’ young defense, highs and lows of the night and more in the Spokesman’s top five takeaways from Saturday’s game.

Alex Ederson, Contributing Writer

On Saturday, the Morgan State Bears (0-1) opened the season with a 59-7 loss to the Georgia Southern Eagles in Statesboro, GA at the Allen E. Paulson Stadium.

The Bears were looking forward to their first game under new head coach Damon Wilson, but fell short to the Eagles.

The Bears started the game against the Eagles in the best possible way, holding the Eagles to 0 points on their first 2 possessions, including one “3-and-out.”

Morgan’s offense was unable to capitalize on strong defensive play in the first quarter, sustaining drives of 5 and 10 plays respectively before punting.

Senior RB Alfonso Graham showed what he was capable of against tough opponents, averaging 7.6 yards per carry on the night.

The Eagles were the ones to strike first; Georgia Southern Senior QB Kyle Vantrease marched the Eagles on a 12 play, 80-yard touchdown drive with 12:20 remaining in the second quarter.

On this scoring drive, Vantrease completed passes of 11, 28, 17, and five yards respectively before it being capped off by a 4-yard receiving TD from freshman RB OJ Arnold.

This touchdown signaled what was soon-to-be a long night for the Morgan State defense; the ball deflected off the back of safety Kaleb Coleman and into the waiting arms of Arnold.

The Bears struck back with their only score of the evening through an interception returned 50 yards for a touchdown by recent LSU transfer and Baltimore-native, Jordan Toles.

The remainder of the game continued with Morgan State failing to contain the passing game of the Eagles. Georgia Southern QB Kyle Vantrease had one of the best passing performances seen by a Georgia Southern QB, with his 367 passing yards landing him in the top three passing yards all time for a single game in GSU history.

He topped that performance off with four passing touchdowns through the air to seal a 59-7 defeat for the Bears.

Morgan’s next game is the 27th entry in the “Battle for Greater Baltimore” against Towson University on Sept. 10. at 7 p.m. The matchup will take place at Johnny Unitas Stadium and the Bears will look to improve to 1-1 for the season against their historic rivals.

Towson University currently lead 20-6 all time in the series with the series returning in 2021 after a three year hiatus.

Here are the top five takeaways from Morgan’s 59-7 loss against Georgia Southern.

Self-Inflicted mistakes hurt the Bears early and often

The Bears turned the ball over twice in the first half and twice in the second.

The turnovers led to 24 points for Georgia Southern, but without those, the game had the potential to be much closer.

The Bears also committed six penalties for a combined 60 yards. Several of the penalties were drive killers or resulted in big gains for Georgia Southern.

Morgan’s passing game left much to be desired

The Bears were unable to provide much of a threat through the air to give their offense a much needed second dimension.

Senior San Diego State and Western Kentucky transfer Carson Baker completed 10 of 21 passes for 78 yards and an interception before being replaced by sophomore QB Duce Taylor with 13:41 to go in the fourth.

Taylor didn’t fare much better going 0-6 with a pair of interceptions.

Alfonso Graham will be integral to the Bears winning games in 2022

Senior RB Alfonso Graham was a large bright spot for the Bears’ offense on an otherwise off night. He led the Bears in rushing on the night, providing 106 yards on 14 carries; he also led the team in receiving with three receptions for 29 yards.

He showed against top tier opponents that he could command attention whenever he had the ball in his hands.

3rd Downs issues persists for the Bears

The Bears struggled all night to convert chances on third down, not completing their second until 4:46 remaining in the third quarter.

Morgan went 2-13 on third down (15 percent) for the night and were unable to effectively stop Georgia Southern when they were facing third down. Georgia Southern went 11-17 (65 percent) and rarely saw their drives end without points.

The Bears’ young defense will need time to grow into their own

Five of 11 starters on the Morgan State defense are sophomores.

The 2022 defense introduces five new starters plus several underclassmen who are now getting significant gametime under Coach Wilson.

Their lack of experience showed, giving up 500 total yards of offense to the Eagles; Senior QB Kyle Vantrease had a career day, completing 29-46 passes for 367 yds, 4 touchdowns and an interception.

The young defense showed flashes of promise (one interception, three pass breakups, and four QB hurries) against tough opponents and will look to bounce back against Towson next week.