NORFOLK, Va. — Buford High grad Dominique Swope ran 12 yards for a touchdown with 2:36 remaining, and Georgia Southern's defense helped erase a two-touchdown deficit in the fourth quarter and beat Old Dominion 49-35 in the FCS quarterfinals.
Jerick McKinnon ran for four touchdowns for the Eagles (10-3), who completed just two passes all day but ran for 602 yards in pursuit of their seventh national championship. They trailed 35-21 entering the final quarter, then scored the final 28 points to reach the semifinals.
Old Dominion quarterback Taylor Heinicke, who broke Steve McNair's single-season passing yardage record during the game and became the first quarterback with over 5,000 yards in a season, fumbled to set up the Eagles' tying drive in the fourth quarter, then threw incomplete on fourth-and-6 from his own 39.
Three plays later, Swope's second touchdown run put Georgia Southern in front to stay. It was the second consecutive season the Eagles have dispatched the Monarchs (11-2) from the playoffs in a thriller.
Last season, the Eagles won 55-48 at home. Swope finished with 186 rushing yards, and McKinnon had 171.
This time, the Monarchs seemed in control when they stopped the Eagles on four consecutive drives spanning the halves and opened a 35-21 lead on Heinicke's third touchdown pass, 8 yards to Nick Mayers, with 2:53 remaining in the third quarter. But then the Eagles defense rose to the occasion.
The Eagles capped an 86-yard drive with McKinnon's 4-yard TD run on the first play of the fourth quarter, then got the ball back when Dion DuBose stripped Heinicke on third-and-7 from the Eagles' 13.
McKinnon drove his team 79 yards in 12 plays, capping it himself with a 2-yard run with 5:32 remaining, and putting the pressure back on the Monarchs.
After getting a 15-yard roughing the passer call to move the ball to their 41, Heinicke faced a fourth-and-6 from his 39 and ODU opted to go for it. Heinicke's pass to Tyree Lee was behind him, fell incomplete and the Eagles drove for the winner.
It took them just three plays, Swope providing the finisher with a run up the middle.