Thursday, October 31, 2019

App State's Perfect Season Wiped Out By Sun Belt Rival Georgia Southern

BOONE – Appalachian State came into Thursday night’s game as the #20 team in the AP and Coaches polls. Winning consecutive games as a ranked team for the first time in conference history, the Mountaineers were looking to extend this dream season with a win against old rival Georgia Southern. It was a rainy Halloween night at Kidd Brewer Stadium and just like Charlie Brown, all the Mountaineers seemed to get in their bucket for the night was rocks until the end of the night when a few pieces of candy showed up, but it was not enough as the Mountaineers fell to the Eagles, 24-21, ending Appalachian State’s perfect season.

The rainy weather didn’t seem to bother the run-heavy Georgia Southern offense. Starting their second drive of the game at midfield, the Eagles were able to move the chains and get in the red zone quickly. After seeming to be stopped on a third down, a pass interference call in the end zone gave the visitors a chance to score six instead of settling for a field goal. Running back Wesley Kennedy punched it in on the next play and Appalachian State found itself with a scoreless first quarter for the first on the season.

Georgia Southern extended their lead to 10-0 in the second quarter after a 49-yard field goal by Tyler Bass and seemed to be on its way to bookending the Mountaineers thirteen game winning streak. After five drives, the home team offense had only amassed fifty-four yards. Their sixth drive was different, however, as the Mountaineers went into a hurry-up mode and kept the Eagles defense on their heels. Going 7 of 9 on the drive, quarterback Zac Thomas guided the Mountaineers down the field and when Malik Williams made a SportsCenter-worthy catch in the corner of the end zone, it was game on as the score sat at 10-7 going into the half.

Any momentum the Mountaineers took into the locker room at the half was taken back on the third play of the third quarter as Wesley Kennedy took the option pitch and raced sixty-eight yards to the end zone to make it a ten-point difference again. Two drives and one fifty-five-yard keeper by Shai Werts later, Appalachian State found itself facing a two-score deficit for the first time this season, a deficit which carried into the final quarter.

Appalachian State made it a ten-point game midway through the fourth quarter with a Corey Sutton touchdown catch and sent out their defense to try and get a critical stop. The defense responded well, stopping Georgia Southern on downs with six minutes left.  The Appalachian State offense made quick work of their next possession, moving sixty-five yards in only one minute and eighteen seconds and making it a three-point game with a Thomas to Sutton connection for the Mountaineer touchdown.

The Mountaineers had two chances to get the win after forcing a Georgia Southern punt with three minutes left in the game, but a failed fourth-down conversion at midfield gave the ball back to the Eagles after the first attempt and a hook and lateral attempt failed as time ran out on the clock ended the second try. For the second straight year, Georgia Southern had defeated a ranked Appalachian State team.

Noteworthy Notes
This was the second straight year that Appalachian State went into their game with Georgia Southern as a ranked team and fell to their old rivals.

Notable North Carolinians
Corey Sutton (Mallard Creek) – the junior wide receiver scored twice in the fourth quarter as part of the Mountaineers’ failed comeback effort
Akeem Davis-Gaither (Thomasville) – the senior linebacker led the team with sixteen tackles, including six solo, and had a critical pass breakup on a third down that gave the Mountaineers a chance to win late

Next Week
Appalachian State (7-1) travels to take on their second P5 opponent of the season in South Carolina of the SEC while Georgia Southern (5-3) travels to take on fellow Sun Belt opponent Troy.