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App State Becomes Bowl Eligible With 27-6 Win Over Georgia Southern

By Tim Gardner

For years, Appalachian State and Georgia Southern were bitter adversaries while competing for conference and national titles as Southern Conference members. They combined to win nine national titles, before both made the Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) to Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) transition in 2014. They were then placed in the same conference– the Sun Belt—which has kept their rivalry as intense as ever. But it’s one that Appalachian State has dominated in recent years.

And with their 27-6 victory over Georgia Southern Thursday night before 23,110 at Kidd Brewer Stadium in Boone and an ESPNU audience, the Mountaineers have won six of the last seven games in the series. This win also triggered their return to postseason eligibility. Appalachian State is 3-for-3 in becoming bowl eligible as a full-fledged FBS member.

Additionally, Appalachian State improved to 6-4 over-all, 5-1 in conference play and 19-13-1 all-time against the Eagles. The latter mark includes a 4-1 record in FBS matchups.

The victory also allowed the Mountaineers to remain at least tied for second place in the Sun Belt standings after this week’s league games. They could even be tied for first if league-leading Arkansas State losses to South Alabama Saturday. And Appalachian State could also be in sole possession of second place if Arkansas State wins, and Troy (versus Coastal Carolina) and Georgia State (versus Texas State) both lose Saturday.

Georgia Southern remains winless (0-9-over-all; 0-5 Sun Belt) this season.

A stingy Appalachian State defense kept the Eagles out of the endzone and limited them to only 191 yards of offense on 56 plays (3.4 yards average). The heralded Georgia Southern option running attack got only 111 yards.

Tee Sims increased his season total to 9.5 sacks by posting one of three by the Mountaineers’ defense.

Special teams also played a significant role for Appalachian State. Redshirt freshman Chandler Staton’s two field goals included a 53-yarder to end the first half and the Mountaineers moved ahead 20-6 early in the fourth quarter after senior 241-pound defensive end Caleb Fuller rushed for 23 yards for a first down on a fake punt.

Three plays after Fuller advanced to the Georgia Southern 27 on his fourth-and-3 carry from midfield, senior wide receiver Ike Lewis caught a 20-yard touchdown pass from senior quarterback Taylor Lamb and Staton followed with the point-after kick with14:55 remaining.

The scoring drive covered 75 yards in nine plays.

It was Lewis’ seventh touchdown in the last five games.

Appalachian State added its last touchdown just slightly more than five minutes later (9:40) when freshman running back Daetrich Harrington capped an 8-play; 56-yards drive with a 3-yard touchdown run. Staton made the conversion kick to give the Mountaineers what turned out to be the final tally.

“It’s awesome to get six wins again and get the opportunity to play in the postseason especially,” said Appalachian State head coach Scott Satterfield. “It’s real fitting to do it against Georgia Southern, our rival team. I’m really proud of our players for the way they battled back in five days, coming off two heartbreak losses. They were really focused and had a great week of practice, just a mental type that paid dividends. Our players played fresh and hard.

“I’m really proud of our defense and those players bounced back from probably one of our worst performances in the past three years. They really played excellent (against Georgia Southern). We could be a little more aggressive. We went for it on fourth down, faked a punt and the reason was because our defense was playing really well. I’m proud of our two freshman running backs. Marcus Williams, Jr. and Daetrich really ran the ball like we needed them to. We ended up with 46 carries and our goal was to get 40. We thought that would give us a great chance to win.”

The Eagles scored the game’s first points with 38 seconds left in the opening quarter when Tyler Bass kicked a 29-yard field goal for a 3-0 lead.

Then Appalachian State went ahead to stay with 7:12 remaining in the second period when sophomore tight end Collin Reed caught a 23-yard touchdown pass from Lamb. Staton kicked the extra point for a 7-3 score.

Georgia Southern then used a fourth-down stop to begin a drive at Appalachian State’s 36-yard line with 2:20 left in the half. But Sims’ first-down tackle in the backfield ignited a three-and-out possession that ended with a punt from the 42. Seemingly content to enter halftime with a four-point lead, Appalachian State let the clock run before Lamb gained 44 yards to the Georgia Southern 35 on a third-and-9 draw play. The Mountaineers called a timeout with three seconds left, and Staton drilled the field goal as the half ended for a 10-3 lead.

It was the sixth-longest field goal in school history and the longest successful attempt since Mark Wright set a school record with a 57-yard field goal against Troy in 2000.

“Chandler (Staton) has come in and done a phenomenal job,” Satterfield said. “That was awesome (him) hitting that 53-yarder, giving us momentum. In practice if he misses one, he gets right back up and kicks it in there. He doesn’t let things bother him and as a kicker you have to be that way.”

Staton also kicked a 28-yard field goal at the 10:38 mark of the third quarter to push the Mountaineers to a 13-3 lead.

Then Bass cut the deficit to 13-6 with a 44-yard field goal with 4:24 left in the period.

Lamb completed seven of 13 passes for 161 yards, and redshirt freshman Williams, Jr. rushed for a career-high 130 yards in his third straight start as the Mountaineers played without injured, junior running back Jalin Moore.

Junior defensive back Austin Exford and senior outside linebacker Rashaad Townes joined Sims in recording a sack for Appalachian State. Senior defensive back A.J. Howard had seven solo tackles to lead the team.
The Mountaineers are open next week, before playing at Georgia State in Atlanta November 25.