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App rolls at 'The Rock'

ASU gets final laugh in SoCon chapter of rivalry

App rolls at 'The Rock'

App rolls at 'The Rock'

Appalachian State quarterback Kameron...




    BOONE, N.C. — Georgia Southern’s injuries have slowed down its offense all season.
    When Jerick McKinnon went down with a sprained ankle during the first quarter against Appalachian State, the offense flat-out stopped.
    The Mountaineers took advantage, cruising to a 38-14 win over the Eagles at Kidd-Brewer Stadium on Saturday in the teams’ final matchup as members of the Southern Conference.
    Appalachian’s 38 points were a season high, and sophomore quarterback Kameron Bryant lit up the GSU secondary with a career-high 381 passing yards, a pair of touchdowns through the air and two more on the ground, also a career high.
    Bryant, starting for only the fourth time in his career, completed 27 of 33 pass attempts.
    “We got to him a couple times, but we didn’t make him hurry enough throws, which causes incompletes,” GSU coach Jeff Monken said. “We let him beat us on some double moves, and we let him beat us on some big plays. We had some guys who got turned around or ended up on the ground, and that made for some easy completions. It was frustrating. It was a tough day for all of us.”
    The struggling Mountaineers (2-6, 2-3 SoCon) snapped a four-game losing streak in the process.
    Georgia Southern (4-3, 2-3) cruised on its first drive getting long runs from running backs Johnathan Bryant (25) and Trey Butler (17), as well as a 19-yard keeper from quarterback Kevin Ellison.
    McKinnon scored from 9 yards out.
    He left the game after the first carry of the next drive and returned only once later in the quarter, but it was apparent he could not put weight on his ankle.
Monken said McKinnon underwent x-rays, and they came out negative. No further details were available about the injury.
The offense struggled without McKinnon, and GSU managed only 33 yards in the second quarter.
Freshman Irving Huggins got his first significant snaps as an Eagle replacing McKinnon at B-back. He finished with 17 carries for 70 yards.
    “Irving came in and played a great game,” Ellison said. “Coach Monken told him to be ready at any time, and he came in and had to fill Jericks shoes.”
    “I got my opportunity today,” Huggins added, “and I tried to help the team out as best I could.”
The GSU defense, which ended Appalachian State’s first two drives with a third-down sack by Edwin Jackson and a tackle in the backfield by Kyle Oehlbeck, also fell apart after McKinnon’s injury.
    “Towards the end of the half, they just took advantage of our mistakes,” Jackson said. “When we got into the locker room at the half we tried to key in on changes in the second half. Miscommunication, that was the thing. And missed tackles — of course that’s going to get you.”
    Jackson led the Eagles with a career-high 12 tackles.
    The Mountaineers were blanked in the first quarter but scored on every drive of the second. It started with a 2-yard run by Kameron Bryant. The next drive gave the Mountaineers their first lead when, despite getting flagged for 40 yards worth of penalties, they got close enough to set up a 41-yard field goal by Drew Stewart.
    “When you win the battles it helps you win the war,” Monken said, “and we didn’t win enough of those little one-on-one battles that were going on.”
    Stewart’s other attempt, a 32-yarder in the fourth quarter, was blocked by GSU freshman Bernard Dawson.
    A 7-yard score by Bryant gave ASU a 24-7 lead at halftime, and when the dust cleared, the Mountaineers had 270 yards of offense at the break.
    “The big plays are things we’ve been missing offensively this year,” first-year ASU coach Scott Satterfield said. “We’ve been getting the ball down the field but we were lacking the big play to get the ball in the end zone. We were able to do that tonight and finishing the drive off with a big play is what it’s going to take to get points.”
    Marcus Cox (02 carries, 104 yards) opened the scoring in the third quarter for the Mountaineers with a 12-yard run, and Bryant connected with Simms McElfresh from 9 yards out for his first passing touchdown that left the Eagles trailing 31-7.
    Georgia Southern finally mounted a successful drive midway through the third when Huggins carried the ball three times for 25 yards and Ellison connected with Johnathan Bryant on a 21 yard pass.
    Ellison scored from a yard out to cut the ASU lead to 31-14 and cap off the 10-play, 71-yard scoring drive.
    Kameron Bryant got right back to work, connecting with Tony Washington on a 29-yard scoring pass.
    The Eagles, who are 4-0 at home and 0-3 on the road, return to Paulson Stadium on Saturday to face Furman at 1 p.m.
    NOTES: Georgia Southern senior Johnathan Bryant, who had 4 carries for 61 yards, had his 100th carry as an Eagle in the first quarter. He now has 103 carries for 883 yards in his career. … Appalachian beat Georgia Southern for the third-straight time, matching its longest winning streak against the Eagles. … Saturday’s game marked the first time since 2009 that one of the teams weren't ranked No. 1 in the nation when playing each other. ASU was No. 1 in 2009 and 2010 and the Eagles were No. 1 in 2011 and 2012. … Announced attendance was 23,901.

    Matt Yogus may be reached at (912) 489-9408.

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