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App leaves GSU feeling blue
Mountaineers snap Eagles' home winning streak
110312 GSU FOOTBALL 03
Appalachian State defenders run off the field celebrating after an interception by Troy Sanders quashed hopes of a Georgia Southern win on a 4th-and-16 play with 53 seconds left in the game Saturday at Paulson Stadium.


One thing’s for sure when Appalachian State and Georgia Southern meet — the No. 1 team in the nation had better watch out.

For the third-straight year, one of the two was the top-ranked team and for the third time in a row, that team lost.

Appalachian State’s Jamal Jackson passed for 383 yards and the Mountaineers knocked off top-ranked GSU 31-28 Saturday at Paulson Stadium.

"I’m just really disappointed that we didn’t play better," said GSU coach Jeff Monken, whose Eagles (7-2, 6-2 Southern Conference) would have won the SoCon title outright with a win. "I thought our guys played hard. I thought we tried hard, but we didn’t execute like we needed to. It’s a tough pill to swallow."

Jackson threw the would-be, game winning touchdown to Tony Washington early in the fourth quarter.

The drive, which lasted only three plays, was set up when the Eagles were called for kick-catch interference and a dead-ball, personal foul on a punt.

"The guy calls a fair catch, and our guy runs right through him," Monken said. "It’s the same rule at every level of football and all the video games, and I don’t know why we can’t figure that out. Then, we have something after the play that’s a deal ball. We put them in great position."

The Eagles marched down the field on their last drive, and converted on 4th-and-4 when Tray Butler reached back to catch a pitch, broke a tackle and got the first down, but a facemask penalty negated the play, and GSU quarterback Jerick McKinnon threw an interception on the next play, on 4th-and-16 from the 34-yard line.

The Mountaineers (7-3, 5-2) held GSU to only one second-half touchdown, a 12-yard run by backup quarterback Ezayi Youyoute on the first drive of the third quarter that put the Eagles up, 28-24.

Youyoute and Jerick McKinnon shared quarterback duties throughout the second half, and McKinnon spent time at fullback in the second half in place of William Banks (19-129, 3 TDs), who got the start for injured Dominique Swope, the team’s leading rusher.

"William Banks was having an IV bag put in him at halftime, so he didn’t come out in the second half," Monken said. "Jerick and Ezayi we feel like are pretty good players."

The Eagles led by 11 on two different occaisions in the first half, going up 14-3 on a 20-yard run by Banks, and 21-10 on Banks’ career-long 36-yard scamper.

"Everybody was intense today," Banks said. "I couldn’t tell you one guy on our team that wasn’t."

Banks gave the Eagles an early, 7-3 lead with a 4-yard run on the opening drive, and the Eagles trailed, 24-21 at the half due to a missed field goal and a blocked field goal from Alex Hanks.

Hanks was 0 for 3 in the game, missing from 26, 26 and 24.

"We missed three," Monken said. "The block? They didn’t even have to jump. It hit him in the chest. It was just a low kick. Somebody gets credit for blocking it, but it wasn’t going to go in. Those are points you leave out there, and unfortunately we couldn’t make one or two of them."

The Eagles put up 552 yards of offense, including a season-high 166 passing yards, but as good as things went in the first half, they were equally tough in the second.

With Banks fighting injury and McKinnon and Youyoute going down on separate occaisions on the offensive side of the ball, the defense took a hit when safety Darius Eubanks left the game after diving for a would-be interception.

He did not return, and his status was unknown at press time.

Brent Russell, who recorded a half sack to tie the GSU career record with 23, also went down with a nagging injury, but continued to play.

A crowd of 22,155, the seventh largest in Paulson Stadium history, attended the game.

The Eagles, who ended conference play with a share of the SoCon title, face Howard Saturday at Paulson Stadium.


Matt Yogus may be reached at (912) 489-4908.