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BOONE, N.C. — Revenge is a dish best served cold. And that’s exactly what No. 5 Appalachian State gave No. 1 Georgia Southern.
On a Saturday featuring snow flurries and a 33-degree temperature that rose to 39 degrees at kickoff — 29 degrees with the wind chill — Appalachian State defeated GSU, 24-17, to avenge the Eagles’ 21-14 overtime victory over the then-No. 1 Mountaineers last season in Statesboro.
"It’s a hard feeling to take a loss like this, but they’re a good team," GSU senior cornerback Laron Scott said. "They made some plays. We can’t say it was all just on us. They did a great job. It stings a little bit. Actually, it stings a lot. Just to be honest. It stings a lot. But we’ve just got to learn from it."
A Kidd Brewer Stadium crowd of 30,018 watched as Appalachian State improved to 6-2 overall and 4-1 in the Southern Conference. GSU fell to 7-1, 5-1.
The game at "The Rock" was designated as a "Black Saturday" by Appalachian State, and Mountaineers fans were encouraged to dress in black clothing.
GSU’s loss didn’t come close to being as horrendous as the 52-16 setback the Eagles suffered at "The Rock" in 2009, but it was ugly early.
A pass by GSU senior quarterback Jaybo Shaw was intercepted by the Mountaineers’ Demetrius McCray to end the Eagles’ first possession. It was Shaw’s first interception this season. McCray picked off a second Shaw pass in the second quarter, giving Shaw the first multiple-interception game as an Eagle.
After the first interception, Appalachian State drove 63 yards on six plays and sophomore quarterback Jamal Jackson connected with Andrew Peacock for a 25-yard touchdown. It marked only the second time this season that GSU trailed in a game since the Eagles fell behind, 7-0, to Elon on Oct. 1.
Appalachian State receiver Brian Quick, a 6-foot-5, 220-pound senior who is on NFL teams’ radars, made a catch for a 36-yard gain to GSU’s 9-yard line. The Mountaineers settled for a 24-yard field goal by Drew Stewart and a 10-0 lead with 12:58 left in the second quarter.
"The opening drive, they go down and score," GSU head coach Jeff Monken said. "I hate to give up 7-0 on the opening drive. That’s a confidence booster for the other team. But I thought after that, we knuckled down pretty good."
GSU’s Scott returned the ensuing kickoff 78 yards, and a personal foul by Mountaineer Troy Sanders for a horse-collar tackle put the Eagles on Appalachian State’s 10-yard line. GSU settled for a 22-yard field goal by Adrian Mora that cut the score to 10-3.
With 1:29 left before halftime, Appalachian State’s McCray intercepted a Shaw pass a second time. Five plays later, the Mountaineers’ Jackson threw a 56-yard touchdown pass to Quick that gave Appalachian State a 17-3 lead at halftime.
Jackson was 10-of-16 passing for 181 yards and two touchdowns in the first half. Shaw was 2-of-5 passing for 7 yards and two interceptions.
"We got three (points) and just before half, we’ve got their best player double-covered and we’re in Cover Two, and we don’t get over the top, he runs right by us and I wish I could tell you how that happens," Monken said. "It’s my fault. It’s a poor job of coaching. I’ve got to do a better job of getting the guys in position. It’s disappointing."
Said Shaw, "We just couldn’t get things going. We didn’t execute to our level, and the credit goes to App."
GSU cut the score to 17-10 in the third quarter when J.J. Wilcox ran for a 3-yard touchdown and Mora kicked the extra point to cap a 12-play, 60-yard drive.
With 29 seconds left in the third quarter, on fourth-and-goal at Appalachian State’s 3-yard line, the Mountaineers stopped GSU’s Shaw after a 2-yard run.
Appalachian State punted four plays later and GSU’s Darrieon Robinson returned the ball for a 46-yard touchdown that, after Mora’s extra-point kick, tied the game at 17 with 13:57 to play.
Appalachian State responded with a nine-play, 67-yard drive that was capped by Jackson’s 15-yard touchdown pass to Quick, who was alone in the end zone. GSU’s Scott pushed Quick out of the back of the end zone.
"I thought he bobbled it, but I’m not a ref, so I can’t call it," Scott said. "I thought he bobbled it. I tried to prove my point to the refs but, hey, they make the final decision. And they say he caught it."
Said Monken, "Unfortunately, their last touchdown down there, we blew an assignment, let their best player run wide open all by himself in the back of the end zone."
GSU’s Scott intercepted a pass by Jackson and returned the ball 26 yards to the Mountaineers’ 9-yard line with 5:28 to play. The Eagles turned the ball over on downs on fourth-and goal.
After an Appalachian State punt, GSU got the ball back but Robert Brown ran for a 1-yard loss on fourth-and-1 with 1:45 to play.
GSU will play The Citadel at 2 p.m. Saturday for the Eagles’ Homecoming.
Noell Barnidge can be reached at (912) 489-9408.
Noell Barnidge can be reached at (912) 489-9408.