By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Eagles beat App State
GSU wins 38-35
Georgia Southern’s Jayson Foster looks for some running room Saturday against Appalachian State at Kidd Brewer Stadium. Foster and the Eagles puled off their biggest win of the year, beating the No. 5 Mountaineers 38-35. - photo by MARIE FREEMAN/Watauga Democrat
    BOONE, N.C. — Never, not even for one second, did Georgia Southern think this was impossible.
    The Eagles proved that much Saturday at Appalachian State, putting together a dominating performance and withstanding a late rally to stun the fifth-ranked Mountaineers, the two-time defending Football Championship Subdivision national champions.
    Georgia Southern played with poise and confidence and wasn’t rattled by a black-clad overflow crowd of 28,202, the second-largest crowd in Kidd Brewer Stadium history. With the win, the Eagles brought Appalachian’s 30-game home-winning streak — the longest in Division I — to a screeching halt. GSU is the first team since 2002 to escape Boone, N.C., with a victory.
    “We always think we are going to win — every game,” said backup quarterback Billy Lowe, who turned in a career performance while seeing increased time under center. “That’s what coach always tells us, and we go out there and play every down like we are going to win.”
    Georgia Southern (5-2, 2-2) couldn’t have scripted a better start. The Eagles took control immediately, scoring on their first drive of the game on Jayson Foster’s 56-yard TD haul on a handoff from Lowe. Sixty-two seconds later, Carson Hill picked off an Armanti Edwards’ pass and returned it 35 yards to give GSU a 14-0 advantage and silence the enormous crowd.
    “We got down 14 points and could never battle our way out,” Appalachian coach Jerry Moore said. “We just made so many mistakes, particularly defensively. We tackled poorly. It was a tough ballgame to lose.”   
    The Eagles, who led the entire game and dominated from start to finish, took an 18-point lead on Lamar Lewis’ 15-yard touchdown run with 9:50 to play. The score was set up by Eagle safety Chris Covington, who picked off an Edwards pass with Appalachian threatening to score late in the third quarter.
    GSU took over on its own 21, and the Eagles kept the drive alive with two key plays — Lowe connecting with Raja Andrews for a 42-yard reception on third-and-14 and Mike Hamilton taking a direct snap and dashing five yards on fourth-and-1. Lewis’ score capped the 13-play, 79-yard drive.
    But Appalachian wasn’t ready to fold and answered on its next possession as backup quarterback Trey Elder darted up the middle for a 19-yard score that cut the Eagle lead to 38-27 with 7:25 to go. The Mountaineers then pulled within three points on Devon Moore’s 1-yard TD run and a two-point conversion with just over two minutes left.
    ASU’s defense forced GSU to go three-and-out on the ensuing drive, and the Mountaineers got the ball back with 70 seconds to go. Appalachian returned the punt inside the Eagle 30 but a block-in-the-back against Appalachian forced ASU to begin its final possession at its 46 yard line. The Mountaineers moved to the GSU 43 but Edwards was forced out of bounds just short of a first down on fourth-and-11 with 1.1 seconds left on the clock.
    “It was a little pressure,” Covington said of defending ASU’s final possession. “The game was on the line, and they’ve got a great offense and a lot of great skill players. All we were doing is focusing on our jobs and keeping everything in front of us. We’d be lying if we said (this win) didn’t feel good.”
    Georgia Southern finished with 435 yards of total offense behind the two-headed monster of Foster and Lowe at quarterback. It was a new wrinkle for the Eagles, who wreaked havoc for the Mountaineers by lining up Foster at either running back or receiver when Lowe was under center.
    Foster finished with 175 rushing yards and one touchdown on 20 carries and hit 3 of 3 passes for 14 yards. He now has 3,122 career rushing yards. Lowe was 8-for-11 for 145 and one score. Lewis added 74 rushing yards and a pair of touchdowns.
    Defensively, GSU was led by E.J. Webb (11 stops) and Damon Suggs (9), who both registered career-highs in tackles. The win was a huge confidence boost for the Eagles, who bounce back from a heartbreaking double-overtime loss last week at Elon.
    “The atmosphere here tonight was unbelievable,” Eagle coach Chris Hatcher said. “It was incredible. It’s what college football is all about. It’s a huge win for our team.”
    Georgia Southern pulled off the upset despite allowing 557 yards of total offense to the Mountaineers (5-2, 1-2), who were paced by their quarterback Edwards. In his first start in nearly a month, the sophomore finished with a career and game-high 220 rushing yards on 29 carries. He threw for 178 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions on a 10 of 21 clip.
    After the Eagles took the early 14-0 lead a scoring circus ensued with GSU pushing its lead to 21-7 on Lewis’ 18-yard TD run with 5:23 left in the opening period. The 21 points were the most scored by GSU in the first quarter this season.
    Andrews’ 18-yard TD reception — his first this year — stretched Georgia Southern’s advantage to 28-14 early in the second quarter, and Jesse Hartley put the Eagles up 31-17 with a 31-yard field goal as time expired in the first half.
    Georgia Southern hosts The Citadel Saturday at a noon for homecoming.

    Alex Pellegrino can be reached at (912) 489-9413.