By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Eagles moving on to Troy
GS logo

The simple task of thawing out may have been the most important order of business for Georgia Southern over the weekend. The Eagles notched a huge upset victory over hated rival — and nationally ranked — Appalachian State, braving the freezing temperatures, howling winds and intermittent snow showers of Boone, N.C. to do so.


But with the frigid temperatures of last Thursday behind them, the Eagles are now burning red-hot as they look to extend their current four-game winning streak when they roll into Troy this weekend.


The win over Appalachian put the Eagles (5-3, 3-1 Sun Belt) in charge of their own destiny in terms of winning the Sun Belt East. Of course, it was the exact same situation that the team couldn’t capitalize on last season.


So it hasn’t been too difficult to move past a rivalry win and refocus on Troy.


“We’ve been in this spot before. And last year, we didn’t handle it well,” GS coach Chad Lunsford said. “We lost a pair of games that really hurt us. Now we’re in a similar spot and we have the same two teams coming up that we lost to last year. This is what we mean when we talk about going from good to great. How do we respond to the situation this time?”



BUSTING LOOSE

One cure for cold weather is to keep moving. That’s exactly what junior running back Wesley Kennedy did as he rushed for a career high 145 yards and a pair of touchdowns, including a 68-yarder to begin the second half that allowed the Eagles to get some breathing room.


Kennedy was suspended for the first four games of the season for academic reasons. He returned the the team apologetic for letting them down and promising to make up for lost time. With 466 rushing yards and seven touchdowns in his four games this season, it’s clear that he meant what he said. 


“Wesley Kennedy is a kid who competes,” Lunsford said. “He does it during the game and at practice. He has such a passion for the game that is evident at all times. He’s a special part of this team.”



GETTING DEFENSIVE

To its credit, Appalachian State didn’t go down without a fight. The Mountaineers got up off the mat and scored a pair of fourth quarter touchdowns. They also had a pair of late possessions with a chance to tie or take the lead, but the Georgia Southern defense buckled down and App didn’t cross midfield on either series.


“That shows our growth,” Lunsford said. “At Minnesota, we led with 3:45 to go. We couldn’t get the job done. They scored and we lost the game. Against App State and their very good offense, they got the ball twice in the last 3:45 and we stopped them both times.”


Not only did Georgia Southern stifle one of the best offenses in the country, it did so at less than full strength. Star cornerback Kindle Vildor missed the majority of the game with an ankle injury. Fellow starters Raymond Johnson III, C.J. Wright, Traver Vliem, Jay Bowdry and Reynard Ellis were all helped off the field at one point or another, yet the defense continued to hold down the fort.


“That’s our mentality,” GS linebacker Rashad Byrd said. “It doesn’t matter if you’re a starter. It doesn’t matter if you’re a freshman or a redshirt senior. If you’re on the field, we expect you to be as good as the starter.”



SUNNIER DAYS

The conditions for the Eagles’ last three games could only be loved by a Weather Channel junkie. Georgia Southern and Coastal Carolina played a triple-overtime game through a tropical system a week before more than three inches of rain fell on the Eagles as they pummeled New Mexico State.


A deluge of rain that wiped out tailgating prior to the Eagles’ game at Appalachian State turned into a steady freezing drizzle and included gale force gusts that produced single-digit wind chills.


Saturday’s forecast in Troy calls for sunny skies with a high near 60.


That’s a welcome sight for fans, but Lunsford seems to be willing to take it or leave it.


“Any kind of weather is great for the Eagles to play in.”