By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
A Homecoming heartbreaker
Eagles push App to double-overtime
GAME-WINNER 5 col col
Running back Kevin Richardson scores the game-winning touchdown for Appalachian State Saturday to beat Georgia Southern 27-20 in double-overtime at Paulson Stadium. - photo by Associated Press


Jayson Foster electric kickoff return against Appalachian State Saturday at Paulson Stadium

To view this video please enable JavaScript, and consider upgrading to a web browser that supports HTML5 video

GSU vs App State

Highlights from Saturday's game against Appalachian State in Paulson Stadium.

To view this video please enable JavaScript, and consider upgrading to a web browser that supports HTML5 video

    The Southern Conference championship is now a two-team race.
    Georgia Southern’s hopes for a league title and a playoff appearance slipped away Saturday when junior running back Kevin Richardson scored on a three-yard run in the second overtime to lift top-ranked Appalachian State to a 27-20 win over Georgia Southern before a homecoming crowd of 19,438.
    The Eagles fell to 3-4 on the season and 2-2 in the SoCon, while App State, the defending Division I-AA national champion, improved to 7-1 and 4-0. It was the Mountaineers’ second win at Paulson Stadium and first in a decade. ASU and Furman (6-2, 4-0) are tied for first place in the league standings, while the six other schools have at least two conference losses each.
    “It’s tough to lose, especially in a close game like this,” said senior linebacker John Mohring, who had a game-high 12 tackles. “We laid it all out on the field. It is the No. 1 team in the country, and they fought adversity all day and bounced back time and time again. They are No. 1 for a reason and they showed it today. Looking from the outside in, you say this is a down season, but this is promising for us.”
    Moral victories weren’t part of Georgia Southern coach Brian VanGorder’s post-game rhetoric.
    “We expected to win the football game today,” he said. “We didn’t play as well as we can, but we are getting better. Every week we are getting better and the improvement is dramatic from way back. But it’s disappointing it’s not good enough yet.”
    Georgia Southern took a 17-10 lead with 12:18 to play after senior linebacker Jason Earwood forced the Mountaineers to fumble at their own 17. Redshirt freshman cornerback Ronnie Wiggins snagged the loose ball and returned it for a score, but ASU tied the game on its next possession on a 65-yard touchdown pass from Armanti Edwards to William Mayfield with 11:06 remaining.
    Neither team found the end zone again before the end of regulation, setting up the first regular season game to reach overtime in Paulson Stadium history. It was the Eagles’ first overtime game since the 2005 season opener at Northeastern and just the third in school history.
    The teams exchanged field goals during the first overtime period before Richardson’s touchdown gave the visitors a seven-point edge. The Eagles couldn’t answer the score as Jayson Foster ran for one yard on the first play and Travis Clark’s final three passes fell incomplete. It was the first double-overtime game in Georgia Southern history.
    “This was a physical football team,” ASU coach Jerry Moore said. “All day long, it was physical, and we knew it was going to be that way. I think they played the best they have played all year. We’re proud to walk off this field with a victory.”
    Georgia Southern’s defense played well, particularly in the first half when it held the SoCon’s top offense to 132 total yards and a field goal. The unit continued to shine in the second half, halting the App State offense on fourth-and-1 from the Eagle 2 on the Mountaineers’ first possession of the third quarter. The Eagle defense forced four App State turnovers, three fumbles and one interception.
    “Our defense played well,” Foster said. “They helped us out a lot today. They got a lot of turnovers, but we’ve got to come back and start converting on third downs more.”
    The Eagles were 4 of 17 on third down, and VanGorder wasn’t pleased with his team’s performance on offense. The Eagles were held to 266 total yards – 120.7 below their average. A week after throwing for a career-high 375 yards, Clark completed 14 of 36 attempts for 95 yards and one touchdown.
    Georgia Southern’s running game racked up 171 yards, ending a streak of two straight games with less than 100 yards of the ground. Lamar Lewis led the way with a 62-yard effort on 14 carries, while Foster added 47 yards on four totes and Chris Covington gained 36 yards on 10 carries.
    “It was a bad day offensively, I thought,” VanGorder said. “(We had) no real rhythm. Yardage-wise, it was tough running the football, and third-down play was poor.”
    The Mountaineer offense racked up 419 total yards behind Edwards, a true freshman, who rushed for a game-high 140 yards and one touchdown on 26 carries. He also completed 11 of 21 passes for 210 yards and one score. Richardson caught four passes for 101 yards and ran for another 65 on 21 tries.
Appalachian State rallied from a 7-3 halftime deficit, taking a 10-7 edge midway through the third quarter on a 15-yard touchdown run by Edwards. Georgia Southern capitalized on a 42-yard kickoff return and a 30-yard reverse by Foster on the ensuing drive to tie the game at 10-10 on a 26-yard field goal by Patrick Bolen.
    Raja Andrews caught his first career touchdown to give Georgia Southern a 7-0 lead early in the second quarter. Redshirt freshman Terrione Benefield set up the drive by intercepting an Edwards’ pass at the Mountaineer 40 – App State’s second consecutive turnover. The Eagles took advantage of the short field, capping a five-play drive with Clark’s 19-yard touchdown pass to Andrews.
    The Mountaineers got on the board on their next possession when Julian Rauch nailed a 30-yard field goal 5:02 before the half.
Georgia Southern continues league play with a 2 p.m. game at The Citadel next Saturday.

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