BOONE, N.C. — Kidd Brewer Stadium has always been a house of horrors for the Georgia Southern Eagles. Thursday night proved to be no exception, as the Eagles dropped a 31-13 contest to Appalachian State, snapping Georgia Southern’s 11-0 record since joining the Sun Belt and extending its losing streak in Boone to four games.
The Eagles (5-2, 3-1 Sun Belt) are still right in the thick of things in the conference, but the Mountaineers (6-1, 3-0) now sit in first place and control their own destiny.
Taylor Lamb threw for 202 yards on 14-of-20 passing and tossed a pair of touchdowns while Marcus Cox ran for 90 yards and two scores on 21 carries.
“We just ran into a very good team,” GSU coach Willie Fritz said. “App played excellent. We did a good job on the first series, but they did a good job of defending the option and we were never able to stay on schedule.”
Things looked great for the Eagles early on. Matt Breida (14 carries, 90 yards) broke off a 27-yard run on the first play of the game and added a 22-yarder as the Eagles quickly drove into Appalachian territory.
Kevin Ellison (10 carries, 59 rushing yards, 64 passing yards) finished off the 87-yard drive by flipping over a defender for a 12-yard touchdown run.
But that was about the end of the fun for Georgia Southern.
The Eagle defense limited the Mountaineers to a 44-yard Zach Matics field goal on ASU’s first possession, but the Mountaineers took the defense with a chip on its shoulder throughout the rest of the game.
“They’re a really good defense and a really good team,” GSU receiver Myles Campbell said. “I give them all the credit for playing a great game. I tip my hat to them. They came to play and we didn’t.”
The second quarter provided Appalachian State with all the momentum it needed, as the Mountaineers thoroughly dominated the
15 minutes of play.
The Eagles ran just eight offensive plays during the quarter, and ASU converted the quick stops and good ensuing field position into
Appalachian State pulled ahead at the 10:48 mark, when Cox found an opening in the middle of the Eagle defense and raced 18 yards to cap a short 41-yard drive. Two drives later, Lamb converted on third and 8 with a 30-yard pass to Cox inside the GSU red zone. Lamb capped the drive with a 9-yard touchdown strike to Simms McElfresh to make it 17-7 Mountaineers.
Another three-and-out possession by the Eagles left Appalachian one final chance in the first half, but a 51-yard field goal attempt by Zach Matics sailed just left of the uprights.
As the second half began, the Eagle defense attempted to hold up its end, forcing a three-and-out on ASU’s opening drive.
On the Eagles’ first drive of the half, Ellison saw Myles Campbell break open in the middle of the field. Ellison underthrew his man, causing Campbell to trip at the Appalachian 20. The Eagles couldn’t reach the end zone, and a 35-yard field goal attempt by Alex Hanks was wide left.
“We had an opportunity to get back in the game,” Fritz said. “We got a stop and had great field position, but then we don’t score a touchdown when we have a chance to get close, and we miss a kick. That’s a big minus play that hurt us.”
After the Eagle defense held again, the offense took to the air, only to find more misfortune. Ellison got a one-on-one matchup with Ryan Longoria racing deep, but Longoria got his legs tangled with defensive back Mondo Williams. Williams stayed on his feet and easily intercepted the pass.
Three plays later, Lamb found a wide open Barrett Burns for a 33-yard touchdown, and all of the air was sucked out of the Georgia Southern sideline, as the Mountaineers increased their lead to 24-7.
As the fourth quarter rolled around, GSU backup quarterback Favian Upshaw found no more success than Ellison.
Upshaw threw away a pair of passes to set up third and long and then — trying to make something happen — fired into the arms of Mountaineer defensive back Alex Gray.
Cox put the nail in the coffin by racing around the right edge for a 6-yard touchdown. Ellison added a second touchdown run — this time from 12 yards out — to bring the scoring to a close long after the game had been put out of reach.
Georgia Southern now faces another Thursday-night contest — albeit at the much-friendlier confines of Paulson Stadium — this week as the Eagles host Texas State.
“We’ll get back to Statesboro, and (Friday), this will be out of our minds,” GSU linebacker Chris DeLaRosa said. “This loss stings, and we wish we would have done better, but we’ve got a lot more games to play, and we’ve got another one in (four) days.”