STATESBORO, Ga. - Georgia Southern had two opportunities late in the game at a chance for the win but fell short, losing to second-ranked Appalachian State 37-36 at Paulson Stadium on Saturday (Oct. 18). The Eagles dropped to 3-4 overall and 1-3 in the Southern Conference (all three losses by a combined four points).
Appalachian (5-2, 3-0) took a three-point lead with 2:36 remaining when Armanti Edwards stuck the ball across the goal line on 4th-and-goal from the one. The Eagles moved quickly down the field.
On the ensuing drive, Antonio Henton connected with Tim Camp across the middle and was off to the races. Mark LeGree made what could have been a game-saving tackle on the ASU 18. After two rushes by Henton, the Eagles faced 3rd-and-8. Henton's throw was intercepted by Travis Dowda at the half-yard line with 1:33 remaining.
On the first play, Edwards set up in the shotgun and was quickly swarmed by the defense as Larry Beard was credited with the safety, making it a one-point game. On the kick the Eagles regained possession when Andrews returned it to the GS 42.
Henton had two incomplete passes before rushing 10 yards for a first down. The sophomore quarterback found Camp again, this time for 26 yards down to the ASU 27. However, a sack and intentional grounding penalty pushed the Eagles back to the 39. Two passes fell incomplete setting up fourth down. Henton tried going for Andrews, but LeGree intercepted the pass in the endzone and the Mountaineers were able to escape with the win.
"Some how we just have to find a way to win these close ones. It's just a play here or there that comes back to get us. Sooner or later our luck has to change," said Georgia Southern head coach Chris Hatcher. "We played hard and went toe to toe with the No. 2 team in the country. They have a fine football team but we're not very far behind. This is going to be tough to come back from but our guys need to do that to get ready for next week. We had our chances but we just didn't make the plays. We just have to do a better job of executing for the entire game."
Patrick Bolen sent the opening kickoff into the endzone as Appalachian took over on its own 20. Nine plays later Edwards found B.J. Frazier on an 11-yard touchdown pass in the back corner of the endzone for a 7-0 lead.
The Eagles responded with a 13-play drive to get into the red-zone. Adrian Mora converted a 24-yard field goal making it 7-3 with 6:16 left in the first quarter.
Georgia Southern held the Mountaineers to a 3-and-out, including two sacks on Edwards, to force a punt. Andrews tied a GS individual career record, and helped the team tie a season record, when he caught Neil Young's punt on his own 16 and raced 84 yards for a touchdown. Thanks to his second career punt return for a TD (and second by the Eagles in as many games) he became the fourth Eagle to equal that career record, giving the Eagles a 10-7 lead.
On the first play of the second quarter Adam Urbano broke through on a 21-yard run, getting inside the Mountaineers' 10. Mora nailed a 37-yard field goal to make it 13-7.
Edwards scored from five yards out on 3rd-and-goal, and Jason Vitaris' extra point gave Appalachian a 14-13 lead with 10:16 left in the second quarter.
The Eagles staged a 10-play drive from their own 20 right before halftime. Henton found Marcus Russ on 3rd-and-10 for a 21-yard gain. Later in the drive, Henton connected with Michael McIntosh for 40 yards, down to the ASU seven. Three plays later Henton scored from four yards out, making it 20-14 at the half.
On 3rd-and-13 from the Eagles' 14, Edwards lofted a pass for Brian Quick in the endzone. Ronnie Wiggins went up for the deflection, but it was just over his reach as the Mountaineers took a 21-20 lead with 9:22 left in the third. Later in the quarter ASU put together a 13-play drive, getting inside the Eagles' 10, but settled for a Vitaris 22-yard field goal for a 24-20 lead.
Once again, the lead would change hands. On the Eagles' ensuing drive Henton and Andrews connected on a 55-yard reception (the longest reception of Andrews' career), getting down to the 11. Three plays later Henton scored from a yard out, and Mora's extra point made it 27-24 GS.
Early in the fourth quarter Appalachian marched 60 yards in 10 plays, capped by Edwards' 1-yard run for a 31-27 lead.
Henton and the Eagles took possession on their own 34. After two rushes by Henton to gain a first down, the Mountaineers were flagged for consecutive 15-yard penalties after the play, setting up the Eagles on the ASU 26. Henton rushed for 11 yards, then hit McIntosh for a 15-yard touchdown pass. Mora made it 34-31 with just under 10 minutes remaining.
Henton completed 16-of-38 passes for 292 yards and a touchdown, six yards shy of his season-high and the sixth-highest passing yardage total in program history. He also rushed for 99 yards on 25 carries and scored twice.
Andrews caught a game-high six passes totaling 97 yards. With 91 career receptions, the senior wide receiver is now two away from tying Monty Sharpe's all-time record.
Camp caught three passes for a career-high 99 yards. McIntosh caught two passes for 55 yards and a score.
Chris Covington had only two sacks in his career entering the game. He matched that total Saturday, recording 11 tackles in all and 3.5 for a loss (24 yards). Covington and the defense sacked Edwards four times in all.
Quentin Taylor recorded 12 stops, including 1.5 for a loss. Terrione Benefield, Wiggins, Evan Mattingly, Chris Rogers and Damon Suggs recorded seven tackles each.
Edwards finished with 157 yards rushing and three scores while completing 12-of-22 passes for 176 yards and two more TDs.
Jacque Roman led the App defense with 11 tackles.
The Eagles travel to Western Carolina next Saturday (Oct. 25), for a 1 p.m. Southern Conference game.