The No. 1 team in FCS football will hit the road after three home games for its biggest road test to date. Georgia Southern travels to Boone, North Carolina, this week to square off against No. 5 Appalachian State in a game that should go a long way in determining the Southern Conference regular season championship. The Eagles enter the game 7-0 and coming off an impressive 48-14 win over Presbyterian College. The Eagles exploded for 31 points in the second quarter while jumping out to a 38-0 halftime lead. As would be expected, the Eagles churned up 353 rushing yards while also getting 151 yards through the air in coach Jeff Monken’s option attack. The Eagles’ 504 yards marked the fourth time this season that Georgia Southern has achieved 500+ yards in a game. Jaybo Shaw triggers the offense from the quarterback spot but the senior signal-caller gets plenty of help from Jerick McKinnon, Robert Brown and freshman Dominque Swope. McKinnon ran for two scores against Presbyterian while recording 98 yards on the ground. He leads the team with eight touchdowns on the season and he has thrown for a score as well. Brown leads all running backs with 692 yards and he has found the end zone five times.
The defense of Georgia Southern is stout, having given up more than 21 points just once in a 28-27 win over Chattanooga. Darius Eubanks leads the team with 36 tackles from his spot at linebacker but the true pressure comes from John Douglas and Brent Russell on the defensive line. Douglas is a senior end and Russell is a junior tackle that both have registered four sacks apiece on the season. Laron Scott always seems to be around the football on defense. Scott has intercepted two passes, broken up 12 more, and he is a threat in the return game with a 34.7 yards per return average.
Appalachian State has issues at quarterback with Jamal Jackson having started in place of the injured DeAndre Presley the last two games. Jackson passed for 234 yards and three scores against The Citadel in a 49-42 win, then followed that performance up with a 290-yard effort against Samford with two touchdowns tossed in for good measure. Travaris Cadet has gained 516 yards on the ground this season and has rushed for over 100 yards now in back-to-back games. The real threat to run though may just be Jackson and his 171 yards on mostly scrambles. Jackson has started just two games but has played in five overall and has 11 scores on the season. Brian Quick is often the target of whichever quarterback is under center. He had four catches for 100 yards against Samford and has six scores this year on 38 receptions.
Presley, who started the first five games at quarterback, saw action at cornerback and forced a fumble early in the contest. He had six tackles after learning the position in less than one week. Rodger Walker picked off two passes while Jeremy Kimbrough and Troy Sanders each contributed nine tackles in the victory over Samford last week. Kimbrough leads all Mountaineer defenders with 51 tackles and three sacks on the season with Sanders (47) nipping at this heels.
Special teams should come into play in this contest, and Georgia Southern has a serious weapon in its kicker. Adrian Mora achieved a bit of history last week as he moved into fifth all-time in Georgia Southern’s football scoring history. Mora has over 300 points for his career in Statesboro.