Appalachian State has won seven straight Southern Conference titles, but Georgia Southern entered the Rock ranked as the No. 1 FCS team in the country, ready for a battle against the No. 5 Mountaineers. Appalachian State’s 16-game home conference winning streak was on the line at Kidd Brewer Stadium in Boone, North Carolina, but the Eagles brought their own streak into the game, an eight-game conference winning stretch. Hours before the game, snow was falling in Boone, but the weather was sunny and bright for the coin toss.
Demetrius McCray would come up with the first big play of the afternoon, intercepting Eagles QB Jaybo Shaw on the game’s opening drive to set up Appalachian State with good field position. It was Shaw’s first pick of the year. Jamal Jackson would start his third straight game at quarterback for App State while former quarterback DeAndre Presley was back at cornerback for the second straight week. Jackson quickly moved the Mountaineers down the field before finding Andrew Peacock for a 25-yard touchdown reception and an early 7-0 lead.
The first quarter would end with some fireworks as Georgia Southern was sacked on fourth down, giving Appalachian State the ball in Eagles territory with a lead. A 24-yard field goal would give App State a 10-0 lead. One year ago Appalachian State jumped out to a 14-0 lead before Georgia Southern rallied back to win 21-14 in overtime. A huge return by Laron Scott would give the Eagles the ball inside the ten, but Georgia Southern could manage just an Adrian Mora field goal. Appalachian State would cash in before the end of the half as Jackson found his favorite receiver Brian Quick on a 56-yard scoring connection for a 17-3 lead at intermission. Jackson would rack up over 200 yards of offense in the first half.
Georgia Southern would answer in the third quarter with a 12-play, 60-yard scoring drive, capped off by JJ Wilcox powering the ball in from three yards out. Georgia Southern would quickly get the ball back and jet down the field, but Shaw was stopped cold on fourth-and-goal, giving App State the ball back. The Eagles wouldn’t be held off the scoreboard for long, however, as the defense forced a punt which Darrieon Robinson returned 46 yards for a touchdown to tie the game 17-17.
Jackson and Quick would respond though, hooking up for a 15-yard touchdown on a crucial third down. The reception capped off a nine-play, 67-yard drive. Then it was the Mountaineer defense’s turn to step up, which it did thanks to its former quarterback. Presley knocked away a fourth down pass into the end zone to stall another Eagles’ drive near the goal line. The defense would come up with a Georgia Southern fumble with under two minutes left to ice the Appalachian State 24-17 victory.
With the victory, Mountaineers coach Jerry Moore evened his all-time record against Georgia Southern at 10-10. The Eagles had been the only Southern Conference program that held a winning record against Moore. Jackson finished with 276 total yards and three passing touchdowns for Appalachian State. Shaw threw two interceptions, both finding the hands of McCray. Quick had four catches for 119 yards and two scores in the victorious effort. Defensively Brandon Grier had eight tackles for App State while Brent Russell had three tackles for a loss for the Eagles.
The Mountaineers travel to Furman next week while Georgia Southern returns to Paulson Stadium for Homecoming against The Citadel.