By Justin Gray
Georgia Southern football has great program traditions and history. One of those is playing rival Appalachian State annually since 1993. The first game of this rivalry was played all the way back in 1932, and App State leads the series 20-16-1. This year has been full of ups and downs for both schools. Both have wins over proven Power Five programs and have good wins in conference play.
This year the game was in Statesboro, with bowl eligibility on the line for both schools. This game was built for a shootout. The first half was a bit sloppy for both teams as App State held the advantage 20-17.
After the half, it was up and down the field for both teams. App State got it first and picked up a field goal. The Eagles scored on the next possession on a Tyler Jordan touchdown run. App State went back ahead with a touchdown of their own making it 31-24. The Eagles responded quickly with an eight play 75-yard drive, capping it off with a Kyle Vantrease pass to Evan Lester. The back and forth game kept going as the Eagles couldn’t stop the run game, giving up another touchdown. App State was ahead 38-31 and both teams traded possessions several times. Georgia Southern finally punched one in on a Kyle Vantrease QB draw to tie it at 38. Both teams got a shot to win the game, and it seemed App State was going to win it when they were set up for a 30 yard field goal, but the kicker missed it wide right, and we had overtime!
In overtime, Georgia Southern got the ball first and Kyle Vantrease hit Jjay Mcafee to take the lead. It didn’t last long as App State responded with a touchdown of their own. App State got the ball to start the second overtime. The Eagles came up with their best stop of the night, and held App State to a field goal. Now the Eagles, down 48-45, only needed a touchdown to win the game. Kyle Vantrease took the snap with plenty of time to sit back and read the defense. He went to scramble before he set his feet and hit Ezrah Archie for the 25-yard touchdown and the win!
This win was huge, as they are now bowl eligible. This is a huge accomplishment in year-one of a new head coach. Congrats to Coach Helton and the Georgia Southern Eagles on accomplishing this feat. The Eagles bowl game destination will be in next week’s paper as it will be unveiled on Sunday.