Old rivals meet again for the last time in SoCon

Photo by: Brandon Warnock

Will Cheney

Fans, students and cold weather will be in abundance in Boone this Saturday for the last Southern Conference meeting between Georgia Southern University and Appalachian State University.

GSU (4-2) is coming off a hard-fought SoCon win against The Citadel last week. The game saw another good performance from redshirt freshman quarterback Kevin Ellison as he got the start under center. Senior quarterback Jerick McKinnon started at running back for the Eagles and posted 198 yards on the ground in the 28-21 victory.

GSU’s defense, which had been performing relatively poor for most of the 2013 season, shined bright for the Eagles last week. The Eagles defense held The Citadel to 166 yards on the ground and only 106 yards through the air, coupled with many key stops and good special teams play.

App. State (1-6) is coming off a 27-10 loss to SoCon opponent Furman University. The Paladins took advantage of five Mountaineer turnovers in the game, one of which was a 98-yard interception returned for a touchdown.

Sophomore App. State quarterback Kameron Bryant played well as he completed 32 of 40 passing attempts for 307 yards and a touchdown. This could spell trouble for GSU’s defense as the last pocket-passing quarterback it faced picked it apart. Samford University redshirt senior Andy Summerlin threw for a school record of 495 yards against the Eagles in Birmingham earlier this season.

The meeting this season comes with fresh memories of last season’s 31-28 victory by the Mountaineers in Statesboro. The stars of the game for GSU were then-juniors running back William Banks and quarterback Jerick McKinnon. Banks ran for 129 yards and three touchdowns as McKinnon gained over 220 all-purpose yards. The most engrained memory, however, is the facemask penalty on GSU’s final drive that negated a crucial first down and a chance for an Eagle victory.

Playing App. State in Boone has been a tough draw for the Eagles since the series began. GSU owns 4-10-1 all-time record when playing the Mountaineers in Boone. Playing in front of a hostile crowd in Kidd Brewer Stadium could prove a tough obstacle, despite App. State’s 1-6 record.

This meeting may be the last SoCon matchup between the two teams, but the rivalry will live on as both programs will make the transition to the Sun Belt Conference in 2014. It may not be the last meeting, but the emotions are sure to run high on Saturday as with every other showdown in the GSU-App. State rivalry.