Aerial assault dooms Eagles

Randall Hampton

The Georgia Southern University football team had no answer for Appalachian State University’s passing game as the Mountaineers dominated GSU 38 -14 in a preview of Sun Belt Conference matchups to come.

App. State redshirt sophomore quarterback Kameron Bryant lit up the Eagles’ secondary for 381 yards and two passing touchdowns.  GSU could only force him to throw six incomplete passes for the whole game.

Bryant had a big day, but the Mountaineers started the game in a 7-0 hole.  GSU strung together four big plays in the running game on its opening drive including a 19-yard run by redshirt freshman quarterback Kevin Ellison. Senior running back Jerick McKinnon would score on the next play from nine yards out.

In a scene far too familiar for Eagles fans this season, McKinnon would get up slowly after a run and end up on the sideline with an injury.  McKinnon tried to play on the injured ankle, but after one carry he limped to the sideline for good.

“Anytime you lose a player like Jerick it’s going to hurt the team,” redshirt freshman running back Irving Huggins said.  “People have to step up and play.”

Huggins stepped up and rushed for 78 yards on 17 carries, and Ellison led the Eagles with 95 rushing yards and a touchdown.  Ellison also had 72 passing yards, but in the end App. State was too much for GSU.

The Mountaineers scored on six straight possessions as Bryant picked apart a GSU secondary, missing junior cornerback Valdon Cooper.  App. State senior wide receivers Andrew Peacock and Tony Washington had monster games with over 125 receiving yards each.

“We just let them throw the ball at will,” head coach Jeff Monken said.  “They got us on a lot of double moves and some big plays.”

One of those big plays came right after GSU scored to make the game 31-14 in the third quarter.  Washington beat GSU senior cornerback Lavelle Westbrooks up the right sideline and was wide open for a 29-yard touchdown.

App. State was 1-6 coming into the game and GSU had an extra week to prepare for the Mountaineers, but the Eagles just do not play well in Boone, N.C.  GSU has not beaten App. State at home since 2007 and has dropped three straight to the Mountaineers overall.

“I’m frustrated and it hurts to lose. It hurts to lose to those guys and it hurts to lose period,” Monken said. “I thought our team was ready and I thought we had a couple really good weeks of practice.”

GSU fell to 4-3 overall on Saturday and 2-3 in the Southern Conference.  The Eagles will host the Furman University Paladins Saturday at 1 p.m.