Six players to watch in Thursday night’s primetime game

Appalachian State linebacker Noel Cook leads the Mountaineers in sacks with 3.5 to go with his 35 total tackles. 

Ryan Kostensky

As you have probably heard by now, Appalachian State travels into Statesboro as a ranked opponent (No. 25) for the first time in program history. At 5-1, the Mountaineers have continued their success from recent years.

Just as App State is off to a hot start in 2018, Georgia Southern is on just as much of a tear, becoming bowl eligible in just seven games this season. Coach Chad Lunsford has revitalized a football program that was at its lowest point in history, but Lunsford has had players make significant impacts for the team’s turnaround.

Here are three Mountaineers to keep an eye out for:

Zac Thomas, Quarterback #12

After losing their all-world senior quarterback, Taylor Lamb, the Mountaineers faced the problem of having to trot out a new quarterback for the first time in a while.

Sophomore quarterback, Zac Thomas came in and filled the mold almost instantly, leading his team to an overtime loss in Happy Valley against nationally ranked Penn State. Through six games in 2018, Thomas has thrown for over 1100 yards with 11 touchdowns to only just four interceptions.

But the sophomore has been equally effective on the ground as he has through the air. Thomas has rushed for 276 yards and six touchdowns, with a long run of 62.

Noel Cook, Linebacker #20

Just as App State has been a powerhouse offensively, their defense has also been solid. Junior linebacker, Noel Cook, is one of the best players on the Mountaineer defense, leading the team in sacks with 3.5.

Cook has also accounted for 5.5 tackles for loss, as well as 35 total tackles. Cook and the Appalachian State defense will look to stop the triple-option threat that GS has revitalized in 2018.

App State’s Return Unit

The Mountaineers Special Teams return unit has been nothing but, well, special thus far. Three different players have each returned a punt for a touchdown this season.

Redshirt-freshman defensive back Steven Jones, sophomore wide receiver Thomas Hennigan, and junior defensive back Clifton Duck each have a punt returned for a touchdown, with Duck leading the with 139 return yards.

Sophomore running back Darrynton Evans returned a kickoff for 100 yards this season, and leads the team with 176 return yards.

Here are three Eagles to look at Thursday night:

The Wesley’s (Wesley Fields, Running back #20, Wesley Kennedy III, Wide Receiver #12)

Senior running back Wesley Fields has been a key factor in the GS offense in 2018. Fields has been battling injuries throughout the course of the season, missing last week’s New Mexico State game, but through his first six games, the senior running back has rushed for 472 yards and four touchdowns.

Fields has proved to be just as effective with his pass-catching skills, catching three passes for 96 yards and a touchdown.

With Wesley Fields’ recent injury woes, Wesley Kennedy III has taken on more of a load in the triple-option offense. Kennedy has three rushing touchdowns on the season, with two coming in the Eagles’ victory at NMSU last week.

Kennedy is also the team’s leading receiver with 152 yards on just seven receptions.

Monquavion Brinson, Defensive Back #4

The junior cornerback has been the cornerstone of the GS secondary. Brinson leads the team in pass break ups with eight, as well as pulling in an interception against South Alabama earlier this season.

Brinson also leads the team in tackles with 46, two more than the second most on the team. Brinson and the secondary face a tough test against an explosive Mountaineer offense.

Tyler Bass, Kicker #16

Tyler Bass has been nothing but money for the Eagles so far, not missing a kick yet through seven games. The redshirt-junior is 9-9 this season, with four of those kicks coming at 40 yards or more.

Bass has also been automatic from extra points, going 26 for his first 26, and looking to continue. The kicker has booted 29 of his 42 kickoffs through the end zone for touchbacks, as well, leaving opponents’ kickoff units useless.

The longtime rivals are set to meet in Paulson Stadium Thursday at 7:30 p.m. The game is also being televised nationally on ESPNU.

Ryan Kostensky, The George-Anne Sports Reporter, [email protected]