Georgia Southern ends three game losing streak to No. 25 Appalachian State with 34-14 blowout

Senior running back Wesley Fields rushes in for a touchdown against App State. The senior had two touchdowns and 98 yards in the win. 

McClain Baxley

Earlier in the week, first-year head coach Chad Lunsford asked his players to raise their hands if they had ever beaten Appalachian State. Only a handful were eligible to do so.

After Thursday night’s 34-14 pummeling of their rivals, all of the Eagles will be able to raise their hands high.

The game began as a defensive standstill, but on the second play of the second quarter, everything that redshirt-sophomore quarterback Shai Werts had been hoping for began to fall into place.

Werts stood in the pocket and launched a 57 yard bomb that went to a wide-open Darion Anderson for a touchdown, Anderson’s second of the season.

“We knew coming what kind of game it was going to be,” Werts said. “It was going to be a dog fight, so we prepared for that all week. It didn’t surprise me.”

The confidence that Werts had going in was shared by the rest of his teammates who were electric all night, in all three phases of the game.

Each defensive snap, the team flew around to the ball, while staying disciplined. Each hit was celebrated for a moment, but then they collected themselves.

As has always been the case in Paulson this season, the players played with a sense of pride, passion and persistence that just hasn’t been as evident on the road.

The celebration after the first score was exciting, but soon became premature as the Mountaineers tied the game just five plays later.

The ensuing drive looked to be another GS three-and-out, but then the “Power of Paulson” kicked in.

Redshirt-sophomore punter Magill Baurle punted the ball to App State’s Clifton Duck, who waved his hand to signal a fair catch.

With redshirt-sophomore Dexter Carter Jr. breathing down his neck, Duck muffed the catch, setting the Eagles up with the ball on the App State on the 10 yard line.

The next play, senior running back Wesley Fields trotted into the endzone, untouched, for his first score of the night.

Prior to Thursday, Fields was one of seven true seniors who had never beaten the team from Boone, North Carolina. In postgame interviews, the emotion of beating them set in.

“Coming in my freshman year, just seeing all the older heads working and knowing about the winning tradition and just being a part of a winning program and then the two years being on the downhill and this year we’re just trying to turn it around,” Fields said, fighting back tears. “To come out here and do this tonight is amazing.”

{{tncms-inline account=”Captain” html=”<blockquote class="twitter-tweet"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">A <a href="https://twitter.com/fields2000?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@fields2000</a> touchdown should do it. 34-7 GS with 3:28 in the game. Security guards are moving away from the gates. <a href="https://t.co/OlxDtAxfop">pic.twitter.com/OlxDtAxfop</a></p>— Captain (@McclainBaxley) <a href="https://twitter.com/McclainBaxley/status/1055646752144089088?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">October 26, 2018</a></blockquote>” id=”https://twitter.com/McclainBaxley/status/1055646752144089088″ type=”twitter”}}

It was amazing. In his final game against App State, Fields went for 98 yards and two touchdowns after sitting out last week against New Mexico State with a groin injury.

The captain and vocal leader of the senior motivated the rest of the team, putting into perspective how big the victory was.

“When Wesley scored that last touchdown, he kind of teared up a little bit,” Werts said. “I hugged him and told him ‘Bro, we did it.’ That’s what we’re all about.”

The Eagles were also all about the defense Thursday night. Once again, the GS defense held an opponent to under 20 points—the fifth time they did that.

Junior cornerback Kindle Vildor added two more interceptions to his growing collection of seven on his career. Each one was from a different quarterback.

And though he had as many tackles as he had interceptions, Vildor was quick to give credit to the rest of his secondary.

“With two good corners out there, they might throw to Monquavion [Brinson] and be like ‘Man we can’t throw it over there’ then boom it opens it up for me,” Vildor said. “Without the safeties, we couldn’t do it.”

Briefly, Lunsford tried to underplay what his team had just done. But even he, with the clock looming closer and closer to zero had to be held back.

As Werts kneeled to end the final nine seconds, the barricade of hungry students overflowed onto Glenn Bryant Field in celebration and exasperation.

Thursday’s game was the first time a ranked opponent played in Paulson and it’s unknown when another will come.

What is known is that the winning ways are back again in Statesboro. And for the entire GS team, it’s only the beginning.

“We’re still not satisfied,” Werts said. “It’s big to get this win, but we’re going for conference championships. And then a bowl game. The next step on the list is a conference championship.”

{{tncms-inline account=”Ryan Kostensky” html=”<blockquote class="twitter-tweet"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">EAGLES WIN! Georgia Southern tips #25 Appalachian State, 34-14 to improve to 7-1 on the season. <a href="https://t.co/jnAZBmNb1f">pic.twitter.com/jnAZBmNb1f</a></p>— Ryan Kostensky (@RyanKostensky) <a href="https://twitter.com/RyanKostensky/status/1055650386487468033?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">October 26, 2018</a></blockquote>” id=”https://twitter.com/RyanKostensky/status/1055650386487468033″ type=”twitter”}}

McClain Baxley, The George-Anne Sports Editor, [email protected]