Eagles travel to Boone Thursday for second straight rivalry game

Georgia Southern defensive tackle Ty Phillips looks to pressure the quarterback against Georgia State.

Thomas Jilk

The Georgia Southern football team will face a quick turnaround this week as they prepare to face Appalachian State in Boone, N.C. on Thursday night at 7:30 p.m.

The game will be broadcast nationally on ESPNU as the 0-8 Eagles will take on the 5-4 Mountaineers, who are second place in the Sun Belt. Last season, App State won 34-10 in another Thursday matchup.

Still searching

Interim GS head coach Chad Lunsford made no excuses after Saturday’s loss to Georgia State. he said his team needs to learn “how to win” and specifically how to finish games in which they hold a lead.

“Ball security, ball security, ball security,” Lunsford said on Saturday when asked how his team could better finish a game.

He was referring to the costly fumbles by experienced players like junior running back Wesley Fields and senior slotback Myles Campbell that resulted in points for Georgia State.

He said ball security is a “constant thing that we continue to work on” and “why that didn’t show up today, I don’t know.”

Getting defensive

The Eagles’ defense was vastly and obviously improved on Saturday as they limited big plays allowed over the top. Notably, GS managed four sacks and consistently put pressure on the quarterback, something that has not happened much this season.

However, GS did allow big passing plays at key times, a habit that will need to stop at App State if the Eagles have a chance to pull off the upset.

Players to watch

For App State, junior running back Jalin Moore has been wearing down defenses all season. He’s run for 563 yards and averaged five yards per carry so far.

Senior quarterback Taylor Lamb has been the picture of consistency throughout his career, topping a 60 percent completion rate this season for the fourth year in a row. He’s tossed 19 touchdowns and just four interceptions.

App State inside linebacker Eric Boggs has had three 10-tackle games this season, and he is likely to get drafted into the NFL in 2018.

For GS, quarterback Shai Werts seemed to make strides in the passing game against Georgia State. He was 22-of-28 for 147 yards and a touchdown, and his accuracy was clearly on point.

He’ll need another big day on Thursday not only passing, but leading the rushing attack and making good decisions in the option game.

The GS defense is finally mostly healthy, and junior safety Josh Moon and sophomore corner Monquavion Brinson are ball hawks that have game-changing turnover-creating ability.

Senior linebacker Chris DeLaRosa will come into his final game against App State second on the team in tackles, looking for revenge and to ultimately to help his team earn a win.

“I’ve been looking forward to App State because that was the game I got hurt in last year,” DeLaRosa said on Saturday.

He got his second interception of the year on Saturday and returned it for 15 yards. He has been the anchor on defense for GS all season long, beginning with a forced fumble that led to the Eagles’ only touchdown in opening week against Auburn.

Watch the game Thursday at 7:30 p.m. HERE.