The Mountaineers top the Eagles, 31-13

Hayden Boudreaux

Two hated rivals met to do battle tonight in Boone, N.C. with the Sun Belt conference title likely on the line. Many expected it to be a great game for the two battle hardened teams. After a great start for the Eagles, the Mountaineers ran away with the game in a 31-13 victory.

The game couldn’t have started better for the Eagles as they took control from their own 14 yard line and began ramming the ball straight at the Mountaineer defense. Running back Matt Breida was able to pick up two huge runs that totaled for 40 yards along with two big runs from L.A. Ramsby. The drive ended with the quarterback Kevin Ellison scrambling and diving into the end zone for the first score of the night.

Eagle fans hoped that the quick lead would shell shock the home team, but this rivalry has proved that anything can happen. App State worked the ball down the field with a mixture of the running and passing attack before stalling at the 30 yard line and settling for a field goal. Both teams put points on the board on their first drives and the score stood, 7-3 Eagles.

Both teams began to trade possession with penalties and lackluster blocking keeping either from getting anything going. The Eagles ended up being forced to punt the ball from their four yard line with Nowicki standing with his heels in the back of the end zone. He was able to get the kick off but the Mountaineers took over with only 41 yards between them and the goal line. They were able to work down the field and score their first touchdown and take the lead, 10-7 early in the second quarter.

With the ball back and hope to turn the tides, the Eagle drive stalled again and was forced to punt. App State used their momentum and went on a 10 play, 76 yard drive largely through the air on their way to a touchdown pass in the back of the endzone. App took a two score lead with time ticking away in the half. Neither team would put another point on the board this half as time expired on a missed 49 yard field goal attempt from App State.

The second half opened with the Eagles appearing as a new and improved team. The defense was able to hold App State and force them to punt the ball away on fourth down. The Eagles began working the ball down the field with the help of a huge pass from Ellison to get into the red zone. The Eagles lined up to attempt a field goal but Hanks couldn’t fit it inside the crossbars.

App State failed to get a drive going and punted back to the Eagles for another chance to get on the board. Ellison dropped back and threw a duck to the middle of the field which was picked off after his intended receiver tripped and was unable to defend the ball. Following the interception, App State’s quarterback Lamb threw to a wide open tight end in the flats who took the ball 35 yards for the score.

After the Eagles were forced to punt the ball away, they pinned the Mountaineers inside their own 15. They punted out of their end zone but a booming punt gave the Eagles possession at their own 40 yard line. However, Georgia Southern failed to put anything together on offense and the drive ended with an interception from Favian Upshaw. The Mountaineers began marching down the field again and ate up nearly five minutes before punching into the end zone again for the score, giving the Mountaineers a 31-7 lead.

In a last fight, Ellison helped the offense work down the field with time running down. After getting inside the red zone, Ramsby was able to punch in a touchdown run. A failed two-point conversion made it a 31-13 ball game. The ensuing onside kick was recovered by App and they were able run out the clock and secure their victory.

The Eagles have another Thursday night game next week that will give them a chance to bounce back on the national stage against Texas State back at Paulson Stadium.