Mountaineers cruise past Georgia Southern
by Steve Behr Sports Editor
Appalachian State took out a season's worth of frustration out on one of its biggest rivals Saturday with a 38-14 victory over No. 24 Georgia Southern in front of 23,901 at Kidd Brewer Stadium.
It was Appalachian State's first victory at home 2012 and the Mountaineers' third straight win over the Eagles.
"Our kids had a little something about them this week," Mountaineers coach Scott Satterfield said. "I don't know what it was. We talked about today was the day. Everything was going to come together."
Appalachian State (2-6, 2-3 SoCon) did lots of things it didn't do during the four-game losing streak the Mountaineers snapped. They were more aggressive with their offense by throwing down field and relied less short passes.
The result was a revived passing game and offense overall. Quarterback Kameron Bryant threw for a personal record 381 yards and two touchdown passes. Bryant also ran for touchdowns of two and seven yards in the first half.
"We knew Kam had to have a great day," Satterfield said. "The quarterback position had to have a great day."
Bryant completed 32-of-40 passes for 307 yards and a touchdown the previous week in a 27-10 loss to Furman. App State also collected 30 first downs, but turned the ball over five times in the loss.
That was not the cast against the Eagles.
Bryant completed 27-of-33 passes and no interceptions before leaving in the fourth quarter with the Mountaineers in front 38-14. Andrew Peacock, who caught 10 passes for 127 yards, and Tony Washington, who caught five passes for 129 yards, were his favorite targets.
"Kam played an outstanding game," Satterfield said. "We took care of the football. We knew we would have some outside matchups out on the perimeter and we challenged our receivers to go out and make plays."
Georgia Southern (4-3, 2-3) was the only team to turn the ball over, first on a fumble, and then on a Doug Middleton interception in the fourth quarter.
Appalachian State found it's vertical passing game in the first half when Bryant completed four passes that went for 19 or more yards, including a 40-yarder to Tony Washington that went to the Georgia Southern 25-yard line. It eventually set up a 2-yard Bryant touchdown run that tied the game 7-7.
Bryant also found Simms McElfresh for a 30-yard completion that set up App State's second touchdown, a 7-yard Bryant run that gave the Mountaineers a 17-7 lead with 24 seconds left in the first half.
Bryant, who completed 16-of-19 passes for 218 yards in the first half, also completed a 20-yard pass to Malachi Jones.
Bryant also connected on a 19-yarder to Peacock, who had seven of his receptions in the first half.
Georgia Southern struck first with a seven-play, 80-yard drive capped by a 9-yard TD run by Jerick McKinnon with 8:31 left in the first quarter.
McKinnon, the leading rusher in the SoCon going into the game, sprained his ankle in the first quarter. Georgia Southern finished with 363 total yards, well below the 491.7 yards the Eagles averaged going into the game.
Georgia Southern's 291 rushing yards were 78 yards below its season average. To be fair, Georgia Southern also has lost 16 players to injury for the season and two others for different reasons. Losing McKinnon, who averaged 132 yards per game before Saturday, did not help the Eagles' offense.
"The defense did an outstanding job containing their offense," Satterfield said. "I think they were hindered a little bit when they lost McKinnon. He's probably their best player."