Any hopes and dreams of being the first Sun Belt Conference team to play in a New Years Six bowl game may have just vanished for No. 20 Appalachian State (7-1, 4-1 Sun Belt). A slow start and an unsuccessful fourth-quarter rally resulted in a 24-21 loss to Georgia Southern (5-3, 3-1 Sun Belt) that not only deals a devasting blow to Appalachian State’s New Years Six hopes but takes the Sun Belt race into high gear entering November.
After scoring 14 points in the fourth quarter with Zac Thomas completing two touchdown passes to Corey Sutton, Appalachian State’s drive to potentially take the lead stalled with a turnover on downs with just 2:16 to play. The Mountaineers got the ball back with 1:06 to play from their own 16-yard line, but Georgia Southern’s defense came up with the final stop to deal a crushing blow to the previously undefeated Mountaineers. The only Group of Five team left standing without a loss is now SMU of the AAC. SMU will be visiting Memphis this weekend.
Georgia Southern beat Appalachian State with just one completed pass by Shai Werts, a 16-yard completion to Mark Michaud. Wesley Kennedy III anchored the offense on the ground with 145 yards and two touchdowns to lead the Eagles in their upset victory. This was just the second victory over a ranked FBS program in Georgia Southern’s history. The last one was also against Appalachian State.
Georgia Southern now controls the fate of the Sun Belt East Division thanks to a game-in-hand and a head-to-head tiebreaker with Appalachian State.
Appalachian State will look to rebound in a big way next week when they visit South Carolina for a non-conference matchup against the SEC program. A win in Columbia would still be great for the Appalachian State program, but it may not be enough this late in the season to allow the Mountaineers to catch up with the eventual champion coming out of the Amercian Athletic Conference or Mountain West Conference for the spot in the New Years Six.
Then again, Appalachian State will need help from Georgia Southern’s opponents too. Georgia Southern will be on the road next week to play Troy.
One of the two undefeated teams in action tonight is in a bit of trouble at halftime. No. 20 Appalachian State took a while to get going in the first half, but a late touchdown just before halftime has cut into Georgia Southern’s lead. The Eagles lead Appalachian State 10-7 at the half.
Appalachian State has fewer than 100 yards of offense until the last offensive series of the first half. Zac Thomas completed 10 of his 17 pass attempts in the first half for 101 yards. Appalachian State had punted on each of their first-half possessions until the final drive of the half ended with Thomas connecting with Malik Williams for a highlight-worthy touchdown catch.
Georgia Southern started its second offensive series at midfield and worked a seven-play drive ending with Wesley Kennedy III scoring on a short touchdown run to give the upset-minded Eagles an early 7-0 lead. A field goal in the second quarter extended the lead to 10-0.
Appalachian State worked their best offensive series of the half after going down 10-0 and managed to crack the scoreboard just before halftime, but the offense has some work to do if Appalachian State is to keep their New Years Six bowl hopes alive.
And now for a quarterback award watch list that won’t include a certain starting quarterback form Clemson or Alabama. The Johnny Unitas Foundation has released the watch list for the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award, presented annually to college football’s top senior or fourth-year quarterback. This year’s watch list includes some recognizable names such as Oklahoma’s Jalen Hurts and Oregon’s Justin Herbert.
Former Washington State quarterback Gardner Minshew was named the winner of the award in 2018. Just one finalist for the 2018 award is on the watch list this season. Michigan’s Shea Patterson is that player (UCF’s McKenzie Milton was a finalist last year but is not expected to play this season despite still being at UCF as he recovers from his season-ending injury from late in 2018).
Other past winners include Deshaun Watson (2016), Marcus Mariota (2014), Andrew Luck (2011), Matt Ryan (2007), Eli Manning (2003), Carson Palmer (2002) and Peyton Manning (1997).
2019 Golden Arm Award Watch List Presented by A. O. Smith
- Jack Abraham, Southern Mississippi
- Blake Barnett, University of South Florida
- Woody Barrett, Kent State
- Jake Bentley, University of South Carolina
- Anthony Brown, Boston College
- Kelly Bryant, Missouri
- Joe Burrow, LSU
- Stephen Buckshot Calvert, Liberty
- Marcus Childers, Northern Illinois
- K.J. Costello, Stanford Unversity
- Jacob Eason, Washington University
- Caleb Evans, University of Louisiana Monroe
- Mason Fine, North Texas
- Feleipe Franks, University of Florida
- Mitchell Guadagni, Toledo
- Jarrett Guarantano, University of Tennessee
- Gage Gubrud, Washington State University
- Quentin Harris, Duke University
- Justin Herbert, University of Oregon
- Kelvin Hopkins, Jr., Army
- Tyler Huntley, University of Utah
- Jalen Hurts, University of Oklahoma
- Josh Jackson, University of Maryland
- D’Eriq King, Houston
- Brian Lewerke, Michigan State University
- Jordan Love, Utah State University
- Jake Luton, Oregon State University
- Cole McDonald, University of Hawaii
- Justin McMillan, Tulane
- Steven Montez, University of Colorado
- James Morgan, FIU
- Riley Neal, Vanderbilt University
- Kato Nelson, Akron
- Shea Patterson, University of Michigan
- Bryce Perkins, University of Virginia
- Malcolm Perry, Navy
- Peyton Ramsey, Indiana University
- Armani Rogers, UNLV
- Nathan Rourke, Ohio
- Anthony Russo, Temple University
- J’Mar Smith, Louisiana Tech
- Nate Stanley, University of Iowa
- Dillon Sterling-Cole, Arizona State University
- Khalil Tate, University of Arizona
- Zac Thomas, Appalachian State University
- Skylar Thompson, Kansas State
- Brady White, University of Memphis
- Ryan Willis, Virginia Tech
- Brandon Wimbush, University of Central Florida
For the first time in conference history, the Sun Belt Conference held a conference championship game. That makes Appalachian State (10-2, 7-1 Sun Belt) the first program in history to win the Sun Belt Conference championship game after topping Louisiana (7-6, 5-3 Sun Belt) on Saturday afternoon. With the win, Appalachian State will head to the R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl as the conference champion.
Appalachian State’s defense forced two turnovers and added a turnover on downs in the final minutes to help seal the 30-19 victory over the Ragin’ Cajuns. After a tight first half of play, which saw the Mountaineers head to the locker room with a 14-6 advantage on Louisiana, the Mountaineers took care of business in the second half when it counted the most. A 20-16 lead going to the fourth quarter was increased to 27-16 with a Zac Thomas touchdown run of 35 yards. Thomas scored two touchdowns on the ground while having a quiet game through the air. Combined with 111 rushing yards by Darrynton Evans and the ability fo the defense to lock things down in the fourth quarter, there was no question Appalachian State was the best team in the Sun Belt Conference on this day, and this season.
This is the first outright conference championship for Appalachian State since moving up to the FBS ranks in 2014. The Mountaineers earned a share of the conference title each of the last two seasons before the introduction of the conference championship game. It has been a steady climb up the Sun Belt since moving up from the FCS, and now head coach Scott Satterfield has an outright conference championship to celebrate as the latest crowning achievement for the program.
Appalachian State will play in the New Orleans Bowl on Dec. 15. They will face an opponent from Conference USA, with the likely opponent expected to be either UAB or Middle Tennessee. Louisiana is still eligible to go to a bowl game, but will have to wait and see what bowl game they will be attending.
Just days after cracking the AP Top 25 for the first time in program history, No. 25 Appalachian State (5-2, 3-1 Sun Belt) is about to fall out of the ranking. The Mountaineers were blown out on the road by Georgia Southern (7-1, 4-0 Sun Belt) Thursday night, 34-14.
Appalachian State’s offense, already playing without an injured running back Jalin Moore, took another tough loss with quarterback Zac Thomas being knocked out of the game. Without their two best players, the offense was in complete disarray and the Eagles took advantage of the situation to seize control in the Sun Belt Conference’s East Division. Backup quarterbacks Peyton Derrick (3/12, 73 yards) and Jacob Huesman (8/14, 67 yards, 1 TD) were each intercepted twice by the Georgia Southern defense.
Georgia Southern quickly cashed in on a second-quarter interception when Darrion Anderson caught a 57-yard touchdown pass from Shai Werts for the first score of the game. After the Mountaineers tied things up at 7-7, it was all Georgia Southern from there with 27 straight points until a late touchdown by Appalachian State in the final seconds of the game. The Eagles thrived on the ground with Werts rushing for 129 yards and a touchdown while the team combined for 277 rushing yards and three rushing touchdowns.
With the win, Georgia Southern now controls the fate of the East Division. At 4-0 in conference play, the Eagles are tied with Troy in the division standings, and Appalachian State slips into third place overall and now loses on a head-to-head tiebreaker with Georgia Southern. Both Georgia Southern and Appalachian State still must play Troy, so the division is still pretty much up for grabs. Georgia Southern will face the Trojans in two weeks on November 10 after visiting Louisiana-Monroe next week.
Appalachian State will look to rebound from their second loss — which essentially knocks them out of the Group of Five hunt for a New Years Six bowl spot, even if there was just a slim chance of having that opportunity — next week when they visit Coastal Carolina.