BOONE, N.C. ?€“ Despite 557 yards of total offense and a furious fourth-quarter rally, Appalachian State University's 30-game home winning streak came to an end with a heartbreaking 38-35 loss to Georgia Southern on Saturday afternoon at Kidd Brewer Stadium.
No. 5 Appalachian (5-2, 2-2 SoCon) fell behind by two touchdowns just over two minutes into the game and trailed 38-20 with under eight minutes to play. On only his fourth play of the game, senior quarterback Trey Elder scored from on a 19-yard run to bring ASU within 11 points at 38-27.
The Mountaineers forced Georgia Southern to punt on its ensuing possession, but took over on their own nine yard line. However, On the strength of 58- and 21-yard passes from Armanti Edwards to Hans Batichon and Kevin Richardson, the Apps marched 91 yards in eight plays and 1:41, capped by a one-yard touchdown plunge by Devon Moore that cut the deficit to 38-33. Elder came back into the contest and completed a pass to Batichon for a two-point conversion that made it 38-35 with 2:02 left to play.
ASU stuffed GSU on three-straight plays and took all three of its timeouts to force the Eagles to punt again with 1:10 remaining on the clock. Dexter Jackson fielded the Daniel Jordan kick at the ASU 46 and returned it inside the GSU 20, seemingly setting up at least a game-tying field goal. However, the return was called back due to an illegal-block penalty and six plays later, Edwards came up a yard short on fourth-and-11 to end the ballgame.
Making only his third start of the year and first since Sept. 22, Edwards became the first quarterback in ASU history to rush for over 200 yards with 220 yards on 29 carries. The sophomore broke his own school record for rushing yards by a quarterback (172 last Nov. 25 versus Coastal Carolina) by 48 and also threw for 178 yards to match his career high with 398 yards of total offense (also set last season against CCU).
Edwards' counterpart, Jayson Foster, was almost as spectacular for Georgia Southern. The senior lined up at three different positions (quarterback, running back and wide receiver) and finished the afternoon with 175 yards on 20 rushes, 41 yards on three receptions and 14 yards on 3-of-3 passing. GSU complemented the do-it-all Foster with a pure passer in Billy Lowe, who completed 8-of-11 passes for 145 yards and a touchdown in the victory.
With its first home loss since a 14-13 setback to Maine in the first round of the 2002 NCAA Division I-AA playoffs, Appalachian put itself in a precarious position to defend its back-to-back Southern Conference championships, as only one team with two conference losses (5-2 Furman in 1981) has even shared a SoCon title in the 85-year history of the league. However, there are no undefeated teams remaining in the SoCon this season following Wofford's 24-13 loss to Elon on Saturday.
The Mountaineers will look to rebound when they travel to longtime-rival Furman next Saturday. The game kicks off at 3 p.m. and will be televised live on SportSouth.
NOTES: Saturday's crowd of 28,202 was the second-largest in Appalachian history, behind only the 28,802 that witnessed ASU's 48-7 win over Lenoir-Rhyne in this season's home opener ?€¦ Richardson scored both of ASU's first-half touchdowns, marking the 19th time in his career and fourth time in the last five games that ASU's all-time touchdown king has scored multiple touchdowns in a game ?€¦ senior Hans Batichon caught four passes for 95 yards to go over the 1,000-yard career receiving mark with 1,061 ?€¦ offensive tackle Mario Acitelli (leg) was injured in the first quarter and will likely miss a number of games.