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Thriller in Statesboro: Apps Beat Georgia Southern, 37-36
Courtesy: Appalachian State Sports Information
Release: Saturday 10/18/2008 (ET)
Courtesy: Keith Cline
Armanti Edwards accounted for 333 of ASUs 454 total yards and all five touchdowns Saturday's win.

STATESBORO, Ga. Writing perhaps the most dramatic chapter in the always-thrilling Appalachian State-Georgia Southern rivalry, No. 2 Appalachian took the lead with 2:36 to play and stood up GSU in the red zone twice in the final two minutes to hold on for a 37-36 win on Saturday afternoon at Paulson Stadium.

Armanti Edwards almost single-handedly led Appalachian (5-2, 3-0 SoCon) in the heart-stopping triumph, accounting for 333 of ASU’s 454 total yards and all five touchdowns in the win.

Edwards capped off his amazing performance by flying over the Mountaineer front for a one-yard touchdown dive on fourth-and-goal that gave the Apps a 37-34 advantage with 2:36 to go in the ballgame. The fourth-down conversion was the second of the drive for the Mountaineers, as Edwards eluded several would-be tacklers in the backfield on fourth-and-five from the GSU 43 before finding CoCo Hillary for a 15-yard gain to keep the possession alive.

Immediately following Edwards’ score, Georgia Southern (3-4, 1-3 SoCon) marched 69 yards in four plays to the ASU 13 yard line. On third-and-eight, defensive back Travis Dowdaintercepted GSU quarterback Antonio Henton at the goal line to seemingly seal the Appalachian victory. However, the officials ruled Dowda down inches outside the goal line and on ASU’s first play after the turnover, GSU’s Larry Beard stopped Edwards for a safety that cut the Mountaineer advantage to 37-36.

After the free kick, the Eagles took over on their 42 yard line and moved all the way to the Mountaineer 27 before a huge sack by Anthony Williams pushed the Eagles back to the ASU 39. After two incomplete passes, safety Mark LeGree intercepted Henton at the goal line on fourth-and-22 with 14 seconds remaining. The officials again spotted the the ball inside the one yard line, but after a brief discussion, the ruling to a touchback and Edwards took a knee on the final play to run out the clock.

The fourth-quarter was a microcosm of the entire game, as the affair featured eight lead changes.

Appalachian opened strong with a nine-play, 80-yard drive that was capped by an acrobatic catch in the corner of the end zone by B.J. Frazier on an option run-turned-pass from Edwards, giving ASU a 7-0 edge less than five minutes in.

After GSU kicked a field goal on its initial possession and forced an ASU punt on the next series, the Eagles took their first lead of the game when Raja Andrews returned the Mountaineer punt 84 yards for a touchdown. The touchdown return was the fourth allowed by Appalachian this season (two kickoffs and two punts).

Georgia Southern extended its lead to 13-7 on a 37-yard Adrian Mora field goal early in the second period, but Appalachian regained the advantage on its ensuing possession when Edwards directed a six-play, 62-yard drive, capped by his five-yard touchdown run that made it 14-13, ASU.

It remained 14-13 until the Eagles put together their first sustained drive of the afternoon, a 10-play, 80-yard series that culminated with a four-yard touchdown run by quarterback Antonio Henton that gave GSU a 20-14 halftime advantage.

The Mountaineers started fast again in the second half, turning the halftime deficit into a 24-20 lead on a 14-yard touchdown pass from Edwards to Brian Quick and a 22-yard Jason Vitaris field goal.

The advantage flip-flopped three more times over the next 7:13, with Michael McIntosh’s 15-yard touchdown catch from Henton giving Georgia Southern a 34-31 lead with 9:46 left in the game and setting up the wild flurry at the finish.

In all, Edwards ran 33 times for 157 yards and three touchdowns and completed 12-of-22 passes for 176 yards and two more scores. Josh Johnson was his top target, hauling in four receptions for 49 yards. Devin Radford chipped in with 76 yards on the ground and one catch for seven yards.

Defensively, the Mountaineers were paced by Williams, who had one-and-a-half sacks among his five tackles and forced a fumble. Linebacker Jacque Roman tallied a team-best 11 stops and cornerback Cortez Gilbert notched seven tackles and broke up three passes.

Henton finished with 292 yards through the air and 99 on the ground in the loss.

Appalachian’s triumph marked the first time it has ever won back-to-back games at Georgia Southern, while its 37 points were the it has ever scored in Statesboro. For the first time in the series that dates back to 1932, the visiting team has won three-straight decisions.

Standing at 3-0 in Southern Conference play for only the 11th time in their 37 years in the league, the Mountaineers host longtime rival Furman next Saturday at Kidd Brewer Stadium. The “Black Saturday” kickoff is set for 3:30 p.m.

NOTES: Only a junior, Edwards moved into second on the SoCon’s all-time total offense list with 8,755 career yards, surpassing East Tennessee State’s Todd Wells (8,711 yards 1997-2000) ... Edwards trails only his predecessor as ASU’s signal-caller, Richie Williams, who amassed 9,370 total yards from 2002-05 ... Edwards rushed for 100 yards for the 15th time in 33 career games ... his 15 100-yard rushing games are the most by any current FCS that is not a senior ... ASU defensive back Leonard Love (ankle) left the game in the first half and did not return ... his status will be reevaluated on Sunday ... Dowda had five tackles to go along with the late interception in Love’s stead ... running back Robert Welton (shoulder) dud not play ... Appalachian took a 12-11-1 lead in the all-time series between the two schools ... Georgia Southern donned blue pants instead of its traditional white for the first time since a 17-16 loss to Appalachian in Boone in 1999.

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