Kyle Vantrease threw a 25-yard touchdown pass to Ezrah Archie in the second overtime session to lift GS Eagles to a 51-48 Sun Belt football win over longtime rival Appalachian State Saturday evening in Allen E. Paulson Stadium.
The victory clinches bowl eligibility for the Eagles, who complete the regular season with a 6-6 record.
The Eagles had the ball first in the first overtime session, and Vantrease’s 12-yard completion to Khaleb Hood and a holding penalty on the Mountaineer defense helped set up a 4-yard touchdown pass from Vantrease to Jjay Mcafee. Appalachian State scored on the first play of their first possession in the extra session as Nate Noel (171 yards, 3 TDs) broke free for a 25-yard touchdown run to tie the score 45-45.
The Eagles forced Michael Hughes to make a 32-yard field goal on Appalachian State’s second possession in overtime after Wylan Free broke up a Chase Brice pass intended for Henry Pearson on 3rd-and-12.
Eagles of the Game:
Vantrease finished with 385 passing yards and three touchdowns and added 17 yards and a touchdown on the ground, and Jeremy Singleton caught 10 balls for 133 yards. Hood totaled 99 yards on nine catches, and Archie had five receptions for 71 yards to go along with the game-winning score. AJ Brown ran for 62 yards and a touchdown.
With the score tied 38-38, Appalachian State had two opportunities to win the game in regulation. A 38-yard completion from Brice to Christan Horn up the right sideline set up a 29-yard field goal try, but Hughes hooked it left as the final horn sounded.
App drove to the GS 26-yard line late in the game, but on 3rd-and-1, Eagle Kierron Smith tackled Ahmani Marshall for no gain. Rather than attempt the go-ahead field goal there, App tried Marshall up the middle again, and Anthony Wilson (11 tackles, 10 solo) stopped him for no gain, turning the ball over to the Eagles with 1:44 to play.
With the Eagles trailing by a touchdown, two Vantrease completions to Hood for 40 yards helped set up the game-tying drive, and the fifth-year quarterback capped it with a 3-yard touchdown run with 4:22 to play. Alex Raynor added the point after to tie the score 38-38.
Appalachian State broke a 31-31 tie early in the fourth quarter when Marshall scored on a 2-yard touchdown run. Marshall did most of the work on the drive, picking up 57 yards on eight carries.
The Eagles took a 24-23 lead in the third quarter thanks to some trickery. GS lined up for a field goal on 4th-and-2 from the Appalachian State 10-yard line, but holder Anthony Beck took the snap and ran an option to the right, pitching to Raynor, who picked up the first down. Tyler Jordan found the end zone from two yards out to plays later, making the score 24-23 midway through the third quarter.
The Mountaineers (6-6, 3-5) came right back as Brice hooked up with Henry Pearson for a 40-yard gain through the air. Daetrich Harrington did the rest, picking up 39 yards on one run before finishing the drive with 4-yard touchdown run. Brice threw to Noel for the two-point conversion and a 31-24 App cushion.
Georgia Southern (6-6, 3-5) tied the score 31-31 on a 2-yard touchdown pass from Vantrease to Evan Lester. Vantrease set up the score with a 50-yard completion to Joshua Thompson who lost his balance while making the catch and was called down at the 3-yard line.
Key Stats and Notes:
– It was the first overtime game for the Eagles since a 30-27 triple OT win vs. Coastal Carolina Oct. 19, 2019.
– The Eagles have won seven of their last eight overtime games.
– It was the highest scoring game in the history of the series.
– This is the third straight year that Georgia Southern and Appalachian State have faced each other on the last day of the regular season.
– Twenty-one seniors were honored before the game as they played their last game in Paulson Stadium.