This Thursday, Appalachian State and Georgia Southern meet in Boone in what will be the 31st overall meeting and the 24th in the last 23 seasons. App State leads the series 16-13-1 and 13-12 in the modern era.
The winning swagger in FCS has carried over to FBS. The two teams are a combined 19-2 in Sun Belt play with one of the losses coming in last year's game. App State hasn't lost a Sun Belt game in over a calendar year and Georgia Southern still hasn't lost one.
This is a massive game and the biggest App State home game in many years.
It's easy to say that each side doesn't like the other, but the feeling goes deeper than hate. Appalachian State and Georgia Southern were two intensely proud public institutions in the private-led Southern Conference. For years both schools went to small stadiums at Furman, Elon, Wofford and Samford where 20 frat guys in blazers would curse at you from the student section. When the two met, it was almost a relief to play someone who understood you and would have more home fans than away fans. There's dislike, but there's also respect and really good football.
Looking back at the history of the rivalry, we're going to do what Georgia Southern fans do best and ignore that anything football-wise before the 1980's ever happened and focus on the highlights of the modern era. But unlike App fans, we're going to admit football existed before 2005.
Sit back and take a gulp of your Haterade as we go down memory road.
1987 - Appalachian State 19 Georgia Southern 0 - The Ice Bowl
The first meeting of the modern era came in the 1987 I-AA Quarterfinals. Georgia Southern was two-time defending I-AA National Champions. Appalachian State had just won the Southern Conference, which GaSo didn't join into the early 90's. Eagles' coach Erk Russell came out for warmups in frigid Boone in shorts and a t-shirt. It worked so well that he came after warm-ups looking like Nanook of the North.
Late in the game, some App State students wrote "Can You Score?" in the snowy hill. Some Southern fans took exception and after a kerfuffle, a policeman took a tumble down the hill. GaSo didn't score and Russell's only game versus App State ended in his only shutout loss as Eagles' coach.
To this day, Georgia Southern fans petition the NCAA to reclassify this game as ice hockey .
1999 - Appalachian State 17 Georgia Southern 16 - Number One Goes Down I
The 1999 Eagles came into Boone averaging 59 points per game and ranked #1 in FCS under Paul Johnson. App State jumped out to a 17-0 lead before the Eagles came back late to get within one, but the upset bid was secured and down the goal post came. Georgia Southern ended up winning the National Championship though.
2003 - Appalachian State 28 Georgia Southern 21 - Goalpost, Buses and Pizzas
After 1999. the Eagles took the next four contests versus the Mountaineers, including a quarterfinal game in the 2001 I-AA playoffs. In 2003, Georgia Southern was trying to win their seventh-straight SoCon title while App State was trying to get their seniors one win against the Eagles.
After the Apps completed the upset, students tore down the goal post and exited the stadium. In the way were the Georgia Southern team buses. In circumstances that are still up for debate, the goalpost ended up going through the door window of one of the buses. To add insult to loss, a pizza order that was intended for the Eagles' locker room was intercepted by said student mob and stomped on.
2004 - Georgia Southern 54 Appalachian State 7 - The Beatdown
The most lop-sided game in the rivalry. Georgia Southern destroyed App State in what was surely revenge for their poor bus window.
2006 - Appalachian State 27 Georgia Southern 20 (2OT) - The Year Of BVG
In some Eagle fans' minds, 2006 didn't exist. The 3-8 campaign is directly the fault of one man.
Brian. Van. Gorder.
Despite taking away the option, changing every tradition Georgia Southern had, burning their crops and putting a plague upon every house in Statesboro, the 2006 game versus App State was a nail-biter. The Eagles would force two overtimes on a Mountaineers team that would end up 14-1 and I-AA/FCS National Champions for the second straight year. Still, the Eagles fell short as they did so often in 2006 and Van Gorder probably blamed the loss on the fans not being supportive enough.
BTW, this game also had the below play from a scrawny true freshman QB named Armanti Edwards.
2007 - Georgia Southern 38 Appalachian State 35 - The Eagles Crack The Rock
App State of 2007 had come off two National Championships and just over a month earlier upset Michigan in a game I bet you've heard about. Still, Georgia Southern...er scratch that....Jayson Foster showed up to Boone looking to make a name for himself. The eventual Walter Payton Award winner (the FCS Heisman) ran, pass, caught, drove the bus, sewed jerseys and led cheers to put the Eagles up 38-20 late in the game. Two quick scores made it a 38-35 game, but the last-minute drive by App State fell short and the Mountaineers' 30-game home win streak was over. It was the third-longest home streak in SoCon history behind Georgia Southern's 39 and 38 game streaks.
BTW, Armanti totally got that first down.
The halftime show by the visiting Georgia Southern band ended with the Eagles' fight song being played right in front of the App State student section, which went as well as you would imagine.
2008 - Appalachian State 37 Georgia Southern 36 - The Superman In Statesboro
The 2008 game is probably the best in the rivalry. A back and forth contest between the blue pants-wearing Eagles and heavy favorites App State. Then with two minutes left, 4th and Goal from the one, App State QB Armanti Edwards took flight.
2009 - Appalachian State 52 Georgia Southern 16 - Revenge Of The Beatdown
2009 for App State was what 2004 was for Georgia Southern. The Mountaineers absolutely dominated the Eagles with a yardage total of 712 to 171.
2010 - Georgia Southern 21 Appalachian State 14 (OT) - Number One Goes Down II
App State went to Statesboro in 2010 with an undefeated record, a #1 FCS ranking and 26-straight SoCon wins going back to the 2007 rivalry game. New Eagle coach Jeff Monken had struggled to get the option re-adjusted and his team was sitting at 4-4. After going down 14-0 early, Georgia Southern grinded and got the game to overtime where the Eagles would capitalize.
The win helped Georgia Southern barely make the FCS playoffs and kickstart their resurgence. The loss was a major crack in the App State kingdom that had dominated the SoCon for five years.
2011 - Appalachian State 24 Georgia Southern 17 - Number One Goes Down III
The 2011 Eagles went into Boone ranked #1 in FCS, undefeated and on a roll. App State was struggling and needed a win. Quite the role reversal. After App State went ahead 17-3 at half, the Eagles tied the game at 17-17 after a punt return to the house. Then with just under 10 minutes left, App QB Jamal Jackson found Brian Quick in the back of the end-zone for the game-winning score. Georgia Southern fans still insist it was incomplete.
Georgia Southern still ended up winning the SoCon Championship, ending App State's streak of six in a row.
2012 - Appalachian State 31 Georgia Southern 28 - Number One Goes Down IV
If GaSo fans were salty about the above touchdown, then they became Dead Sea salty after the 2012 game. The Eagles, again, were ranked #1 and needed the win for an outright SoCon title and App State was just trying to make the playoffs. Despite being a heavy underdog, App State stayed close apparently with help from the refs. Just listen to the salt in the local news report below.
After the game, several angry GaSo fans rocked the officials' van as it left Paulson Stadium and fans exchanged low-resolution screen caps to prove it was the ref's fault.
App didn't care, they secured a key road win that eventually helped them tie for the SoCon title with Georgia Southern and Wofford.
2014 - Georgia Southern 34 Appalachian State 14 - The Ineligibowl II
After App State won the first Ineligibowl 38-14 in 2013, both teams came into 2014 looking at the great unknown of FBS play. A Thursday night contest on ESPNU put both teams on a major stage and the Eagles delivered. The Eagles were bolstered by a raucous crowd that ended up drawing an unsportsmanlike for continually throwing cardboard. Georgia Southern ended a three-game losing streak to App State with a 20-point victory.
2015 - ???
This Thursday, October 22nd, fans of both teams will curse, yell, shout, cry, cheer and worry. And they wouldn't have it any other way.