This Thursday, Appalachian State and Georgia Southern will meet in Boone for the 35th overall meeting, including every season since 1993. App State leads the series 19-14-1 and 16-13 in the modern era.
The winning swagger in FCS has carried over to FBS. The two teams have won at worst a share of four of the last five Sun Belt Championships. Georgia Southern went from 2-10 in 2017 to 11-2 in 2018 while App State has been ranked twice in the last two years.
Add on the serendipitous timing of Halloween, 2019 promises to be another special installment.
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.
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 a two-time defending I-AA National Champions. Appalachian State had just won the Southern Conference, which GS didn’t join into the early 90’s. Eagles’ coach Erk Russell had never lost a playoff game until that day, but on an icy field, Erk suffered his only shutout loss as head coach.
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. 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.
In 2019, this game showed up on YouTube in almost its entirety.
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.
Four in three years
2000 - Georgia Southern 34, Appalachian State 28
2001 - Georgia Southern 27, Appalachian State 18
2001 – Georgia Southern 38, Appalachian State 24 (FCS Quarterfinals)
2002 – Georgia Southern 36, Appalachian State 20
The longest win streak in the rivalry belongs to the Eagles, who won four in a row from 2000-2002, including the only playoff game between the two in 2001. The 2000 games featured two of the best teams in FCS going down to the wire in Statesboro.
The streak included a 2001 win in Boone in which the Eagles jumped out 14-0, fell behind 15-14, but then rallied behind timely interceptions for a 27-18 victory.
It wasn’t just the Mountaineers who found winning difficult in Statesboro. Georgia Southern reeled off a 38-game home win streak from 1997 to 2002, which included Southern Conference titles all six season, before it was ended by a foe that both sides once agreed to hate in the Furman Paladins.
To date, no four-year players in this rivalry have gone perfect against the other side.
2003 - Appalachian State 28 Georgia Southern 21 - Goalpost, Buses and Pizzas
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. However, with K.T. Stovall leading the defense, the Eagles were shut down in the second half as the Mountaineers pulled the upset.
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 for the Eagles. Georgia Southern destroyed App State in what was surely revenge for their 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 home win streaks.
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. Seven-hundred, twelve to one-hundred, seventy-one.
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 No. 1 FCS ranking and 26-straight SoCon wins going back to the 2007 rivalry game. New Eagles 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 slip into the FCS playoffs and kickstart their resurgence. Even though App State still won the Southern Conference title in 2010, 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 a controversial game-winning score. Georgia Southern fans still insist it was incomplete.
Georgia Southern still wound 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 Georgia Southern fans were salty about the 2011 game, then they became Dead Sea salty after the 2012 game.
The Eagles, again, were ranked No. 1 and needed the win for an outright SoCon title while 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 Southern fans rocked the officials’ van as it left Paulson Stadium. App State 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 versions of the circular GS logo, handed out before the game, onto the field.
Georgia Southern ended a three-game losing streak to App State with a 20-point victory en route to a 8-0 conference record and a Sun Belt Championship.
2015 – Appalachian State 31, Georgia Southern 13 – Lasers, fire and stolen ambulances
The nuttiness of Thursday night football in Statesboro was matched the following year on a Thursday night in Boone. Georgia Southern went into Boone having won its first 11 Sun Belt Conference game, upping the ante for the Mountaineers.
The Eagles struck first, but App State went out to dominate with 31 straight points. There was an issue early in the game with a laser pointer from the stands, but the Mountaineers got the big win.
But the big story came off the field.
During the game, first responders were called to nearby Trivette Hall, which has caught fire due to what was cited as “improperly cited light fixtures” in an ID card office.
At the same time, someone legit stole an ambulance. Just hopped in and drove it away.
Legend has it that police tried to find the stolen ambulance immediately after, but pulled over the wrong one. The actual stolen ambulance was later located at a nearby apartment complex, abandoned by some student who wanted to go home and likely was inebriated.
2016 – Appalachian State 34, Georgia Southern 10 – Statesboro’s long summer
The second coming of Brian Van Gorder, Tyson Summers, was the head coach of Georgia Southern in 2016 and the first half of 2017, going 5-13 with a team that was one of the best in the Group of Five. This was apparent in 2016, when even spotted a 10-point lead at home, the Mountaineers reeled off 34 unanswered for their biggest win ever in Statesboro.
2018 – Georgia Southern 34, Appalachian State 14 – #UnrankAppState
New Georgia Southern head coach Chad Lunsford put the pride back in Eagle football after being named interim, then permanent, coach in late 2017. He smashes steel folding chairs, gives it an elbow drop and even poached an App State defensive coordinator.
In 2018, App State was rolling. At 5-1 with a loss to Penn State, the Mountaineers had just attained the program’s first FBS ranking the previous Sunday, coming in at No. 25.
Remember what I wrote about no four-year players going undefeated? Well, that happened here. App State QB Zac Thomas was knocked out of the game early on a questionable hit, then the Eagle defense caused five turnovers en route to their first win over a ranked FBS team in their history, not to mention beating their rival.
App State would go on to win the Sun Belt Championship later that season, but having the program’s first-ever FBS ranking taken away stings for Mountaineer fans.
2019 – Halloween at The Rock
A Halloween Thursday night game in Boone is going to be electric. Older App State fans remember the 2008 Halloween night game versus Wofford, a battle of Top 5 FCS programs at the time which shockingly resulted in a 70-24 beatdown by the Mountaineers.
Will App continue to climb the rankings and avenge last season’ humiliation in Statesboro? Or will Georgia Southern claim their first Boone dub in 12 years?