App State loses quarterback, then loses to Georgia Southern

The 25th-ranked Mountaineers were beaten 34-14 in a game that saw quarterback Zac Thomas sidelined with an injury

Georgia Southern safety Darrell Baker Jr. intercepts a pass intended for Appalachian State wide receiver Dominique Heath during Thursday's game in Statesboro, Ga. (AP Photo/John Amis)

STATESBORO, Ga. — Shai Werts rushed for 129 yards, including a 47-yard touchdown run, and Georgia Southern upset No. 25 Appalachian State 34-14 on Thursday night to spoil the Mountaineers’ first week in the Top 25.

Werts threw a 57-yard scoring pass to Darion Anderson early in the second quarter. It was Werts’ only completion in three attempts for Georgia Southern (7-1, 4-0 Sun Belt). Wesley Fields had scoring runs of 10 and 18 yards in the Eagles’ fifth straight win.

Georgia Southern fans stormed the field following the school’s first home game against a Top 25 team.

App State quarterback Zac Thomas was knocked out of the game on the opening series for the Mountaineers (5-2, 3-1). The back of Thomas’ helmet hit the ground as he was tackled following a 5-yard run. He was taken to the medical tent on the sideline and then escorted to the locker room. He didn’t return.

Backup quarterbacks Peyton Derrick and Jacob Huesman combined to throw four interceptions, and the Mountaineers also lost a fumble on a punt return.

Derrick completed only 3 of 12 passes for 73 yards with two interceptions. Huesman took over in the fourth quarter and was intercepted twice by Kindle Vindor before throwing a 4-yard scoring pass to Malik Williams with only 10 seconds remaining.

Derrick completed a 50-yard pass to Corey Sutton to the Georgia Southern 3 early in the second quarter. Marc Williams’ 1 -yard run tied the game at 7-all.

The Eagles quickly scored following two first-half turnovers by the Mountaineers. Darrell Baker Jr.’s interception set up Werts’ long scoring pass to Anderson.

Dexter Carter Jr. recovered Clifton Duck’s fumbled punt return. On the next play, Fields’ 10-yard scoring run gave the Eagles a 14-7 lead.

App State linebacker Jordan Fehr was ejected late in the first quarter after he was called for targeting on a late hit on Werts.

The game matched longtime friends as opposing coaches. Georgia Southern coach Chad Lunsford was App State’s tight ends coach from 2001-02 and lived in App State coach Scott Satterfield’s basement apartment for a year when Satterfield also was a Mountaineers assistant.


Appalachian State: The Mountaineers couldn’t overcome the loss of their quarterback and the four turnovers. Also costly were 11 penalties for 91 yards. App State never gained consistent offensive momentum without Thomas. The Mountaineers were held to 288 yards.

Georgia Southern: The Eagles were poised on their home field as Werts avoided turnovers in the triple-option offense despite playing in the rain. The Eagles kept pace with Troy in the Sun Belt’s East Division.