Appalachian State (5-2, 3-1) and Georgia Southern (7-1, 4-0) met on Thursday night in a battle to decide supremacy in the Sun Belt conference. Georgia Southern used its triple option offense and suffocating defense to defeat the Mountaineers, 34-14. DraftNasty’s Troy Jefferson gives his impressions in this in-game report:
44 Anthony Flory (6’1 230) Appalachian State LB- Senior
Flory is a sideline-to-sideline linebacker who flows to the football and has the ability to form tackle. He finished with 10 tackles against the Eagles. The senior linebacker trusted his eyes on numerous occasions and was usually the first to the football despite Georgia Southern cloaking a lot of their runs with misdirection. During a first quarter run by Eagles sophomore quarterback Shai Werts (5’11, 190), Flory not only set the edge and forced Werts to cut back, but he shed his blocker and made the tackle. Flory should be able to also contribute as an outside linebacker at the next level despite playing as an inside linebacker in college because of his speed, strength and position IQ. Look for Flory, who was named to the preseason All-Sun Belt first team, to continue to make plays at all sides of the field.
Georgia Southern triple option offense
The Eagles haven’t lost a game in the conference midway through the season and that’s because opposing defenses haven’t been able to solve their option attack. Georgia Southern ranks fifth in the nation in rushing yards per game, averaging 275 yards. Werts is the straw that stirs the drink and even if he isn’t running, his ability forces defenses to key in on him. The sophomore quarterback finished with 129 rushing yards and a touchdown on 14 carries. What makes the Eagles attack even more potent is that every once in a while, Werts can make a defense pay through the air. He completed a 57-yard touchdown pass to sophomore receiver Darion Anderson (6’0, 185). It was Werts' only completion of the night, but on the season, he has completed 57 percent of his passes and hasn’t thrown an interception. Senior running back Wesley Fields (6’0, 205) adds another punch to the backfield alongside Werts. He rushed for 98 yards and two touchdowns on Thursday. One thing for the team to monitor centers around ball security. Georgia Southern recovered all three of its fumbles against the Mountaineers, but a team that runs as much as they do could be susceptible to fumbles. The Eagles only loss this season came to the second-ranked Clemson Tigers. If this offense keeps playing this well, they could make a run into the nation's Top 25.
Georgia Southern defense
The Eagles defense was fast and played as a unit against Appalachian State. It’s hard to point out one player, who stood out because so many different players made plays. 14 different players finished with at least two tackles. The Mountaineers scored 38 points and nearly upset Penn State earlier this season but against the Eagles, they couldn’t get anything going after their starting quarterback, sophomore Zac Thomas (6’1, 205), left with a concussion in the first quarter. Georgia Southern forced four turnovers and didn’t turn the ball over themselves and right now they have a +19 turnover ratio. With a sound defense and a ball-controlling offense, Georgia Southern will be hard to take down in the Sun Belt.