STATESBORO, Ga. (AP) — The first Top 25 ranking in Appalachian State's history is something coach Scott Satterfield has relished this week.
He's also tried to keep that achievement in perspective as he prepares to face an old friend in an important game.
That ranking will be on the line , as well as the path to a Sun Belt championship, when No. 25 Appalachian State visits Georgia Southern on Thursday night in a matchup of longtime rivals.
"It doesn't win you any football games and it's not going to beat Georgia Southern," Satterfield said of his team's debut in the Top 25.
The Mountaineers (5-1, 3-0 Sun Belt) and Eagles (6-1, 3-0) were former Southern Conference rivals who combined to win nine FCS (Division I-AA) national championships before making the move to FBS.
There are close ties on the coaching staffs. Georgia Southern coach Chad Lunsford was App State's tight ends coach from 2001-02 and lived in Satterfield's basement for a year when Satterfield also was a Mountaineers assistant on coach Jerry Moore's staff.
Lunsford said he and Satterfield are still friends, even though busy schedules mean "you don't spend a lot of time communicating."
"He was a huge influence on me as a young coach and did a lot for my family when I was up there also, so I've got a lot of respect for him," Lunsford said. "I do consider him a friend to this day."
Lunsford hired his defensive coordinator, Scot Sloan, from App State, where Sloan worked from 2010-17.
"He spent a long time here so obviously he's very familiar with our personnel," Satterfield said, adding Georgia Southern operates "a very similar defense to what we're running, if not the same."
Here are some other things to know about the App State-Georgia Southern game:
App State leads the Sun Belt with its average of 44.8 points per game. It also has the league's best scoring defense, allowing only 15.7 points.
"This will be a big-time challenge," Lunsford said. "On paper I don't know if we've got a chance. I hope our players will step up and play over their heads and give us a shot."
Darrynton Evans, who has run for an average of 119.7 yards in conference games, has helped the Mountaineers overcome the loss of Jalin Moore to a season-ending ankle injury. Evans ran for 115 yards at Arkansas State and 183 yards against Louisiana.
App State's 27-17 win over Louisiana last week included a rarity — points allowed in the second half. Louisiana scored with 1:03 remaining for the first second-half points allowed by the Mountaineers' defense since a 45-38 overtime loss to No. 17 Penn State to open the season. The Mountaineers outscored Charlotte, Gardner-Webb, South Alabama and Arkansas State by a combined 65-0 in the second half.
TRIPLE OPTION ATTACK
Sophomore quarterback Shai Werts provides dual-threat skills as he directs Georgia Southern's option offense. Werts' 542 yards rushing and nine touchdowns lead the team. He has passed for 491 yards with four scores and no interceptions. For his career, Werts has 1,264 yards rushing with 12 touchdowns and 1,420 yards passing and 11 scores.
SUN RISES AGAIN
App State is only the second Sun Belt team to make the Top 25. Troy made a one-week appearance in the 2016, also at No. 25.
The Mountaineers lead the series 19-13-1, including a 16-11 advantage since Georgia Southern revived its program in 1982. The schools were Southern Conference rivals from 1993-2013. This will be the fifth straight game in the series played on a Thursday night.
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