STATESBORO, Ga. --- A loose ball rolled slowly and linebacker Josh Rowe crawled to corral the biggest moment of Georgia Southern's 2010 football season.
"I looked and Dion (DuBose) was on his hands and knees and Laron (Scott) was on his hands and knees and Darius (Eubanks), too. That's what kind of effort we gave (Saturday)," said Georgia Southern defensive lineman Roderick Tinsley, who was referring to an Appalachian State fumble that Eubanks, a former Thomson standout forced and Rowe recovered, ending the game.
A delirious homecoming crowd of 20,073 fans appreciated the efforts, spilling onto the Paulson Stadium turf in celebration of the Eagles' 21-14 overtime victory over top-ranked Appalachian State on Saturday.
Georgia Southern (5-4, 3-3 Southern Conference) snapped the Mountaineers' 26-game conference winning streak, which was approaching the league record of 30 set by West Virginia from 1952-59.
"We know we're a good team, sometimes something like this helps," said Eagles freshman fullback Robert Brown, who scored the game-winning touchdown on a 4-yard run to begin the first overtime session.
It was a gritty three hours for Georgia Southern, which had lost three of its past four entering the game and seemingly had too many injuries and too little experience to give the undefeated Mountaineers a run.
Last season, Appalachian State rolled up 712 yards and beat Georgia Southern 52-16 in Boone, N.C.
"It's not what they didn't do, it's what we did this time," said Scott, whose second-quarter interception squashed a scoring drive.
By winning, the Eagles put themselves back in the conversation for the expanded 20-team Football Championship Subdivision playoffs.
Georgia Southern has one loss to a FBS team (Navy) and its overall four losses are by a combined 23 points.
"We'd be humbled for the opportunity," said Eagles coach Jeff Monken, whose team finishes the regular season on the road with Western Carolina and Furman. "I don't think (playoffs) are a dead possibility."
Georgia Southern stayed alive by playing stellar defense against a squad that was third in the nation in scoring, averaging 39.1 points a game.
How much better is Georgia Southern this season in its return to triple-option football?
"They're back," Appalachian State coach Jerry Moore said.
Reach Donald Heath at email@example.com.