Mountaineers Score 34-Straight Points, Thump UTC

Published Saturday, September 22, 2012 at 11:40 pm

Sept. 22, 2012. CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. — No. 17/18 Appalachian State University rebounded from an early 10-0 hole to score the game’s next 34 points, 24 of which came in the decisive fourth quarter of the Mountaineers’ impressive 34-17 win over Chattanooga on Saturday evening at Finley Stadium.

Brandon Grier’s 70-yard interception return capped Appalachian State’s 24-point fourth quarter in the Mountaineers’ 34-17 win over Chattanooga. Photo by David Scearce and courtesy of Appalachian Sports Information

Thanks to a pair of turnovers that could likely be attributed to Appalachian State (2-2, 1-1 SoCon) playing without either of its starting offensive tackles, the Mountaineers found themselves behind 10-0 less than 13 minutes into the game. However, Appalachian dominated the rest of the way, scoring 10 second-quarter points to knot the score at halftime and putting 24 points on the board in a 10:31 span of the final period to pull away from the pesky Mocs.

Things started inauspiciously for the Mountaineers, who turned the ball over on each of their first two possessions. On the Apps’ first possession, UTC’s Davis Tull beat Appalachian right tackle Will Corbin (Dunn, N.C./Triton) to the edge and leveled quarterback Jamal Jackson (Atlanta, Ga./North Atlanta), who fumbled on the big hit. The Mocs recovered on Appalachian’s eight yard line and two plays later, took a 7-0 lead on Jacob Huesman’s seven-yard touchdown pass to Marion Anthony.

On the Mountaineers’ next drive, the pocket collapsed again around Jackson, who was hit as he threw. The pass was picked off by UTC’s Chas Moore, who returned it 33 yards to the Appalachian 33. However, the turning point in the game may have come on the ensuing series when the Mountaineer defense only allowed the Mocs to turn the miscue into a field goal that stretched the UTC lead to 10-0 with 2:01 to play in the opening period.

The second quarter and, frankly, the rest of the game, was all Appalachian State. The Mountaineers outgained the Mocs, 137-30, in the second period and scored on a 38-yard field goal by Drew Stewart (Gastonia, N.C./North Gaston) and a 35-yard touchdown pass from Jackson to Steven Miller (Piscataway, N.J./Piscataway) with 32 seconds to go before the half to send the teams to the locker rooms knotted at 10-10.

After a scoreless third quarter, Appalachian squelched any hopes of a Chattanooga upset by turning in one of its finest periods in recent memory in the fourth quarter. Spurred by a 30-yard pass from Jackson to Malachi Jones (Roswell, Ga./Central Gwinnett) on the next-to-last play of the third quarter, the Mountaineers took their first lead of the game just 59 seconds into the final period on a 38-yard field goal by Stewart that made it 13-10.

Chattanooga (1-3, 0-1 SoCon) drove into Appalachian territory on the ensuing possession but the tide of the game turned for good when Jamill Lott (Kannapolis, N.C./A.L. Brown) picked off a Huesman pass at the Apps’ 26 yard line. Four plays later, Jackson found Sean Price (Reston, Va./South Lakes) for a 36-yard touchdown pass that stretched the Appalachian lead to 20-10.

The Mountaineer defense forced the second of three-straight UTC turnovers two plays later when Demetrius McCray (Covington, Ga./Eastside) drilled UTC wideout Ron Moore, whose fumble was recovered by Brandon Grier (Charlotte, N.C./West Charlotte) on the Mocs’ 14 yard line. It only took Jackson and Price one play to turn that miscue into another Mountaineer touchdown, a 14-yard connection that made it 27-10.

Nine plays later, Grier picked off Huesman for the second time in three series and returned it 70 yards to paydirt. Grier’s first-career touchdown ended any doubt in the final outcome, as it gave Appalachian State a commanding 34-10 lead with 3:30 to go in the ballgame.

One week after surrendering 618 yards in a 52-28 loss to The Citadel, Appalachian’s defense returned to form on Saturday night, limiting Chattanooga to 270 yards, 65 of which came on the Mocs’ final touchdown drive well after the final outcome was decided. The Mountaineers forced three turnovers — all of which came in the decisive fourth quarter — and held the Mocs to just 87 rushing yards (86 yards below its season average coming in) on 32 attempts (2.7 yards per rush). Huesman, who came into the game averaging 230 yards of total offense per game, to just 156 total yards.

 Grier led the way with a team-high-tying seven tackles, a sack, an interception, a fumble recovery and a quarterback hurry. Lott and Joel Ross (Damascus, Md./Damascus) also chipped in with seven tackles apiece.

 Offensively, Appalachian racked up 401 yards, marking its fourth-straight game with at least 400 total yards. Jackson led the way with 268 yards and three touchdowns on 19-of-30 passing and 27 yards on 11 rushes. Price was his favorite target, catching 10 balls for 130 yards and two scores and going over 100 receiving yards for the second time in as many games this season. Miller went over 90 yards on the ground for the third-straight game, finishing with 94 yards on 22 carries to go along with the 35-yard touchdown reception.

Appalachian returns to action next Saturday with its final non-conference game of the regular season versus Coastal Carolina. Kickoff is set for 3:30 p.m. at Kidd Brewer Stadium.

Game notes

Appalachian moved to 23-1 in its last 24 games immediately following a same-season loss, dating back to the third week of the 2003 season … the Mountaineers extended their winning streak over Chattanooga to eight in a row … Appalachian has won seven-straight at Finley Stadium, including the 2005, 2006 and 2007 NCAA Division I Football national championship games … App State avoided dropping to 0-2 in conference play for the first time since 1972, its first season in the Southern Conference … only a junior, Jackson became the 13th player in Appalachian history with 3,000 passing yards, finishing the evening ranked 12th in school history with 3,137 career yards … Appalachian’s regular starting tackles, Kendall Lamm (Charlotte, N.C./Butler) and Regan Dufort (Fredericksburg, Va./Stafford) missed Saturday’s game due to a head injury and a violation of NCAA rules, respectively … Lamm is expected back in the lineup next week while Dufort’s status going forward is unknown, pending an appeal.

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