Appalachian State University football came up one bounce of the football from upsetting 100,000-plus fans again.
Tennessee’s Jalen Hurd recovered a Josh Dobbs’ fumble in the end zone for the only score in overtime as the Volunteers held off a determined App State team on Thursday night in Neyland Stadium, 20-13.
App State (0-1) led for 40 minutes, never trailed in reglulation, and held Tennessee to 319 yards of offense, less than 300 in regulation. The Mountaineers outhit and outplayed Tennessee for the first three quarters, leading 13-3 at half and holding the Vols out of the end zone until 10:30 left in the game.
The Apps grabbed control in the opening minutes, capitalizing on a botched punt and fumble recovery by senior Alex Gray in Tennessee territory. The Mountaineers rolled 36 yards in five plays to take a 7-0 lead on a 5-yard touchdown run by Taylor Lamb.
App added to its lead at the midpoint of the second quarter as Lamb found Marcus Cox for a 33-yard touchdown. Cox, with Tennessee’s Corey Vereen draped on him, managed to fight off Vereen for the catch and race down the left sideline for App’s second score. Freshman Michael Rubino missed the PAT wide right, which would prove costly.
Tennessee cot the lead to 13-6 late in the third on a 39-yard field goal from Aaron Medley and tied the game minutes later, as Dobbs found Josh Malone for 67 yards and UT’s lone touchdown in regulation.
App State might have had a chance to win it in regulation, but time ran out on a Taylor Lamb scramble to set up overtime.
App forced a pair of overtime third downs on Tennessee’s possession to start OT. Dobbs scramble on third-and-goal was turned back at the goalline on a punishing hit by Kennan Gilchrist, jarring the ball loose. Tennessee running back Jalen Hurd pounced on the ball in the end zone to give the Vols a 20-13 lead. App State was backed up on its only possession in OT and Lamb couldn’t connect with Shaedon Meadors in the end zone to extend the game.
App finished with 184 rushing yards, led by Cox’ school record 23rd game with 100 yards rushing. He had 24 carries for 115 yards. Lamb finished 15-of-23 for 108 yards and a touchdown.
Hurd led Tennessee with 110 yards on 28 carries and recovery for a TD. Dobbs finished 16-of-29 for 192 yards and a TD.
Linebacker Eric Boggs had a game-high 12 tackles and Gilchrist added nine stops for an Apps’ defense than stifled Tennessee’s high-octane attack for much of the night. Defensive end Caleb Fuller had two tackles for loss and a sack of Dobbs.
App hosts Old Dominion in its home opener next Saturday (Sept. 10) at Kidd Brewer Stadium. Kickoff is at 3:30 p.m.
Scott Satterfield, Appalachian State Head Coach
(On thoughts after the loss)
“First of all, I am really proud of our guys. They came out here and fought. We knew they would. Our program is all about effort and pride and fighting hard all the way to the end. We have always been that way, so I am really proud of that. We have been very fortunate and blessed in the history of our school, especially in the last 25 years, to win a lot of close games at the end, so we have a lot of confidence in how we finish. We just didn’t get it finished tonight. I am not into moral victories. We are in it to win it. When you get this close like we did down here and not finish it off, you will learn from it. We went toe-to-toe with one of the better teams in the country right here. We are proud of that fact, but we want to win football games. We will learn from this loss. It hurts, but we will come back strong next week.”
(On not using a timeout with 30 seconds left in regulation)
“We had a timeout, but we had the play call before. They made a good call on defense. We ended up getting tackled for a loss. I thought we had plenty of time to line up and run a quick play to save the timeout for a field goal. That was what we were trying to do. It took forever to get everyone lined up to snap the ball. We ended up running out of time. Obviously, in hindsight, you would call a timeout. We were trying to save that to kick a field goal and win the game.”
(On Stout’s defensive presence)
“He has been doing that this whole summer. As the nose position playing the A-gap, it makes it hard to run on our defense with him in there. He had a tremendous camp. He made some plays tonight. When he has two guys blocking him, he is freeing up the rest of our guys.”
(On not recovering the fumble in OT)
“That’s football. There were a couple of balls on the ground that we thought we had a great opportunity to get. I thought our defense played outstanding. They were scrappy and got a couple of turnovers. There were a couple of times where we thought we had a chance to get the ball. Our guys didn’t quit, their quarterback fumbled and they ended up falling on it. That is just the way the ball bounces. You have to play hard and good things will happen.
(On rushing for more yards than Tennessee)
“I thought if we outrushed them that we would win the game. Usually that happens. We pride ourselves on running the football like they do. One of our goals was to outrush them. We are glad to get that goal. Usually when that happens, when you outrush your opponent, you usually win the game.
That is credit to our defense and offensive line. Marcus Cox had another big night tonight. He has been doing that his whole career.”
(On getting the passing game where they want it)
“Our game plan was to come in here and run the football. We didn’t want to get ourselves in passing situations. We didn’t get sacked because we didn’t throw many times. Derek Barnett is one of the best defensive ends in the country. We didn’t want to put ourselves in a situation where we would get sacked and have a negative play. Our goal was to run the football and control it. As long as we play great defense, we would be able to stay in the game. That is what happened. We knew if we could get to the fourth quarter, we could win the game at the end.”
(On their offensive formation)
“We were running it all last year. We didn’t know it was going to work that well, but we kept doing it all the way to the end. We had great success at it. That is hard for a defensive unit to stop. It’s a hard formation to stop. He had some speed with guys that we brought around the edge. That is the formation we will continue to use. We have been using it since last year.”
(On keeping Michael Rubino on track)
“You don’t know how guys will react. This is the first game, and this is a tough environment to come into for a freshman kicker. I told him to kick the ball and not try to guide it. If he will just swing and kick it, he has a great leg. Those are the things we will work on. I want him to kick it hard because he will make it if he does.”
Taylor Lamb, Appalachian State Quarterback
(On App. State’s final play of regulation)
“I looked before we snapped it, and I saw it counting down at 15. I think I snapped it at probably about 13. I had to scramble out, and I didn’t want to put it into jeopardy downfield because they had good coverage downfield. I saw an opening, and I tried to get to the sidelines as fast I could, but it just wasn’t enough.”
(On the result from playing Tennessee after growing up around Tennessee football)
“It sucks, to be honest with you. You could point out opportunities where we could have won the football game, and that’s a great team over there. They played hard, and they’re big and physical on defense. This one’s going to sting for a while, but we have to turn our heads to ODU.”
(On the final play of overtime)
“We had a pop play to the tight end, and they were deep back in coverage. They had it covered well. But I just took a shot down there because he was our third guy and they had the first two guys covered. I just tried to get out of the pocket and give him a ball he could catch. You have to let it go because the pressure’s coming.”
(On the play of the offensive line)
“[Victor Johnson] is going to be good. I think he played well tonight, and I think our whole offensive line played well. Our running backs ran the ball really well and I think our wide outs played well down the stretch. But our offensive line is our anchor, that’s where it starts for us.”
(On Tennessee’s fumbled punt return and how it shifted momentum)
“We were moving the ball well in the first half. When they dropped the punt, we just went right into our plays and went down there and scored. I think we moved the ball well, we just didn’t execute on key plays down the stretch.”
(On the fourth quarter drive following App State’s long punt return)
“I missed a read in the run game there and that will come back to haunt you, but they stoned us there, three and out, and you can’t look at that.”
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