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App State Rallies Past Idaho, 23-20

Photo by Allyson Lamb / Photo courtesy App State Athletics


By Tim Gardner

In an odd game of sorts, Appalachian State surrendered the game’s first 20 points and then scored its next 23 to rally past Idaho 23-20 last Saturday at the Kibbie Dome in Moscow, Idaho.

The Mountaineers improved to 4-2 over-all and remain unbeaten (3-0) in the Sun Belt Conference, while Idaho fell to 2-4 over-all and 1-3 in the conference with the loss.

The verdict was Appalachian State’s biggest comeback since it erased a 35-14 deficit in the fourth quarter of a 42-41 victory at Chattanooga in the 2010 opener.

The Mountaineers trailed 20-0 early in the third quarter against Idaho before completely taking over the game. They scored touchdowns on their next three possessions, then jumped ahead to stay on Michael Rubino’s 31-yard field goal with 7:24 left to play.

Their rally was propelled by a sack-hungry, turnover-minded defense and three touchdown passes from senior quarterback Taylor Lamb, who tied Armanti Edwards’ school record of 74 career touchdown passes.

Idaho regained possession at its 46-yard line with 2:23 remaining. But lineman Tee Sims had a hand in two sacks leading up to a fourth-and-24 pass that was completed by quarterback Matt Linehan, yet stopped a yard short of a first down. After the Mountaineers fell behind 20-0, their defense allowed only 17 yards on the final 17 plays, including the 23-yard pass on the Vandals’ last offensive snap.

Sims was credited with 2.5 sacks, and senior linebacker Eric Boggs made two fourth-quarter fumble recoveries. Lamb threw for 155 yards, and senior wide receiver Ike Lewis scored twice while catching six passes for 101 yards.

Idaho forced a turnover on the first play of the third quarter, but an Appalachian State defensive stand limited the Vandals to a short field goal that pushed them ahead by 20 points.

The Mountaineers went 3-for-3 on fourth-down conversions in scoring touchdowns on each of their next two drives.

Facing a fourth-and-2 situation from its 44 with nine minutes left in the third quarter, running back Jalin Moore gained 18 yards to set up Lewis’ 38-yard touchdown reception on a pass from Lamb. Rubino tacked on the point-after kick to make the score 20-7.

A kickoff tackle from Zy Letman at the 13, followed by big hits from Boggs and defensive back Tae Hayes, forced a quick Idaho punt. Lamb rushed for 11 yards on a fourth-and-6 keeper from the Idaho 36 to prolong the drive, and Terrence Upshaw gained 3 yards on a fourth-and-1 carry from the 16 before Lamb found tight end Collin Reed for a 6-yard touchdown with 13:23 remaining in the game. Rubino missed the conversion kick.

Reed’s score capped a 14-play; 53-yards drive that took 6:27 off the game clock.

Lineman Chris Willis’ first career sack and two under-pressure incompletions led to another three-and-out series for Idaho’s offense. Lamb tied Edwards’ school record of most touchdown passes thrown with a 45-yard pass to Lewis and Rubino tied the game on his PAT with 10:04 remaining.
The touchdown drive covered 62 yards and 5 plays.

Outside linebacker Rashaad Townes forced a fumble on the next play from scrimmage, and Boggs’ short return to the Idaho 28 set up Rubino’s game winning field goal.

Following a scoreless first period, Cade Coffey kicked a 28-yard field goal with 10:22 left before halftime to put Idaho up 3-0.

The Vandals built their lead to 10-0 with 5:24 remaining in the half when Linehan hit Alfonso Onunwor down the middle for a 20-yard touchdown pass and Coffey followed with the conversion kick.

Idaho increased its cushion to 17-0 when Joseph Wysocki caught a 5-yard touchdown pass from Linehan with only nine seconds remaining in the half. Coffey tacked on the point-after for a 17-0 tally.

Coffey then kicked a 23-yard field goal with 12:15 left in the third quarter to push Idaho’s lead to 20-0.

But he missed a 37-yard field goal late in the first quarter that would have possibly meant a tie at the end of regulation and at least one overtime period.

Appalachian State returns home to play Sun Belt foe Coastal Carolina next Saturday, October 21 at 3:30 p.m. in Kidd Brewer Stadium.