By Paul T. Choate
Oct. 4, 2012. If you love Appalachian State University, as so many here in the High Country do, then this weekend is one of the best weekends of the year to sport your black and gold attire. ASU is holding their Homecoming events on Friday and Saturday, Oct. 5-6, and the weekend is slam-packed with Mountaineer events ranging from a run to the top of Howard’s Knob to a parade and, of course, the Homecoming ASU football game against Elon University.
Homecoming kicks off Friday with the 50th annual Boyles CEO Lecture Series. The event takes place at 10 a.m. in Holmes Convocation Center. This year, the series will feature a panel of previous Boyles lecturers, including William R. Holland, former CEO of United Dominion; Robert Ingram, former CEO of GlaxoSmithKline; James Morgan, CEO of Krispy Kreme; and Bob Tillman, former CEO of Lowe’s.
Later in the day Friday, the sixth annual Running of the Knob (a two-mile run to the top of Howards Knob) starts at 5:30 p.m. at the Watauga County Library.
At 6 p.m. on Friday, the Spirit Under the Stars Lip Sync Finals and Pep Rally takes place on Duck Pond Field.
The Homecoming Alumni Dance starts at 8 p.m. at Legends and features the Craig Woolard Band, who will play beach music, rock and other music genres. Tickets are $15 in advance or $20 at the door.
Saturday’s events begin with the Appalachian Friends Breakfast at the McKinney Alumni Center on Blowing Rock Road at 9 a.m. The annual ASU Homecoming Parade through downtown Boone starts at 10:30 a.m. The parade begins in the Raley parking lot and follows a route west on Rivers Street, north on Water Street, then east on King Street through Boone. This year’s grand marshals are benefactors George (alumnus, class of 1958) and Ann Beasley. Beasley and his wife have supported scholarships, athletics and the Department of Communication for several years. The Beasley Media Complex, set to open in 2013, bears his name.
Also, the Mountaineer Tailgate Party at Duck Pond Field begins at 11 a.m. Speaking of tailgating, that is the perfect transition into one of my favorite things I write each week: the ASU football pregame report.
Editor’s note: If you don’t like football, you can just stop here in the article. The following will comprise of me nerding out with fun and interesting Mountaineer football stats and facts — many of which are provided to me courtesy of Mike Flynn, ASU assistant athletics director for sports information. Thanks Mike, you make my job a lot easier every week.
Saturday is game day and the No. 15 ranked Appalachain State Mountaineers (3-2, 1-1 conference) have just about the perfect opponent for the Homecoming game. Coming off back-to-back wins against Chattanooga and Coastal Carolina, the Mountaineers will square off against a team that has not beaten them since Oct. 3, 1964. Yes, 1964, as in 48 years ago (although it is worthy of noting that ASU and Elon did not face each other for almost 32 years between 1971 and 2003).
“When Elon last beat Appalachian State on Oct. 3, 1964, Appalachian was known as Appalachian State Teachers College and the Elon University Phoenix was the Elon College Fighting Christians and both teams were members of the Carolinas Conference. Lyndon B. Johnson was the president of the United States,” said Flynn in a news release.
The Mountaineers are currently riding a 16-game winning-streak over Elon (2-3, 0-2 conference) but have had some close matchups in the past two years, winning by only four points on Nov. 19, 2011 and by only three points on Oct. 9, 2010. Last year, Elon looked like they might snap ASU’s streak of dominance when they jumped out to a 21-0 lead. However, the Mountaineers fought back to claim a 28-24 victory, matching their largest comeback win since joining the NCAA Division I ranks back in 1972.
ASU enjoys a 37-11-2 record in Homecoming games at Conrad/Kidd Brewer Stadium and have won nine straight homecoming games. In the nine games since Elon joined the Southern Conference (SoCon) in 2003 they have been outscored by the Mountaineers 341-164, or a roughly 2:1 margin.
A 31-game home winning streak against in-state opponents is also on the line for the Mountaineers, with their last loss in that category coming by the hands of Western Carolina by a large margin at Conrad Stadium on Oct. 6, 1984.
Flynn detailed one battle this Saturday as “one of the most anticipated individual matchups of the year in NCAA Division I FCS between Appalachian State cornerback Demetrius McCray and Elon wide receiver Aaron Mellette. In last year’s showdown between two of the nation’s top FCS 2013 NFL Draft prospects, Mellette caught 14 passes for 236 yards and a touchdown but, after a monster first half, was limited to six catches for 87 yards and no scores in the second half. McCray finished with a career-high 11 tackles, two pass breakups and a key interception in Appalachian’s 28-24 come-from-behind win.”
In addition to McCray in the tale of the tape, quarterback Jamal Jackson, running back Steven Miller and freshman wide receiver Sean Price are having stellar years. Jackson surpassed 200 passing yards and 250 total offensive yards last Saturday against CCU for the 11th time in 12 career starts. His NCAA quarterback rating is currently 143.4 and would be good for a 96.1 rating by NFL standards (which would rank 11th in the NFL, just behind Peyton Manning’s 96.9, although Manning and other NFL QBs are facing stiffer opposition).
Miller has already rushed for 601 yards on 101 attempts this year with seven touchdowns. Last Saturday, Miller’s 202 rushing yards were good for the most by a Mountaineer since DeAndre Presley’s 264 against Western Illinois on Dec. 4, 2010.
As for Price, he went over the 100-yard receiving mark last Saturday against CCU with eight receptions for 128 yards and two touchdowns. Price matched ASU’s all-time record with his third-straight 100-yard receiving game as well as setting a record as far as freshman statistics go.
As for Elon, they are coming off back-to-back losses to two SoCon powerhouses. No. 10 Georgia Southern narrowly defeated them 26-23 on Sept. 22 and No. 5 Wofford blew them out last Saturday 49-24. Facing ASU will be their final test against a currently nationally ranked opponent, as they face unranked Western Carolina on Oct. 20 for their Homecoming matchup.
The game looks to be an aerial assault, as both teams rank highly nationally in passing yards per game. ASU comes into the matchup ranked 24th in passing yards with 255.4 yards per game, while Elon is not far behind at 30th with 247.8 passing yards per game.
The Mountaineers’ advantage will come in the form of rushing yards, lead by Miller. ASU ranks 21st nationally and fourth in the SoCon in rushing yards per game, while Elon comes in at 101st in that category and ninth out of 12 in the SoCon.
ASU also leads the Phoenix in points allowed per game, at 29 points allowed to Elon’s 33.
Although unlikely, according to history, if Elon pulls off a win against ASU it will mark the first time since 2007 and only the second time in the last 15 seasons that the Mountaineers started 1-2 in SoCon play as well as their first Homecoming loss since 2002. It would also likely be a big hit to the Mountaineers’ national ranking.
Kickoff is set for 3:30 p.m. Regular and prime tickets are already sold out, but grass seating and visitor seating is still available on goasu.com for $22 to $32. The game will not be televised, but GoASU TV will air the game online with rates starting at $10.95 for a one month subscription. You can also listen to the game live for free on the radio at WATA-AM 1450.
For additional information on all ASU sports, visit goasu.com.
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