Nov. 2, 2013. A 28-yard interception return in a 21-point fourth quarter for Chattanooga helped the Mocs hold on for a 35-28 win over Appalachian State University football on Saturday afternoon at Kidd Brewer Stadium.
With its first win in Boone in 30 years, Chattanooga (7-2, 5-1 SoCon) moved into first place in the Southern Conference standings, a half-game ahead of Samford (6-3, 4-1 SoCon) and Wofford (5-3, 4-1 SoCon).
As has been the case for three of its seven losses this season, Appalachian State (2-7, 2-4 SoCon) held a 424-355 edge in total yards. However, UTC scored a pair of non-offensive touchdowns (on a fake field goal in the second quarter and Nakevion Leslie’s game-winning interception return with 2:52 to go) and benefitted from its own poor snap on a fluky fourth-down play that kick-started its 21-point final period.
Appalachian led 21-14 early in the fourth quarter when it forced Chattanooga to line up for a punt on fourth-and-three from its own 33 yard line. The fourth-down snap was high and UTC punter Nick Pollard had to jump high to haul it in. By the time he came down with the ball, there was no chance to get off a punt but with Appalachian State defenders trained on a block, he was able to squirt around the Mountaineers surrounding him in the backfield and down the right sideline for a first-down gain. Two plays later, quarterback Jacob Huesman found Terrell Robinson for a 31-yard touchdown that knotted the score at 21-21 with 12:49 to go in the ballgame.
One series later, Chattanooga took its first lead of the game on a 29-yard touchdown pass from Huesman to Xavier Borishade with 9:04 to go.
However, the Mocs’ advantage was short lived as Appalachian needed just five plays to tie it back up at 28-28 on a 20-yard pass from Kameron Bryant to Tony Washington with 7:07 to play. The game-tying 49-yard drive was set up by a 44-yard kickoff return by Bobo Beathard.
Appalachian’s defense forced Chattanooga to punt on its ensuing possession and the Mountaineers took over on their own three yard line with 4:51 to go. The Apps picked up one first down but on third-and-nine from the 21, Bryant was hit by UTC defensive end Keinota Davis as he let go of a throw intended for open receiver Andrew Peacock across the middle. Thanks to Davis’ pressure, what likely would have been a first-down pass turned into an easy interception for Leslie, who corralled the redirected ball and returned it 28 yards for the go-ahead scored.
The Mountaineers would not go away easily though, as they marched 77 yards all the way to the Mocs’ nine yard line on their final drive but on fourth-and-two from the nine, a would-be game-tying touchdown pass floated just past the outstretched arms of tight end Barrett Burns in the corner of the end zone and UTC took over with 44 seconds to go. From there, the Mocs ran out the clock to secure their first win over Appalachian State since 2004 and their first win in Boone since 1983.
Freshman Marcus Cox staked Appalachian to the 21-14 lead with touchdown runs of four, one and one yards. He finished with 158 yards on the ground (just one shy of a career high), good for his third-straight 100-yard rushing game and fourth in seven career starts. His three rushing touchdowns were a career high and the most by a Mountaineer since Steven Miller ran for three scores last season versus The Citadel.
Bryant completed 26-of-36 for 257 yards and a touchdown. His top target was Malachi Jones, who set career highs with nine receptions and 74 receiving yards.
Huesman led Chattanooga with 259 yards of total offense (132 rushing, 127 passing) and three touchdowns (two passing, one rushing).
Appalachian State returns to action next week with a tough test at Georgia. Kickoff is set for 12:30 p.m. at Sanford Stadium in Athens, Ga.
NOTES: The loss snapped Appalachian State’s eight-game overall and 14-game home winning streaks versus Chattanooga … Appalachian fell to 26-11 in 37 all-time meetings against UTC … the Mountaineers saw their 18-game winning streak in home games in the month of November also come to an end with their first November loss at Kidd Brewer Stadium since a 14-13 defeat to Maine in the opening round of the 2002 NCAA Division I-AA playoffs … Saturday’s attendance of 18,991 at 23,150-seat Kidd Brewer Stadium snapped a string of 50-consecutive regular-season crowds above The Rock’s official seating capacity, which dated back to the beginning of the 2005 campaign … with 44 receiving yards, Peacock moved into sixth in Appalachian State history with 1,909 career yards, passing CoCo Hillary (1,906 yds. – 2007-10) on the program’s all-time receiving yardage list … less than a week after moving from offensive line to assist on Appalachian’s injury-depleted defensive front, Tyson Fernandez made his first-career start at nose tackle and finished with four tackles.