By Tim Gardner
Oct. 14, 2013. Saturday’s Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) and Southern Conference clash between Appalachian State and Samford is the tale of teams headed in opposite directions.
The 23rd nationally-ranked Bulldogs (5-2 over-all; 3-0 conference) spoiled Appalachian State’s homecoming with a 34-10 win before a crowd of 24,491 at Kidd Brewer Stadium. Samford has now established itself, as perhaps, the league’s top team, while the Mountaineers (1-5 over-all; 1-2 conference) are reeling after three consecutive losses.
It marked the Bulldogs first victory over the Mountaineers since 1970 and their initial in Southern Conference play. Samford also has defeated Western Carolina (62-23) and Georgia Southern (44-34) in league action. It was the first time Appalachian State has dropped three straight games in the same season since the 1993 team started 0-4 en route to a 4-7 record.
With Appalachian State still facing an all-but-assured loss at upper-level FBS (Football Bowl Subdivision) power Georgia on November 9, the Mountaineers will be faced with the major challenge of likely having to win all its other remaining games (all Southern Conference) against Furman (Oct. 19), Georgia Southern (Oct. 26), Chattanooga (Nov. 2), Wofford (Nov. 16) and Western Carolina (Nov. 23) to avoid their first losing season since ‘93.
Appalachian State cannot compete for the Southern Conference title and post-season play this season (2013) due to its move to the FBS and Sun Belt Conference in 2014, so it would have no chance to improve on its regular season record.
Andy Summerlin passed for 265 yards and one touchdown to lead Samford, which rolled up 461 yards of offense.
The Bulldogs scored first when Michael Pierce, Jr. rushed in from 1 yard out with12:58 left in the first period to cap a 6-play; 80-yard drive on the game’s opening possession. Appalachian State narrowed the gap to 7-3 on a 38-yard field goal by Drew Stewart with seven seconds remaining in the opening quarter.
Samford then scored 20 unanswered points to jump out to a 27-3 lead early in the fourth quarter. The Bulldogs, who led 21-3 at the half, spread the scoring around as D’Morrise Bledsoe scored from 26 yards out at the 8:07 mark of the second period, Summerlin threw a 7-yard touchdown strike to Kelvin Clay almost six minutes later and Jeremiah Gates rushed in from the 1-yard line with only 22 seconds left in the game.
Warren Handraham added field goals of 30 and 23 yards and four PAT’s for Samford.
Appalachian State’s Kameron Bryant completed 20-of-33 passes for 156 yards, including a15-yard touchdown to Andrew Peacock with 4:11 remaining. Stewart tacked on the PAT.
After traveling to Furman next Saturday (1:30 p.m. kickoff), the Mountaineers will try to win their first home game versus arch-rival Georgia Southern on Black Saturday Day, October 26. Kickoff will be at 3:30 p.m. in Kidd Brewer Stadium and the game will be televised on ESPN 3.
App State Release:
Appalachian State University football managed just 223 yards of offense — its lowest output in seven years — in a 34-10 loss to No. 23 Samford on Saturday afternoon at Kidd Brewer Stadium.
Appalachian State’s (1-5, 1-2 SoCon) 223 yards were its fewest since it managed only 133 in a 23-10 defeat at NC State to open the 2006 season. The Mountaineers moved the ball well in spurts and picked up 17 first downs, including at least one on seven of their 12 possessions (not counting a one-play series to end the ballgame). However, all but two of those possessions ultimately ended in punts and Appalachian scored its fewest points in a home game since a 24-10 loss to Marshall on Oct. 26, 1996.
Meanwhile, Samford (5-2, 3-0 SoCon) racked up 461 yards in its first victory over Appalachian since 1970. Two-hundred-and-fifty-nine of the Bulldogs’ 461 yards came in the first half, as it jumped out to a 21-3 halftime lead.
Samford grabbed a 7-0 advantage just 2:02 into the game but the Mountaineers’ defense followed with four-straight stops, including three three-and-outs. Thanks to the stellar defensive stretch and a 38-yard field goal by Drew Stewart (Gastonia, N.C./North Gaston) near the end of the first quarter, Appalachian State trailed just 7-3 midway through the second period.
However, Samford put together back-to-back long touchdown drives (71 and 80 yards) to close the first half and took a commanding 21-3 lead into the locker room. Appalachian never drew any closer and avoided being held to single-digit points at home for the first time in 21 years whenKameron Bryant (Cary, N.C./Panther Creek) found Andrew Peacock (Durham, N.C./Northern Durham) for a 15-yard touchdown pass with 4:11 to go in the ballgame.
True freshman running back Marcus Cox (Dacula, Ga./Dacula) continued to be a bright spot for the Mountaineers, racking up 118 all-purpose yards (79 rushing, 39 receiving) on 24 touches (18 rushes, five receptions). However, he was held without a touchdown for the first time since the season opener at Montana.
Despite another impressive outing by Cox, the top individual performance of the afternoon came from true freshman punter Bentlee Critcher(South Daytona, Fla./Warner Christian Academy), who averaged 54.9 yards over nine punts, good for the fourth-longest single-game average in school history. Four of his nine punts pinned Samford inside the 20 yard line.
Fabian Truss led Samford with 217 all-purpose yards, including 82 rushing and 73 receiving, while quarterback Andy Summerlin completed 20-of-31 passes for 265 yards and a touchdown.
Appalachian State looks to snap its three-game losing streak — its longest since 1993 — when it travels to Furman next Saturday. Game time is set for 1:30 p.m. at Paladin Stadium in Greenville, S.C.
NOTES: Dating back to its season-ending loss to Illinois State in the second round of the 2012 NCAA Division I Football Championship, Appalachian State has lost four-straight home games, its longest home losing streak since it dropped four in a row at then-Conrad Stadium in 1970-71 (Oct. 31, 1970 – 9-7 vs. East Tennessee State; Nov. 7, 1970 – 42-35 vs. Samford; Nov. 14, 1970 – 37-13 vs. Wofford; Sept. 25, 1971 – 26-0 vs. Western Carolina) … Appalachian dropped to 6-2 all-time versus Samford, including a 5-1 record in six Southern Conference matchups … Appalachian was the only team Samford had not previously beaten in five-plus seasons in the SoCon … in addition to the 223 yards being the Mountaineers’ fewest since the season-opening loss at NC State in 2006, it was also their lowest offensive output versus an NCAA Division I FCS opponent since Oct. 16, 2004 at Georgia Southern (175 yards in a 54-7 loss) and its lowest total at home since Aug. 31, 1991 versus Marshall (211 yards in a 9-3 win) … Appalachian is 1-5 for the first time since 1993 and its three-game losing streak is its longest within the confines of one season since it dropped three in a row from Oct. 9-23, 1993 (at Furman, vs. Georgia Southern, at Marshall) … the Mountaineers have not been held to single-digit points at home since they were shut out by The Citadel (25-0) in 1992.