Nov. 29, 2008

 

Courtesy of Appalachian State

BOONE, N.C. – Appalachian State University quarterback Armanti Edwards threw for a school-record 433 yards to lead No. 2-seeded Appalachian to a 37-21 victory over visiting South Carolina State in the opening round of the NCAA Division I Football Championship on Saturday afternoon at Kidd Brewer Stadium.
 
With the win, Appalachian (11-3) advances to next Saturday’s (Dec. 6) national quarterfinals, to host Richmond, a 38-10 winner over Eastern Kentucky in Saturday’s first round. Kickoff time will be determined by the NCAA on Sunday.
 
The Mountaineers advanced to the quarterfinals for the fourth-straight year on the strength of the best performance by a passer in school history. Edwards completed 29-of-41 passes for four touchdowns and surpassed the previous single-game school record of 413 yards, set by Richie Williams in a 40-of-45 effort versus Furman in 2004.
 
Despite Edwards’ gaudy numbers, Appalachian needed all four quarters to dispatch of SC State (10-3). ASU trailed twice in the ballgame and held a slim 24-21 advantage after three quarters. Still clinging to the three-point lead early in the fourth quarter and facing third-and-12 from its own 23-yard line, Edwards and wide receiver T.J. Courman turned in the play of the day and, perhaps, the biggest play of the season to this point.
 
On the spectacular play, Edwards was flushed from the pocket by a swarm of Bulldog linemen. He weaved his way around the backfield to avoid a sack and
eventually found Courman over the middle. Courman caught the ball several yards shy of the first-down marker but twisted and turned his way through a maze of defenders and eventually dove for a 13-yard gain and a first down. Nine plays later, Edwards hit Brian Quick on a slant pattern on third-and-goal from the two to stretch the Mountaineer advantage to 31-21.
 
From there, Appalachian’s defense took over, limiting SCSU to just 56 yards over its final 14 plays to seal the victory.
 
After the Bulldogs turned the ball over on downs with 2:20 left to play, the Mountaineers appeared to be content to run out the clock. But, in a curious move, SCSU chose to call timeouts with 18 and 12 seconds remaining. With the ‘Dogs apparently thinking that the outcome was still in doubt, the Apps put an exclamation mark on the triumph when Edwards found Quick for a highlight-reel-worthy 33-yard touchdown with five seconds to go.
 
Quick was Edwards’ top target on the afternoon with five catches for 95 yards and the two scores. CoCo Hillary was right behind with 94 yards and a touchdown on five catches, while tight end Ben Jorden scored the Mountaineers’ first TD of the day on an acrobatic six-yard catch and finished with a career-best six receptions for 62 yards.
 
Defensively, D.J. Smith led all players with a career-high-tying 16 tackles. Fellow linebacker Pierre Banks added 10 stops and broke up five passes and defensive end Jabari Fletcher made eight tackles, had three quarterback hurries and forced a fumble.
 
For SCSU, William Ford carried 23 times for 117 yards and a touchdown. Quarterback Malcolm Long completed just 17-of-40 passes but threw two touchdowns.
 
NOTES: With an 11-yard completion to Jorden on the second play of the game, Edwards became only the 26th player in NCAA Division I FCS (Football
Championship Subdivision – formerly Division I-AA) history with 10,000 yards of total offense in a career ... the junior accomplished the feat in just his 36th career start ... the 400-yard passing effort was the sixth in school history and one of two not posted by Williams, who was in attendance to see his single-game passing record fall ... Edwards’ 29 completions, 433 passing yards and four touchdown passes all set ASU postseason records ... the Southern Conference’s Offensive Player of the Year had a string of 176-consecutive pass attempts without an interception snapped in the first quarter ... the interception-less streak was just 27 shy of the SoCon record ... he threw two interceptions in a game for the first time since Oct. 20, 2007 versus Georgia Southern ... Mark LeGree (Columbus, Ga./Pacelli Catholic) recorded his 10th interception of the season on SCSU’s first play, extending his national lead and ASU single-season record and tying the SoCon record held by Furman’s Vince Perone, Jr. (1972) and East Carolina’s Jim Bolding (1975) ... Appalachian extended its FCS record for consecutive postseason wins in contiguous years with its  13th playoff victory in a row ... the Mountaineers won for the 42nd time in its last 43 home games ... the crowd of
13,712 that braved a damp, blustery day marked the third-largest opening-round playoff attendance in school history.