Appalachian (2-1) forced five punts and a turnover on Savannah State’s six first-half possessions and ASU’s offense countered with three touchdowns and two field goals before the break to grab the all-but-insurmountable 27-point advantage at the break.
For the second week in a row, Appalachian made its opponent pay for the decision to defer after winning the opening coin toss. Savannah State (0-3) won the toss but elected to give the ball to the Mountaineers, who marched 68 yards in seven plays and took the lead for good just 2:40 into the ballgame on a two-yard touchdown run by Travaris Cadet.
After ASU tacked on a 41-yard field goal by Sam Martin to make it 10-0, the momentum shifted entirely to the Mountaineers early in the second period, thanks to the play of true freshman defensive end James Robinson. Thanks to four completions by starting quarterback Alfred Defillipis, SSU drove all the way to the Appalachian 23 yard line and was threatening to cut into the Apps’ 10-point lead when Robinson sacked Defillipis on consecutive plays to push the Tigers out of scoring position and force a punt. The back-to-back bone-crushing sacks also knocked Defillipis, who had completed 8-of-13 passes for 81 yards in the first quarter, out of the ballgame.
The Mountaineers went on to score on its final three possessions of the first half, first on a 48-yard touchdown pass from DeAndre Presley to Brian Quick, then on a two-yard scoring dive by Presley and finally on a 51-yard field goal by Martin on the final play of the opening half.
An interception and 14-yard return by sophomore Rodger Walker set up a three-yard touchdown run by Steven Miller that stretched Appalachian’s lead to 34-0 and effectively ended the day for the Mountaineers’ starters less than 10 minutes into the second half. SSU ended ASU’s hopes for its first shutout in more than five years when backup quarterback Antonio Bostick scored on a 10-yard touchdown run early in the fourth quarter and Mountaineer backup signal-caller Jamal Jackson closed out the scoring with a 16-yard touchdown jaunt with just over two minutes to go.
Appalachian outgained Savannah State by a 283-97 margin in the first half and 420-285 for the ballgame. Combined with last Saturday’s 58-6 rout over North Carolina A&T, the Mountaineers have held consecutive opponents to fewer than 10 points for the first time in 13 years.
Five of Presley’s 11 completions were hauled in by Quick, who racked up 81 yards and moved into sole possession of second place all-time at ASU with his 24th career touchdown reception. He needs just one more touchdown catch to match the 43-year old school record of 25, set by Bob Agle from 1965-68.
Miller led ASU with 60 rushing yards on just nine carries, including a highlight-reel-worthy 30-yard gain that set up his three-yard touchdown run. Cedric Baker Boney added 58 yards on eight carries (7.2-yard averaged) and Terrence McLean chipped in with 48 yards on just five rushes (9.6 avg.) to pace the Mountaineers’ 234-yard rushing attack.
Conversely, Appalachian’s defense limited Savannah State to just 41 yards on the ground, including only four in the first half. The Mountaineers tormented the Tigers in the backfield throughout the evening, finishing with 10 tackles for loss and six sacks.
Robinson led the charge with two sacks, 2.5 tackles for loss, a quarterback hurry and a forced fumble. Linebacker Brandon Grier added 1.5 tackles for loss and a sack while true freshman Ronald Blair also had 1.5 stops behind the line of scrimmage and was in on a sack. Walker, safety Troy Sanders and linebacker Jeremy Kimbrough paced the Mountaineers with six tackles apiece.
Bostick completed 15-of-33 passes for 136 yards and ran 11 times for 37 yards for Savannah State while SSU’s Vaughn Cornelia led all players with 11 tackles.
After three non-conference games to open the season, the Mountaineers begin Southern Conference play next Saturday with a stern test versus No. 14 Chattanooga (2-1). Kickoff for the SoCon battle is set for 3:30 p.m. at Kidd Brewer Stadium.
NOTES: Appalachian has held back-to-back opponents to fewer than 10 points for the first time since 51-0 and 19-0 wins over VMI and Eastern Kentucky on Nov. 14 and Nov. 21, 1998 ... the six points allowed by ASU matches last week’s 58-6 win over N.C. A&T for the fewest points surrendered by the Mountaineers since their last shutout, a 41-0 win over Mars Hill on Sept. 16, 2006 ... ASU has won 12-consecutive regular-season home games (dating back to a 40-35 loss to McNeese State in the 2009 home opener) and is 57-4 in its last 61 home games overall ... in five night games at Kidd Brewer Stadium since 2007, ASU has won all five by an average score of 51-18 ... Appalachian is over .500 through three games for only the second time in the last four seasons ... ASU wore gold alternate jerseys for the first time this season and moved to 6-0 all-time when donning gold tops (all in the past three seasons) ... unlike past years, this season’s alternate jerseys will not be auctioned to fans but will rather become a regular part of ASU’s uniform rotation ... Martin’s 51-yard field goal on the last play of the first half was his second 51-yarder of the season and is tied for the seventh-longest field goal in school history ... Martin, who is also ASU’s punter, downed two punts inside the five yard line giving him five kicks downed inside the five this season ... Quick’s five catches moved him past Agle (146 career receptions) and into fourth place on ASU’s all-time list with 150 career receptions ... defensive back Ed Gainey and linebacker Lanston Tanyi did not participate in Saturday’s game due to a violation of team rules ... senior tight end Ben Jorden was dressed but did not play as he continues to recover from a head injury suffered last Saturday against N.C. A&T ... Jorden is expected to be at 100 percent for next Saturday's SoCon opener versus UTC.
Courtesy: Appalachian Sports Information