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Appalachian Claims Share of SoCon Championship
Courtesy: Southern Conference
Release: 11/18/2007
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Kevin Richardson became ASU's all-time leading rusher in the Mountaineer victory
Courtesy: Appalachian State
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Appalachian State 37, Chattanooga 17

 

BOONE, N.C. – It was a record-setting day at Kidd Brewer Stadium on Saturday, as Walter Payton Award candidate Kevin Richardson became Appalachian State University’s all-time leading rusher and Appalachian claimed its third-straight Southern Conference championship with a 37-17 win over Chattanooga.

Appalachian (9-2, 5-2 SoCon) became just the seventh team in the 86-year history of the SoCon to win three-consecutive conference titles, joining Duke (1943-45), West Virginia (1953-56), Chattanooga (1977-79), Furman (1980-83 and 1988-90) and Georgia Southern (1997-2002) as the only programs to accomplish the feat. After winning back-to-back outright championships, ASU shares the 2007 crown with Wofford (8-3, 5-2 SoCon). Both teams will represent the SoCon in the 16-team 2007 NCAA Division I Championship field, with league foes The Citadel, Elon and Georgia Southern (all 7-4, 4-3 SoCon) clinging to hopes to also earn a bid out of the nation’s top-ranked Division I Football Championship Subdivision conference (according to the latest Sagarin ratings).

Not to be overshadowed was the accomplishment by Richardson, a former walk-on who ran past ASU legend John Settle (1983-86) for top billing in the school’s all-time rushing annals. Richardson, who needed just 27 yards coming in to surpass Settle’s record mark of 4,409, wasted no time in making history, as he broke the record on a 10-yard gallop with 9:21 remaining in the first quarter.

From there, it became the Armanti Edwards show, as the sophomore quarterback scored on runs of seven, 28 and 40 yards in the first period to help the Mountaineers open up a 21-7 advantage.

Chattanooga (2-9, 2-5 SoCon) came roaring back in the second quarter, as it marched inside the ASU 20 yard line four times in the period. However, Appalachian limited UTC to just 10 points on the four red-zone trips and took a slim 21-17 lead into the locker room at halftime.

After surrendering 299 yards of offense in the first half, the Mountaineer defense turned up the pressure after the break. The Apps didn’t allow Chattanooga to cross the 50 yard line after the midway point of the third quarter and forced four turnovers en route to limiting the Mocs to just 99 yards of offense in the second half.

Late in the third period, defensive end Gary Tharrington turned the tide of the game when he forced and recovered a fumble by Chattanooga’s Brent Hayes at the UTC 29 yard line. Five plays later, Edwards scored his fourth touchdown of the afternoon from two yards out to give ASU a 27-17 cushion.

Thanks to great field position attained on a 17-yard punt by UTC’s Jonathan Wright, the Mountaineers stretched the lead to 30-17 on Julian Rauch’s 23-yard field goal with 8:54 remaining.

The Black and Gold defense put the finishing touches on the victory with 36 seconds remaining, when Buck Buchanan Award candidate Corey Lynch drilled Moc receiver Clint Woods as he caught a pass and Justin Woazeah scooped up the loose ball and returned it 32 yards for his first-career touchdown to close out the scoring.

Lynch helped the Mountaineers’ sterling defensive effort in the second half with an interception and a pass break-up to go along with the forced fumble. The interception was the 22nd of his career (three shy of the school record), fourth of the season and third in the past four games.

Tharrington added 10 tackles, including the forced fumble and recovery, two-and-a-half tackles for loss, a sack and a pair of quarterback hurries and Titus Howard picked off his second pass of the season. Freshman linebacker D.J. Smith led all players with 14 stops.

Offensively, Edwards and Richardson both went over the 100-yard rushing mark for the fifth time in the last 11 games they’ve played in together, with Edward rolling up a game-high 157 yards on the ground and Richardson chipping in with 103. Richardson’s record rushing total now stands at 4,486 yards while Edwards became the fastest player in school history to reach the 2,000-yard rushing plateau. In just 22 career games, Edwards has rushed for 2,081 yards, already the ninth-highest mark in school history and most ever by an ASU quarterback.

The Mountaineers discover what their path to a third-straight national championship looks like on Sunday when the Division I Championship bracket is unveiled at 3:30 p.m. on ESPNU. Appalachian will host a selection show viewing party beginning at 3 p.m. at Legends on the ASU campus. The event is open to the public and admission is free.

NOTES: Appalachian defeated Chattanooga for the 12th-straight time at home ... ASU’s last loss to UTC in Boone was in 1983 ... the Mountaineers set a school record with their 11th 30-point game of the season, breaking last year’s record of 10 ... with a crowd of 23,328, Appalachian won the FCS regular-season total attendance title with a cumulative attendance of 162,481 (27,080 average) in six regular-season home games, despite hosting one less home date than second-place Montana, which drew 162,635 fans in seven home games ... Appalachian moved to 18-0 all-time when Richardson rushes for 100 yards and 19-0 when Lynch intercepts a pass ... Edwards’ 100-yard rushing effort was the 10th of his career ... Edwards’ four rushing touchdowns were a career high.

 

 

Furman 52, Western Carolina 21

 

Cullowhee, N.C. - In their final home game as Catamounts, two Western Carolina seniors etched their names in the program's record books as the curtain fell on the tenure of its head coach. Senior wide receiver Eddie Cohen just missed his seventh-straight, 100-yard receiving game, but did set the school-record for receiving in a single-season while classmate Mike Malone used a 71-yard kickoff return for a touchdown inside the closing seconds of the season to eclipse the school's single-season, all-purpose yards record in a 52-21 home loss to the Furman Paladins at E.J. Whitmire Stadium.

 

The loss relegated Western (1-10, 0-7 SoCon) to its 15-straight defeat in Southern Conference play while also sealing its second-consecutive winless season in league play. It was also the last game for WCU head coach Kent Briggs who will be relieved of his coaching responsibilities and reassigned within the University. Furman finished the year at 6-5 overall and 4-3 in league play, tied for third place.

 

"This was not the day that we wanted," said an emotional Briggs during post-game interviews after emerging from the team locker room. "Our guys played hard; we had a lot of guys who were banged up and hurt and some who hadn't played that much and were very competitive against a very good football team. You've got to give Furman credit - they finished the season very strong."

He added, "I thought early in the game we were competitive and had a lot of opportunities. If we could have taken advantage of those opportunities then maybe it would have been a different game. Furman is too good for us not to play one of our best games of the season and that did not happen today. As coaches we will take responsibility for that, but their players gave a great effort out there."

 

Cohen, who is a strong candidate for All-SoCon honors after ranking second in the league in receiving yards this season, finished with 93 yards on five catches to eclipse the previous WCU single-season record held by Gerald Harp (1977-80). The Hilton Head, S.C., native finishes his final season with 1,208 receiving yards, fifth-most in SoCon single-season history barring the finish of Elon's Terrell Hugdins this year.

 

He also concludes his career tied for 8th on Western's career receptions list with 142.

"I wanted to get out of it what I put in this season," said Cohen who met Harp on the field during pre-game warm-ups. "As a senior, I feel that I set a standard. Going into (this year), I never thought I would break the record. I just wanted to have the best year I could possibly have. It turned out that things started going my way and the ball started rolling. I am proud to be a part of Catamount elites."

 

Earlier this season, Mike Malone rewrote Western's single-season kickoff return record book. He added his name to the all-purpose yards section on Saturday, amassing a game-high 255 all-purpose yards, including 229 on kickoff returns to finish the year with 2,143 yards, the second-most in a single-season in conference history.

 

Malone added flair to surpassing the milestone, taking a pitch from up back, sophomore Marcus Brown, and rushing straight ahead. It appeared as though he would be swallowed up by the Paladin push, but the Gainesville, Ga., native bumped it to his left, rushing down his own sidelines 71 yards for his second career kickoff return for a touchdown to provide the afternoon's final margin, 52-21.

 

After Furman had scratched the scoreboard first with a 10-play, 70-yard drive for an early, 7-0, lead, the Catamount offense got on track. Senior signal caller Todd Spitzer orchestrated an eight-play, 59-yad drive culminating with a two-yard TD strike to freshman full back Andrew Rogers, which was only his fourth career catch but second touchdown. The drive was spurred by three L.J. Davis runs, a 10-yard scamper by Spitzer and a 33-yard hook-up from Spitzer to Cohen which nearly went six before he was corralled inside the 10-yard line.

 

Spitzer finished his career with a 7-of-15 showing for 90 yards and the TD in the starting role. Red-shirt freshman Adam Hearns was 4-of-7 for 30 yards, but led the team with 37 yards rushing on eight carries and one score.

 

The two teams remained deadlocked in a defensive slugfest until late in the second quarter when Furman scored 17-unanswered points to lead at intermission, 24-7.

 

Set up by a 33-yard punt return, the Paladins moved 37 yards in seven plays including three-straight rushes by Jerome Felton before quarterback Renaldo Gray plunged in from four yards out for the 14-7 lead. On the ensuing drive, the Catamount offense sputtered with a three-and-out while Furman went to the air for a 58-yard scoring strike from Gray to Patrick Sprague for two scores one minute apart. The half concluded with a WCU fumble resulting in a 59-yard Paladin drive and a 21-yard Scott Beckler field goal.

 

Out of the halftime locker room, the two squads traded punts before the first of Spitzer's two interceptions led to Furman seizing a 31-7 lead as Gray scampered 37 yards to pay dirt just four and a half minutes into the final half. The Paladins would score two more touchdowns to lead 45-7 before Western was able to light the board again.

 

On the second play of the final quarter, Hearns eluded several Paladin defenders, found a seam and danced into purple & gold end zone with a 38-yard scoring run.

 

Malone closed Western's scoring with his 71-yard kickoff return inside the final two minutes of the game.

 

All told, Furman scored 38-straight points before Western was able to break through for Hearns' fourth rushing score of the season.

 

Furman's Gray finished 12-of-18 passing for 170 yards and a touchdown, while also rushing for 122 yards and two scores. Felton, who blistered the Cats last season for a conference-record six touchdowns, was held to 72 yards on the ground and no scores. Tight end Larry Hedden led all Paladin receivers with 74 yards receiving on six catches.

 

Defensively for the Catamounts, junior Quinton Phillips led the way with a game-high 17 tackles marking his fifth game with double-digit stops. He finishes the year with 127 tackles, including 63 solo hits, to rank fifth on WCU's single-season chart. Joining Phillips in double-figures were sophomore safety Chris Collins and junior linebacker Michael Shaw with a dozen tackles apiece.

 

 

The Citadel 70, VMI 28

 

Lexington, Va. – The Citadel football team scored early and often en route to a 70-28 route of rival VMI in The Military Classic of the South. The Bulldogs maintained their claim to the coveted Silver Shako trophy behind 509 yards of total offense and a record for points scored at Alumni Memorial Field.

 

The Citadel (7-4, 4-3 Southern) ended the 2007 season with a winning record for the first time in 10 years and recorded seven wins for the first time since 1992. The Keydets ended their season with a 2-9 mark.

 

The 70-point mark on the scoreboard is the third-highest point total scored by the Bulldogs in school history and the second highest this season. That mark is also the most number of points scored by any team at Alumni Memorial Field, topping VMI’s 69-point performance in a 69-0 rout of UCF in 1982. The Citadel scored 76 points in a 76-0 win over Webber International on Sept. 8 which is the second-highest number of points scored by the Bulldogs in program history.

 

The offensive records fell quickly Saturday with the Bulldogs ending the 2007 season with 434 points, the most ever scored by a Citadel team in a season. Andre Roberts became the first Bulldog receiver since 1971 to record over 1,000-yards receiving in a season while Tory Cooper, who set a new points scored record at 126 in a season, became the 11th Bulldog in school history to rush for over 1,000 yards.

 

That Cooper and Roberts tandem is only the second duo in school history to surpass the 1,000 mark in rushing and receiving in the same year. Jon Hall rushed for 1,230 yards while Brian Baima notched 1,230 receiving yards in the coincidental 1971 season.

 

The Bulldogs took a quick 7-0 lead in the game at the 14:16 mark in the first quarter as Tory Cooper took a two-yard run into the end zone. Mike Adams came on and kicked a school record 47th PAT this season. The Citadel started the drive on the 19-yard line as Taylor Cornett took a short game-opening kickoff 53 yards to the Keydet 19.

 

Blanchard added another touchdown to the board after running out of an empty backfield 30-yards for the score, giving the Bulldogs a 14-0 lead.

 

The Citadel drove down the field in eight plays early in the second quarter over the course of 2:55 to take the 21-0 lead. The 89-yard drive was capped off by a 10-yard touchdown reception by Tim Higgins as Higgins scored his fourth touchdown of the season.

 

Joey Robinson put VMI on the board with 11:15 left in the second quarter, running 35 yards for the score. The Keydets were given great field position on the two-play drive, getting the ball on The Citadel 38-yard line after an onside kickoff attempt did not go as planned.

 

Cooper scored his second rushing touchdown of the game with 7:36 remaining in the second quarter, running the ball in from eight yards out. Cooper’s run ended a 10-play, 60-yard drive as the Bulldogs marched down the field in 3:39.

 

The Citadel took a 35-7 lead as Cooper ran for a 50-yard score with 4:44 left in the second quarter. Cooper’s run was only the second play of the drive as Cooper returned the Keydet punt to The Citadel 46.

 

Getting the ball back on their own 26 with 4:44 remaining in the half, VMI took the ball 13 yards in six plays before Terrence Reese recorded the first interception of his career on the VMI 45-yard line.  Reese returned the ball two yards to the VMI 43 and a personal foul on the Keydets moved the ball to the VMI 28 for the Bulldogs.

 

Taking over with 1:29 left in the half, Blanchard engineered a 14-yard drive in 29 seconds to give the Bulldogs a 42-7 advantage with 1:00 left in the half. That drive ended with Tim Higgins catching a nine-yard reception for the score.

 

VMI scored quickly at the start of the second half as Tim Maypray ran back a 99-yard kickoff return to give the Keydets 14 points. The Bulldogs responded in kind with a two-play, 38-yard drive for the 49-14 advantage. That quick response ended with a 23-yard reverse by Ta'Mar Jernigan.

 

The Bulldogs forced VMI to go three-and-out following that score and the Bulldogs came back with another two-play drive, going 60-yards in 13 seconds as Blanchard connected to Roberts both times. The first connection was a 15-yard pass, getting another 15-yards on a Keydet unsportsmanlike conduct penalty. Roberts then caught a 30-yard pass from Blanchard, giving the Bulldogs a 56-14 advantage.

 

The next Bulldog touchdown took more effort as Blanchard led the Dogs down the field in 10 plays, going 48 yards in 5:35 with Taylor Cornett running the ball in from six-yards out.

The final touchdown of the game came as Joshua Lawson recovered a fumble off a blown punt snap on the VMI 3-yard line. Cam Turner, who came on in relief of Blanchard, ran the ball in from three-yards out for the Bulldogs’ final touchdown.

 

 

Elon 38, Stony Brook 23

 

ELON, N.C. – T.J. Clegg rushed for a career-high 81 yards and a touchdown and Michael Mayers hauled in nine catches for a game-high 145 yards, lifting No. 24 Elon to a 38-23 Senior Day triumph over Stony Brook in the season finale for both teams Saturday afternoon at Rhodes Stadium.

The Southern Conference single-season record holder with 223 career catches, Mayers (2004-07) fell one reception shy of the Elon record of 224 by Richard McGeorge (1966-69). Mayers’ 49 yards on three kickoff returns boosted his season total to 863 kickoff return yards, propelling him past George Dixon’s 822 in 1987 for a new Elon milestone.

The Seawolves (6-5) came back from a 31-13 deficit in the fourth quarter with a 38-yard field goal by Luke Gaddis and a three-yard touchdown from Steve Austin to Lynell Suggs, drawing within 31-23 with 7:01 remaining. Bo Williamson eluded and dragged multiple defenders to punch in a touchdown on a 19-yard pass play from Scott Riddle with 3:27 left, clinching the victory for the Phoenix (7-4).

“The thing that has me feeling good right now is Bo Williamson’s play for our last score,” Elon coach Pete Lembo said. “That speaks volumes to the kind of effort and determination you need to win and improve as a program. That lasting impression of what Bo did means a lot and says a lot.”

Riddle connected on 24 of his 30 passes with one interception for 296 yards and two touchdowns as the Phoenix claimed the program’s best season in seven years. Elon last finished 7-4 in 2000, but endured six consecutive losing campaigns for the only time in the 86-year history of the program prior to this year. The Phoenix ended up 5-1 at Rhodes Stadium for its best home record since going 5-1 at Burlington Memorial Stadium in 2000.

“We’re excited to finish up the season with a win and hopefully will remain ranked in the top 25,” Lembo said. “We’re making progress and need to continue work extremely hard at it.”

Riddle set Southern Conference single-season records for the most passes attempted at 508 (the previous mark was 490 by Chattanooga’s Chris Sanders in 1999), most passing yards at 3,817 yards (the previous milestone was 3,691 by Sanders in 2000), highest average of yards of total offense at 347.0 (the old record was 341.5 by Sanders in 2000) and most touchdowns responsible for at 40 (the previous plateau was 38 by Georgia Southern’s Chaz Williams in 2004).

With 346 completions, Riddle narrowly missed the NCAA freshman record of 353 passes by Southern Louisiana’s Martin Hankins in 2003. With a 68.1 completion percentage, he fell just shy of the SoCon’s top mark of 68.5 by Furman’s Billy Napier in 2002. Riddle fell four yards shy of registering his 10th passing performance of 300+ yards and tying the NCAA Record by Mississippi Valley State’s Willie Totten in 1984 and Idaho’s John Friesz in 1989.

With 3,738 yards of total offense, Riddle eclipsed the NCAA freshman milestone of 3,601 yards by New Hampshire’s Ricky Santos in 2004 while falling just short of the SoCon record of 3,756 yards by Sanders in 2000. He tied Santos’ NCAA freshman record of 31 touchdown passes. Santos played in 13 games his freshman season.

Riddle easily surpassed the NCAA freshman record of 313.7 yards of total offense per game by Alcorn State’s Steve McNair in 1991. He also tied the SoCon single-season records for the most consecutive games throwing a touchdown pass (all 11 just like Marshall’s Todd Donnan in 1994) and most games (and most consecutive games) passing for 200+ yards (all 11 just like Marshall’s Tony Petersen in 1987 and Sanders in 1999 and 2000).

Elon’s Terrell Hudgins reeled in nine receptions for 99 yards with a touchdown, but narrowly missed the NCAA record for the most passes caught in a single season by Brown’s Stephen Campbell. Hudgins ended up with 117 catches while Campbell snagged 120 receptions in 2000. With 18 touchdown catches, Hudgins fell just shy of the SoCon single-season record of 19 by Marshall’s Randy Moss in 1996.

Phoenix place kicker Andrew Wilcox finished his junior season with a perfect 50-for-50 campaign in the PAT department while also booting his 37th career field goal. He also broke a pair of Elon records – the most extra points in a single season and the most field goals made in a career. Dave Davis set the previous PAT record with 46 in 1973 while Phil Renn (1979-82) converted 36 field goals.

Josh Dudash completed 18 of 34 passes for 229 yards for the Seawolves, connecting with Suggs on eight receptions for 75 yards and a touchdown. Stony Brook’s Brandon Mason rushed for a game-high 104 yards and a touchdown.

Elon’s Brandon Wiggins collected a contest-best 18 tackles, including one TFL. Tyler Santucci amassed 13 tackles and Milo Otis racked up 11 stops with a sack for the Seawolves. The Phoenix finished with 358 yards of total offense to Stony Brook’s 319.

 

 

Colorado State 42, Georgia Southern 34

 

FT. COLLINS, Colo. – Down 25 points early in the fourth quarter, Georgia Southern scored 17 unanswered but the Eagles ran out of time losing 42-34 at Colorado State Saturday (Nov. 17).

 

After finishing last year 3-8, first-year head coach Chris Hatcher and Georgia Southern closes out the regular season 7-4.

 

Lamar Lewis started the rally with a 19-yard TD run with 8:28 left in the game. On the Rams first play they fumbled the snap and Branden Daniel recovered. However, facing 4th-and-goal from the three, Jayson Foster was flushed out of the pocket and his throw sailed just over the reach of Raja Andrews. CSU punted on its next possession and Foster returned the ball to the CSU 40.

 

Four plays later Foster scored his third touchdown of the game, a 19-yard run with 3:36 left. Jesse Hartley executed the on-sides kick and the Eagles recovered on their own 41. Foster found Irving Campbell for 12 yards on 3rd-and-13. Needing the points, Hartley came on and nailed a 35-yard attempt. That field goal was his 17th this season, tying the GS single-season record.

 

This time, the Rams recovered the kick and were able to run out the clock.

 

GS held the Rams on their opening drive and took over. The Eagles drove deep into Rams territory but for the first time in 23 quarters and overtime periods they committed a turnover.

Fullback Dusty Reddick took a hard hit and fumbled on the three. The Rams took over and marched down the field.

 

Gartrell Johnson took a handoff up the middle on 3rd-and-2 and scored from 27 yards out, putting the Rams ahead 7-0 to cap the 12-play drive with 2:36 left in the first quarter. With 8:25 left in the second quarter Caleb Hanie hit Johnson for an 8-yard TD reception. The extra point gave CSU a 14-0 lead. That also marked the largest deficit GS faced this season.

 

Foster ripped off a 39-yard run during the ensuing drive to help set up Hartley’s 35-yard field goal with 4:40 remaining. However, Johnson found the endzone again, a 7-yard run to extend their lead to 21-3.

 

After the Eagles drive stalled, CSU marched down the field again. Haynie found Luke Roberts on a 27-yard touchdown pass just seconds before halftime for a 28-3 lead.

 

Those 28 points were the most allowed by GS in a first half since Florida A&M in the first round of the 2001 playoffs. The 25-point deficit was the largest since the Eagles fell behind by 28 points to Florida on September 7, 1996.

 

Foster broke off a 33-yard TD run to start the second half and Hartley’s extra point made it a 28-10 score. Midway through the third quarter, and facing third down near midfield, Haynie hit Damon Morton on a 57-yard TD pass.

 

Foster broke through on his second TD of the game, a 12-yard run late in the third quarter to cut the deficit to 35-17. However, the Rams responded again with Kyle Bell’s 3-yard run with 13:20 left.

 

Playing in what could be his final game, Foster recorded his sixth career 100-yard rushing/passing game – 195 rushing yards on 27 attempts and 11-of-17 passing for 107 yards. It was his 18th career 100-yard rushing and 22nd career multi-touchdown game.

 

He finished this year with the second most rushing yards in program history (and third in the SoCon) with 1,844 yards (7.1 yards per carry) and 24 rushing TDs. He also threw for 1203 yards and six TDs.

 

Lewis added his fifth career 100-yard rushing game, totaling 115 yards on 24 carries. Andrews caught four passes, giving him 38 receptions this year. The junior wide receiver finished one shy of the program’s season record.

 

Senior punter Daniel Jordan was called upon twice in the game. He set a program record with 179 career punts.

 

Chris Rogers led the defense with eight tackles. Quentin Taylor and Daniel added seven tackles each.

 

Johnson rushed for 136 yards and two TDs for the Rams (2-9 overall). Hanie completed 13-of-16 passes for 244 yards and three scores. Morton caught four passes for 100 yards. Jeff Horinek registered a game-high 14 tackles.

 

GAME NOTES: Senior defensive end Joey Tuttle made his first career start... Hartley finished the year perfect on extra points, 47-of-47. He set a GS record for consecutive extra points made in a season. He also nailed 17-of-24 field goals as well, finishing with 98 points... On his first completion of the game, Foster surpassed 2,000 career passing yards. Foster joined Tracy Ham and Greg Hill as the only Eagle quarterbacks to record 3,200 rushing/2,000 passing yards. The senior QB broke Ham’s season records of total plays (431) and total offense (3,047)... Lewis just missed recording a 1,000 yard rushing season. The senior running back netted 955 yards and five TDs... Foster completed 64.1 percent of his passes this year, the second-highest percentage for a GS quarterback.

 

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