No. 2 Appalachian State 24, No. 10/11 Elon 16
BOONE, N.C. — No. 2 Appalachian State University became just the fourth program in Southern Conference history to win four-consecutive football championships with a 24-16 win over No. 11 Elon on Saturday afternoon at wintry Kidd Brewer Stadium.
With a steady rain-snow mix falling throughout the game and wind-chill factors dipping into the low 30s, Appalachian (9-2, 7-0 SoCon) scored the game’s final 10 points to thwart Elon’s bid for its first-ever SoCon title.
The Mountaineers started quickly, as tight end Ben Jorden caught a 13-yard touchdown pass from Armanti Edwards 11 minutes into the game and Edwards found Matt Cline for a 33-yard touchdown pass early in the second quarter to take a 14-0 lead.
However, Elon (8-3, 6-2 SoCon) stormed back to score the game’s next 16 points and take a two-point advantage early in the third period. The damage could have been even worse, but all-conference kicker Andrew Wilcox missed the extra point following Scott Riddle’s 13-yard touchdown pass to Terrell Hudgins that would have stretched the Phoenix lead to 17-14.
Elon’s only lead of the game lasted just 1:12, as Appalachian took the lead for good four plays later when Edwards found freshman Brian Quick for an acrobatic 22-yard touchdown connection that gave ASU the advantage back at 21-16.
With Edwards and starting running back Robert Welton both on the sideline with injuries, true freshman quarterback DeAndre Presley and reserve running back Josh Jackson led the Mountaineers on a 12-play, 68-yard drive that milked 5:46 off the clock, capped by Jason Vitaris’ (Seneca, S.C./Seneca) 24-yard field goal that extended the lead to 24-16 with 9:03 to play. Presley and Jackson accounted for all but four yards on the drive.
From there, the Black-and-Gold defense took over to seal the victory. Elon advanced the ball to near midfield on series following Vitaris’ field goal, but on fourth-and-one, true freshman defensive end Lanston Tanyi and sophomore linebacker D.J. Smith stuffed running back Brandon Newsome for no gain to stall the Phoenix drive. On its next possession, Elon drove all the way to the ASU 32, but Appalachian forced four-straight incomplete passes to take over with 38 seconds remaining.
One kneel by Presley later, the Mountaineers were celebrating their fourth-straight conference title and the SoCon’s automatic berth in the NCAA Division I Championship playoffs.
Edwards finished the day with 251 yards of total offense (147 passing, 104 rushing) and three touchdown passes. He is just 25 yards shy of becoming 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.
Defensively, the Apps were led by linebacker Jacque Roman’s 10 tackles and defensive end Jabari Fletcher’s two sacks and force fumble. Defensive back Mark LeGree notched his ninth interception of the season, which leads the nation and breaks the 45-year-old ASU single-season record set by Larry Harbin in 1963.
Appalachian limited Riddle, the SoCon’s leading passer, to just 196 yards on 20-of-39 attempts and Hudgins, the league’s all-time leader in receptions, to just three catches for 23 yards. Newsome rushed 25 times for 118 yards, but the Phoenix’s 16 points were its second-lowest output of the season.
Before it sets its sights on an unprecedented fourth-consecutive national championship, Appalachian looks to closes out its fourth-ever perfect SoCon campaign when it squares off with archrival Western Carolina next Saturday in Cullowhee, N.C. Kickoff for the Battle for the Old Mountain Jug is set for 3:30 p.m. The contest is slated to be televised on SportSouth.
Elon visits Liberty in its regular-season finale with kickoff slated for 1 p.m. in Lynchburg, Va.
NOTES: Edwards’ (hip) and Welton’s (shoulder) injuries will be re-evaluated on Sunday ... Edwards completed 12-of-14 passes without an interception to stretch his string of consecutive passes without an INT to 171 ... the SoCon single-season record is 203, set by Furman’s Braniff Bonaventure in 1996 ... Appalachian won for the 40th time in its last 41 home games ... the only other programs to ever win as many as four SoCon titles in a row were West Virginia (1953-56), Furman (1980-83) and Georgia Southern (1997-2002) ... ASU has won 13-straight over Elon ... Elon’s last win in the series came in 1964 ... ASU has won eight in a row overall and 11-straight in SoCon play ... Hudgins and The Citadel's Andre Roberts, the SoCon's only 1,000-yard receievers this season, combined for just 75 yards on nine catches versus the Mountaineers.
No. 11/9 Wofford 28, Samford 7
BIRMINGHAM, Ala.—The ninth-ranked Wofford Terriers handed the Samford football team a 28-7 setback on Senior Day Saturday afternoon at Seibert Stadium.
“You have to give Wofford credit,” Samford head coach Pat Sullivan said. “They’re an outstanding football team. With their style and the things they do, they can frustrate you.”
With the loss, Samford drops to 5-5 overall and 3-4 in Southern Conference play. Wofford improves to 8-2 overall and 6-1 in SoCon play.
For Samford, Dustin Taliaferro completed 10-of-21 passes for 130 yards and a touchdown. Riley Hawkins caught Taliaferro’s lone touchdown pass, a 53-yard strike, which was Hawkins’ lone reception of the day. DeMarcus Covington caught four passes for 49 yards in the game.
Defensively for Samford, Bryce Smith led the team with 12 tackles, including nine solo stops. Rodney Shepherd had 11 tackles and Quinton Smith followed with 10.
As a team, Wofford rushed for 349 yards on the day to Samford’s 56. The Terriers held the ball for 44:53 to Samford’s 15:07.
Individually for Wofford, Dane Romero rushed 27 times for 124 yards and two touchdowns. Mike Rucker had 13 rushes for 118 yards for the Terriers.
Wofford scored on its first possession when Stev Davitte scored on a three-yard run to cap a drive that took 7:56 off the clock. Patruck Mugan added the extra point to give the Terriers a 7-0 lead with 5:01 to go in the first quarter. Wofford struck again when Romero scored from two-yards out and Mugan added the PAT for a 14-0 Wofford lead with 10 seconds to go in the first quarter.
Romero scored his second touchdown of the game on a two-yard run with 8:54 to go in the second quarter. Mugan added the PAT to make the score 21-0.
The Terriers scored on the opening drive of the third quarter when Ben Widmyer hit Justice Joslin for a 38-yard touchdown with 13:26 to go in the quarter. Mugan’s PAT gave Wofford a 28-0 lead.
Samford got on the scoreboard with 2:16 to go in the third quarter when Taliaferro hit Hawkins for a 53-yard score. Bob Hooper kicked the extra point to close out the scoring and make the final score 28-7.
Samford will wrap up the 2008 season on Nov. 22 when the Bulldogs play at Chattanooga. The game is scheduled for a 1 p.m. Central kickoff. Wofford hopes to bolster its case for a playoff bid against Furman next Saturday. The game at Wofford’s Gibbs Stadium is slated for a noon ET kickoff and will be shown on CSS.
Georgia Southern 17, No. 16/14 Furman 10
GREENVILLE, S.C. -- Lee Chapple passed for 323 yards and two touchdowns to propel Georgia Southern to a 17-10 Southern Conference victory over FCS 14th-ranked Furman Saturday afternoon at Paladin Stadium.
Chapple, a redshirt freshman from Norcross, Ga., set school single game records for completions (39) and attempts (56) and tossed a pair of first half scoring strikes to Steve Cundari to give Georgia Southern (6-5, 4-4 SoCon) the victory in its final game of the 2008 season.
The loss all but ended the FCS playoff hopes for Furman (7-4, 4-3 SoCon), which fell for only the third time in its last 24 home games dating back to the 2005.
Counting Saturday's outcome the last five Furman-Georgia Southern games have been decided by seven points or less.
"I am very proud of our team. It was a defensive battle, especially in the second half," said Georgia Southern head coach Chris Hatcher. "Our defense has been playing very well the last four weeks, and they played great today. We talked about if we executed our game plan defensively, we really felt good about stopping them, and sure enough we did. How fitting is it that we got a fourth down stop....something that had plagued us all season long."
"We're obviously disappointed we couldn't win the game," said Furman head coach Bobby Lamb. "I don't think anybody other than the guys on our sideline thought we had a chance when we went into the fourth quarter, but we never gave up. You have to give Georgia Southern credit. They are very athletic, especially on defense, and that hurt us today."
Leading 17-10, Georgia Southern withstood a late fourth quarter Furman drive to seal the outcome. With 3:06 remaining in the game the Paladins moved from their own 17 to the GSU 24, but a pair of Jordan Sorrells passes on second and third down fell incomplete. Facing fourth-and five, Furman lined up for the play, but Georgia Southern managed to stop the clock without the benefit of having a remaining timeout. Once the play commenced Sorrells was pressured heavily on fourth-and-five, and his soft pass was intercepted by K.R. Snipes at the GSU 3 with 1:09 remaining.
Georgia Southern scored on the game's first possession, when Chapple connected with Cundari on a 32-yard strike. Adrian Mora's PAT gave the Eagles a 7-0 lead less than three minutes into the game.
Chapple and Cundari combined again for the next Georgia Southern score, hooking up on 6-yard strike at the 11:24 mark of the second quarter to finish off a 13-play, 80-yard drive and extend the Eagle advantage to 14-0.
GSU stretched its lead to 17-0 on a 42-yard Mora field goal with 50 seconds left in the first half, but Furman answered just before intermission with three pass completions to to the Eagle 17 to set up a Matthew Cesari 35-yard field goal with six seconds left.
Both teams' defenses recorded third quarter shutouts, and Furman managed to keep it a two-touchdown game when rover Max Lerner picked off a Chapple pass in end zone after Georgia Southern had moved to the Furman 18 early in the fourth quarter.
Following an exchange of punts, Furman finally got its offense in gear by moving 82 yards in nine plays for its only touchdown of the contest, which came on a 2-yard run by Tersoo Uhaa with 6:25 remaining to make it 17-10.
Georgia Southern took the ensuing kickoff and advanced to the Furman 47 before Charlie Edwards' punt was downed at the Furman 17 with 3:06 to go.
Paced by Chapple's accurate arm, the Eagles claimed a 376-305 advantage in total offense. His favorite target was Raja Andrews, who caught eight passes for 82 yards.
Brandon Williams paced Furman defensively with 13 tackles, including one for-loss and a pass deflection.
Dion DuBose topped Georgia Southern with 10 tackles and two sacks.
Furman takes on Wofford next Saturday in Spartanburg in a 12:05 game game that will televised by Comcast Sports Southeast (CSS). Georgia Southern concluded its season with the victory.
The Citadel 24, Chattanooga 21
Charleston, S.C. – Andre Roberts returned punt for a touchdown with less than two minutes in the game to lead the Bulldogs to a thrilling 24-21 homecoming victory over Chattanooga on Saturday at Johnson Hagood Stadium. Roberts broke the school’s all-time record for receiving yards in a season with a total of 1,268 yards.
The win was The Citadel’s 450th win in the program’s history, which broke a six game losing streak and improved the Bulldogs to 4-7 overall and 2-6 in the Southern Conference. The game was The Citadel’s last home game and SoCon match for the 2008 season.
Starting off the action, the Bulldogs put the first points on the board in the opening drive of the game. Driving the ball 73 yards in nine plays, taking 4:42 off the clock and collecting three first downs, Terrell Dallas topped it off with a 7-yard touchdown run at 10:18 to put The Citadel up, 7-0.
Chattanooga started their first drive on their own 32-yard line after a 21-yard kickoff return by Jordan Hazard. The Mocs quarterback Jare Gault found Blue Cooper for a 28-yard pass on the first play of the drive, putting UTC in Bulldog territory right away. However, after two short rushes and an incomplete pass, the Mocs’ Craig Camay came out to attempt a 51-yard field goal. The kick was short and the Bulldogs kept with a 7-0 lead with 7:49 left in the first quarter.
The Citadel and Chattanooga were both unable to do anything with their next two possessions, each ending with a punt.
UTC’s third punt of the game landed on the UTC 49-yard line and a 10-yard punt return by Andre Roberts put the Bulldogs in Chattanooga territory, starting the drive on the Mocs’ 39-yard line. Blanchard found Dallas for a 28-yard pass on second-and-three to give the Bulldogs a first-and-goal on the Chattanooga 4-yard line as time ran out in the first quarter. The Citadel opened the fourth quarter with a 3-yard touchdown run by Dallas, his second of the game and the fourth of the season, at 14:54 in the second quarter. The Citadel went up, 14-0.
Chattanooga soon got into the game, scoring on the next two drives. With 10:50 left in the second quarter, Gault found Chris Pitchford for a 40-yard touchdown pass for the Mocs’ first points of the game. The 66-yard drive took seven plays and ran 4:04 off the clock.
The Citadel then drove the ball to the UTC 19-yard line on their next possession, but a blocked Sam Keeler field goal was recovered by Moc J.D. Dothard and returned 64 yards for a touchdown. The score marked the first time since 1987 that a Bulldog field goal was blocked and returned for a touchdown. The Mocs tied the score, 14-14, with 3:52 left in the first half. However, The Citadel ran another scoring drive shortly before the end of the half that concluded with a 38-yard Keeler field goal with 1:06 left in the second. The Bulldogs led at the half, 17-14.
Blanchard completed the first half connecting 12-of-25 for 145 yards. Dallas recorded nine carries for 49 yards and two touchdowns, while Roberts collected six catches for 63 yards to lead the Bulldogs. The Citadel totaled 229 yards of offense, while Chattanooga totaled 19 plays for 80 yards but down by only three points.
The sky opened up and the rain came pouring down opening the second half. Chattanooga immediately took advantage and the lead when Gault found Cooper for a 31-yard touchdown pass on the second play of the drive. With 14:03 on the clock, the Mocs went up, 21-17.
The Citadel was unable to put any points on the board in the third quarter, punting on both of their possessions. Their third possession went into the fourth quarter but ended with a Dallas fumble on the 2-yard line on first-and-goal with 12:26 left in the game. The ball was recovered by Chattanooga’s Joseph Thorton and the Moc drive started on their own 2-yard line.
The Bulldog defense did not allow the Mocs to hold on to the ball as Erroll Wynn fumbled the ball on the UTC 37-yard line. It was recovered by Bulldog Kevin McCaskill but given right back to the Mocs on the next play when Blanchard threw an interception in the Bulldog end zone. However, Chattanooga fumbled it again, this time on the Bulldog 49-yard line. It was recovered by Tillman Millhouse for the Bulldogs, who took over on the spot of the fumble.
The Citadel was unable to convert the drive into a score as they turned the ball over on downs with 3:22 left in the game. The Bulldog defense forced a quick three-and-out and the Mocs’ punter Jeff Lloyd was back onto the field.
A 28-yard rugby-style punt was caught by Roberts who returned it 43-yards for the touchdown and the lead, marking his third punt return for a touchdown this season. The Bulldog defense held off the Mocs on the next drive and took over with 51 seconds left in the game, claiming the 24-21 victory.
Blanchard finished the game 18-33-1 for 221 yards. Roberts led the Bulldog offense with 246 all-purpose yards, 116 receiving in nine catches, 43 rushing in six carries and 87 yards in four punt returns. Roberts’ season total of 1,268 yards is the all-time record for yards in a season at The Citadel, passing Brian Baima (1971). His total is also good for fourth all-time in Southern Conference history. Dallas finished with 13 carries for 49 yards and two touchdowns. The Citadel totaled 358 yards of offense, 221 passing and 137 rushing. Dewitt Jones led the Bulldog defense with nine total tackles.
The Citadel will travel to Gainesville, Fla. to take on the No. 3 ranked Florida Gators on Saturday, Nov. 22 at the Swamp. Chattanooga hosts Samford next Saturday at 2 p.m. ET in the season finale for both schools.