FCS Playoffs: Illinois State 38, Appalachian State 37
BOONE — Illinois State’s Shelby Harris blocked Appalachian State University’s would-be game-tying extra point at the end of overtime to deal the Mountaineers a heart-wrenching 38-37 defeat in the second round of the NCAA Division I Football Championship on Saturday afternoon at Kidd Brewer Stadium.
No. 6 Appalachian State (8-4) rallied from an 11-point deficit in the fourth quarter to send the game to overtime but Harris’ blocked PAT lifted No. 16 Illinois State (9-3) to next weekend’s national quarterfinals.
Down 28-17 going into the final period, Appalachian put together back-to-back touchdown drives of 46 and 81 yards, sandwiched around an Illinois State field goal, to knot the score at 31-31. The Mountaineers drove to near midfield on their final possession of regulation but were forced to punt on fourth-and-one, sending the game to overtime.
Appalachian State won the coin toss and elected to play defense first in overtime but the Redbirds scored on their first play of the extra period to take a 38-31 lead. The Mountaineers needed only three plays to answer ISU’s touchdown with a four-yard scoring toss from Jamal Jackson to Andrew Peacock.
Needing only the extra point to send the contest to a second overtime, Harris broke free up the middle and easily blocked Sam Martin’s game-tying attempt.
Although Appalachian never led, the game was a nip-and-tuck affair throughout. Both teams made spectacular plays in the passing game (combining for 705 yards and eight touchdowns through the air), struggled to establish a presence on the ground (96 rushing yards for ISU, 51 for Appalachian) and excelled on third down (Illinois State converted 7-of-15 and Appalachian converted 8-of-17, including 7-of-9 in the second half).
There were also terrific individual battles throughout the evenly matched contest. Despite continuing to battle a knee injury that was sustained on Oct. 27 at Western Carolina and will require offseason surgery, Jackson completed 33-of-45 passes for 373 yards and two touchdowns. ISU’s Matt Brown countered by completing 20-of-32 passes for 322 yards and five touchdowns, which were the most touchdown passes ever allowed by Appalachian in the postseason.
Appalachian’s Sean Price caught a game-high 13 passes for 167 yards. In the process, he became the all-time NCAA Division I FCS freshman leader in receptions (81) and receiving yards (1,196), shattering the previous records of 71 receptions (set by Cal State Northridge’s Drew Amerson in 1999) and 1,073 yards (set by Marshall’s Randy Moss in 1996).
However, Redbird wideout Tyrone Walker was just as impressive with 10 catches for 176 yards and touchdowns of 41 and 32 yards.
Defensively, ASUlinebacker Jeremy Kimbrough led all players with 15 tackles in his final collegiate game.
NOTES: Appalachian State has lost three-consecutive playoff games for the first time since it lost four-straight playoff games from 1987-92 ... Each of the Mountaineers’ last three playoff defeats have come at Kidd Brewer Stadium, marking the first time it has ever lost threestraight postseason games at home ... Appalachian fell to 1-2 all-time in postseason overtime games … Martin had a spectacular day, averaging 48.9 yards over seven punts with a long of 62 and five downed inside the 20. ... in addition to recording a career-high 11 catches, Peacock also threw the game-tying 10-yard touchdown pass out of the wildcat formation to tight end Drew Bailey.
(Spartanburg, S.C./Dorman) with 3:31 to go in regulation ... the touchdown pass marked the second game in a row that Peacock has thrown a touchdown pass to Bailey, which have also been the only two pass attempts of Peacock’s career … the attendance of 16,719 was the largest for a postseason opener in Appalachian State history, surpassing the 16,233 that attended the a 45-28 win over Coastal Carolina in the first round of the 2006 NCAA Division I Football Championship.