College Football: Appalachian State 26, Furman 14

Published 12:00 am Sunday, October 26, 2008

By Bret Strelow
BOONE ó Appalachian State’s defense finally registered a fumble recovery, but the Mountaineers couldn’t afford to stop at one.
Appalachian forced four turnovers and held off 18th-ranked Furman 26-14 at Kidd Brewer Stadium on Saturday. Armanti Edwards threw two touchdown passes and rushed for one score to help head coach Jerry Moore earn his 200th career victory.
Furman (6-3, 3-2 Southern) lost two fumbles inside ASU’s 20-yard line in the first half, and the second-ranked Mountaineers (6-2, 4-0) added to a slim fourth-quarter lead after Pierre Banks knocked the ball loose on a sack of Jordan Sorrells.
Appalachian and Nicholls State entered Saturday as the only FCS teams without a fumble recovery this season.
“It seems like the last couple years plays like that bounced our way and we’ve been blessed,” said Banks, who forced two fumbles. “This year it kind of feels like the ball’s going the other way. It was good to get a couple of those and get some confidence.”
Furman took its first lead following a bizarre sequence in which center Brett Irvin shotgun-snapped the ball over Edwards’ head. The play started at the Paladins’ 27, and linebacker Brandon Williams made the recovery 44 yards away at the ASU 29.
The Mountaineers, who missed the extra point after their first score, fell behind 14-13 on Tersoo Uhaa’s 2-yard touchdown run with 14:20 remaining in the game. Edwards needed only 61 seconds to direct a 58-yard drive that ended with a 17-yard touchdown pass to tight end Ben Jorden. One play earlier, 6-foot-5 receiver Brian Quick outleaped defensive back Masharn Austin to make a 44-yard reception.
“I have to go get it,” Quick said. “That’s my weapon. That’s what I use on the field, to jump up there and go get it.”
Furman advanced to ASU’s 35 on the next series, but Northwest Cabarrus alum Anthony Williams pounced on the fumble created by Banks. Edwards engineered a 10-play scoring drive that continued when the Paladins were called for pass interference and roughing the passer on fourth-and-12 from the Furman 23. T.J. Courman hauled in a 15-yard touchdown reception with 5:45 left.The Paladins limited Edwards to 16 yards (his career low as a starter) on 16 carries. He went 16-of-24 passing for 186 yards.
“Every team comes in trying to stop our running game, so the passing game will always be there for us,” Edwards said. “It was kind of shaky in the first half, and we started opening it up more in the second.”
Appalachian took a lead into the break thanks to Furman’s generosity.
Edwards scored on a 14-yard run less than three minutes into the game, and the Paladins wasted two chances to pull ahead.
Receiver Sederrik Cunningham took a direct snap from the ASU 15 and reached the 4 before Travis Dowda jarred the ball loose. D.J. Smith pounced on it at the 1, and Devin Radford’s 84-yard run enabled the Mountaineers to move 99 yards in six plays. Josh Jackson scored on a 4-yard carry, and Jason Vitaris’ extra point pushed Appalachian in front 13-0.
Furman trailed 13-7 as it pushed deep into ASU territory late in the first half, and Banks forced Uhaa to cough up the ball on a first-down carry from the 17. Jacque Roman made the recovery at the 14 with 1:25 remaining.
The Paladins outgained Appalachian by 74 yards on the ground but scored only two times in five red-zone trips.
“I was really proud of our defense,” Moore said. “They caused turnovers that keep you from winning a tight ballgame like that.”
NOTES: Dowda, Appalachian’s starting nickelback, suffered a concussion in the first half. Billy Riddle (Davie County) played almost the entire second half in the secondary and made six tackles. He nearly picked off a pass. “We’re having a lot of guys step up and play well,” Moore said. “Billy Riddle is the first guy that comes to mind.” … Defensive lineman Gordy Witte (Salisbury) made one stop. … Wofford, which beat Elon, is tied with Appalachian for first place in the league. The Terriers visit Boone on Friday for a game that will be televised by ESPN2.