College Football: Appalachian State 24, Elon 16
By Bret Strelow
BOONE ó A ring flashed onto the screen between each segment of the video session Appalachian State coach Jerry Moore led Friday night.
The message wasn’t perfect, but the Mountaineers can add to their jewelry collection after escaping with a 24-16 victory against Elon in wintry conditions at Kidd Brewer Stadium on Saturday.
Appalachian (9-2, 7-0) has clinched at least a share of its fourth straight Southern Conference title and secured the league’s automatic playoff bid. Second-place Wofford lost its head-to-head meeting with the Mountaineers, who face eighth-place Western Carolina next weekend.
ASU has won three consecutive national championships, but the importance of SoCon supremacy wasn’t lost on Moore as he oversaw the special teams presentation Friday. Video coordinator Jake Stroot’s production featured images of national championship rings.
“I’m sitting there running that clicker, and I didn’t think about it when I asked him to put in a picture of a ring,” Moore said. “I really wish now I would have had him put Southern Conference championships because we have never talked about national championships very much around here.”
Armanti Edwards threw three touchdown passes and rushed for 104 yards to lead Appalachian past Elon, which started 5-0 in conference play.
The Phoenix (8-3, 6-2) could have clinched at least a share of its first SoCon title with a win. Quarterback Scott Riddle moved the chains with a rush to the ASU 32-yard line on fourth-and-1 with 57 seconds left, but he followed up with four straight incompletions.
“Anybody that knows me at least casually knows that I hate to lose and never accept losing and there’s never any moral victories,” Elon coach Pete Lembo said. “But those feelings are secondary right now to how extremely proud I am of our football team. We absolutely played our tails off. We just slugged it out with these guys.”
Edwards ó even Moore ó took some painful body blows.
Moore was an innocent bystander on the sideline when his right thigh absorbed a hit from Elon defensive back Cameron McGlenn’s helmet.
“When’s the training room open?” Moore asked. “I got rolled up on that sideline. Boy, I thought I’d broke a leg, but I guess the old sucker’s tough, too.”
Moore jokingly added, “I think he probably picked me out. I’m going to say one thing: I’m an easy target for him. I’m not very quick.”
Edwards, who tossed touchdown passes to Ben Jorden and Matt Cline to give the Mountaineers a 14-0 lead in the first 18 minutes, hurt his right knee when his foot stuck in the turf on a second-quarter scramble. Edwards flipped head over heels on the play.
Riddle’s 13-yard touchdown pass to Terrell Hudgins pushed Elon ahead 16-14 with 11:10 left in the third quarter, and Edwards connected with Brian Quick for a 22-yard score 1 minute, 21 seconds later.
“We knew they were going to bite on our play-actions,” Edwards said. “We ran our play-action sweeps, and everybody in the secondary would come down. They’d always have their eyes in the backfield, so we knew we could sneak past them.”
Edwards suffered a hip pointer on a keeper during the first series after ASU had reclaimed the lead, and freshman backup DeAndre Presley entered the lineup for the end of that drive.
Edwards started the next possession and said the hip injury forced him to underthrow a first-down pass that was intercepted by McGlenn. Interference on McGlenn negated the result, and Presley took over.
He fired an 18-yard completion to Jorden on third-and-6 and moved the Mountaineers from their 40 to Elon’s 7 in 10 plays. Jason Vitaris made a 24-yard field goal with 9:03 left.
“I felt comfortable, but a little jittery also and a little nervous,” Presley said. “Coach Moore says, ‘You’re always one play away, so you can’t show any nervousness. You have to step in and be a leader.’ ”
Appalachian’s D.J. Smith and Lanston Tanyi stopped running back Brandon Newsome for no gain on a fourth-and-1 carry from Elon’s 40 with 6:32 left.
Riddle completed two passes on the Phoenix’s final drive to Hudgins, the SoCon’s all-time receiving leader, but he finished with only three catches for 23 yards.
ASU’s Mark LeGree recorded his ninth interception in the early going to set the school’s single-season record, and the Mountaineers held Elon to its lowest point total since a 28-10 loss to Richmond in the opener.
“It shows how good our defense is when it boils down to it,” Edwards said. “You can’t really see how well our defense plays when we’re up 35 points. In the time of need, when we need them, they always come through.”
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. ó Dane Romero ran for 124 yards and two touchdowns to lead Wofford to a 28-7 victory over Samford.
The Terriers (8-2, 6-1) jumped out to a 14-0 lead in the first quarter after Stev Davitte scored on a 3-yard run and Romero added a 2-yard touchdown. Romero, who finished with 27 carries, had a 2-yard rushing score to put Wofford ahead 21-0 in the second.
Ga. Southern 17, Furman 10
GREENVILLE, S.C. ó Lee Chapple passed for 323 yards and two touchdowns to lead Georgia Southern to a 17-10 victory. Chapple set single-game records for completions (39) and attempts (56) and threw a pair of touchdown passes to Steve Cundari as the Eagles (6-5, 4-4) ran out to a 17-0 lead over the Paladins (7-4, 4-3).
The Citadel 24, Chattanooga 21
CHARLESTON, S.C. ó Andre Roberts scored on a 43-yard punt return for the game-winning touchdown with 1:46 remaining in the game to propel The Citadel (4-7, 2-6) to a 24-21 victory against Chattanooga (1-10, 4-7).