College Football: Appalachian State 35, Western Carolina 10
CULLOWHEE ó The Old Mountain Jug will stay at Appalachian State for another season. The Mountaineers are bringing home a couple of great gifts from their latest trip to Western Carolina, too.
Appalachian State closed out a perfect Southern Conference season, its fourth straight league title and assured itself a top-four seeding in the Football Championship Subdivision playoffs on Saturday with its 35-10 victory at Western Carolina.
DeAndre Presley, playing for an injured Armanti Edwards, passed for 158 yards and ran for 156 to help Appalachian State rally from a three-point halftime deficit. Wofford defeated Furman 35-10, but needed a Western Carolina victory to gain a share of the title.
Instead, the Mountaineers (10-2, 8-0 Southern Conference) won their ninth straight game. Appalachian State complete an unbeaten conference season and clinched their fourth straight league title.
“We’re going to take the jug back home,” Mountaineers coach Jerry Moore said of the rivals’ trophy a replica moonshine jug, with a Catamounts logo painted on one side, a Mountaineers on the other.
Western Carolina (3-9, 1-7), leading 10-7 at halftime, lost 14 yards in the third quarter and surrendered 28 unanswered points. The Catamounts failed to convert a first down on nine straight possessions spanning the first and second halves, and could manage only 10 points on three first-half Appalachian State turnovers. Western Carolina receivers dropped at least four passes, rushed for minus-2 net yards and finished with 74 in the passing game.
Appalachian State gained 99 yards on kick and punt returns alone.
“More of it was us,” first-year Catamounts coach Dennis Wagner said. “We had three or four opportunities (in the first half) to get the ball in the end zone and didn’t get it there. I don’t think it was a good game offensively the whole way. How many dropped balls did we have? How many times did we just not execute? The defense gave us great field position three or four times, and we just didn’t take advantage of it.”
So too did the absence of Edwards, who was available after a hip injury he suffered against Elon last week. Moore said two bad series in the second half would have brought on a quarterback change something neither quarterback was aware of.
“He’s playing his first year, and was playing high school football this time last year,” Moore said of Presley, who ran four three touchdowns and passed for a fourth. “Suddenly, it’s on his shoulders to win a championship. You have to give a guy like that a real chance, but a lot of good things didn’t happen for us in that first half.”
The Catamounts’ last win in the series, dubbed the Battle for the Old Mountain Jug, came in 2004. Appalachian State has won 26 of 33 games since the jug’s introduction in 1976. Appalachian State won last season’s game 71-35.
Adrian McLeod made two big plays to stop Appalachian State and allow the Catamounts to take a 10-7 lead.
McLeod first stopped Trey Hennessee for a 1-yard loss on fourth-and-goal from the Catamounts’ 5.
Then, McLeod tipped a pass attempt from Presley, which Mitchell Bell intercepted at midfield. It led to Blake Bostic’s 43-yard field goal late in the first half and a 10-7 lead.
Western Carolina’s Zack Jaynes scored on a 1-yard run in the first quarter for a 7-0 lead. Jaynes was 5-for-26 for 63 yards and was sacked five times.