College football: App. State 35, Richmond 31

Published 12:00 am Saturday, December 5, 2009

By Hank Kurz Jr.
Associated Press
RICHMOND, Va. ó Armanti Edwards already had beaten Richmond with his feet once, and Appalachian State’s dual-threat quarterback beat the Spiders with his arm Saturday night.Edwards threw a perfectly placed 4-yard touchdown pass to Matt Cline with 10 seconds to play, capping a wild last few minutes and giving Appalachian a 35-31 victory against the defending-champion Spiders in the FCS quarterfinals.
“Armanti put it where it needed to be, low and outside,” Cline, a one-time East Davidson standout, said of the ball that got to him just past the outstretched arms of diving safety Michael Ireland for the winner.
The Mountaineers, who had won three straight national championships before getting knocked out by the Spiders in last year’s quarterfinals, exacted their revenge after Richmond had taken the lead on a remarkable strip and fumble return by Eric McBride with 3:26 left.
An 11th consecutive victory earned Appalachian (11-2) a trip to Montana to face the top-seeded Grizzlies (13-0) next Saturday, with a spot in the national championship game awaiting the winner.
The finish Saturday was wild, beginning with McBride’s strip that looked like it might rescue the Spiders after their offense stalled.
“I kind of put to use what the coaches taught us,” the junior linebacker said.
The Spiders punted on the play, and Travaris Cadet fielded the ball inside his 10 for the Mountaineers. While he was trying to return it, McBride stripped the ball from his arms and took it 8 yards into the end zone, a stunning sequence that gave Richmond a 31-28 lead.
The Mountaineers had plenty of time, and they used almost all of it in driving 70 yards before Edwards rifled the third-down pass to Cline.
“He threw the ball where only one guy could catch it,” Richmond coach Mike London said.
Edwards, who ran for 313 yards and had 495 total yards in a playoff victory against the Spiders two years ago, ran for just 51 this time on an ailing right knee. He did run for TDs of 3 and 16 yards and complete 21 of 33 passes for 216 yards.
He was 5 of 6 for 46 yards on the winning touchdown drive.
“The last thing we said to Armanti ó you’ve got to throw the ball,” Appalachian State coach Jerry Moore said.
The touchdown capped a 21-point fourth quarter for the Mountaineers, who hadn’t led until Edwards’ second scoring run, from 3 yards out with 4:27 remaining, gave them a 28-24 edge.
Earlier in the quarter, Devon Moore had capped a three-play, 64-yard drive with a 5-yard run. He then started a 73-yard drive with runs of 15, 11 and 22 yards.
Moore, who finished with 174 yards on 20 carries, also had a 6-yard burst to set up a first-and-goal from the 3. Edwards faked the handoff to Moore on the next play and scampered untouched for the TD.
Richmond, which finished 11-2 and played its final game at University of Richmond Stadium before moving to an on-campus field next season, might soon be looking for a new coach.
London, who guided the Spiders to the national title in his first season last year, is said to be high on Virginia’s target list as the Cavaliers look to replace the fired Al Groh. London worked twice at Virginia under Groh and is widely respected as a recruiter in the state.
London declined to address speculation that he’s a candidate at UVa.