Here we go with Week 3:
#21 The Citadel (2-0, 1-0) @ #8 Appalachian State (1-1, 0-0)
TV/Video: GoASU TV
Radio: WKBC 97.3 Wilkesboro, Charlotte, Winston Salem, Hickory & High Country; WATA 1450 Boone, Blowing Rock; ESPN 730 Charlotte, Rock Hill, Salisbury; WCOG 1320 Greensboro, Winston Salem, WMFR 1230 Greensboro, High Point; WSML 1200 Burlington, Greensboro; WCMC 99.9 Raleigh, WZGM 1350 Black Mountain, Asheville; WPWT 870 Bristol, Johnson City; WTOE 1470 Spruce Pine, WDNC 620 Durham, WLON 1050 Lincolnton
Jeff Sagarin Ratings:
Home: 3 points
Appalachian is favored by the Sagarin ratings by 3 points (rounded).
Series: Appalachian leads 29-11
Last Meeting: Appalachian 49, The Citadel 42, October 15, 2011, Charleston, SC
WXAPP’s Boone Gameday Weather Trends:
Partly Cloudy, Miniscule chance of pop up shower. Heck of a day for tailgating!
Kickoff: Temperatures in the mid 70’s
End of Game: Temperatures in the upper 60’s
As expected, Montana and Appalachian State gave every fan exactly what they were looking for last weekend. The first half was full of offense as Montana took an early lead only to see Appalachian string together three consecutive touchdowns. Montana finished the scoring in the first half that saw the score tied at intermission. The defenses ruled the second half as the third quarter was scoreless until both teams traded touchdowns in the beginning of the final stanza. Appalachian’s defense rose to the occasion, unlike the two schools previous meetings. Patrick Blalock and Demetrius McCray finished off Montana with interceptions on the Griz’ final two possessions to seal a Mountaineer win, that was twelve years in the making. Quickly though, Appalachian’s attention turns to their first conference opponent fresh off of a win over the third ranked Georgia Southern Eagles. The Citadel had Southern on the ropes last season, but fell just short in Statesboro. This past Saturday, the Cadets were just good enough to squeeze past Southern by connecting on a field goal with less than a minute remaining in the game. Any chances that The Citadel might catch Appalachian on a Montana hangover were erased with the Bulldog victory. The Mountaineers have not lost to The Citadel in Boone since 1992. Most of the players on both teams had yet to be born the last time The Citadel drove off the mountain with a victory. Will history repeat itself or can the Bulldogs start off conference play with wins over two perennial contenders?
The Citadel opened their season with a win over cross town rival Charleston Southern. The game was tied at 14 at halftime, before The Citadel rolled off 35 unanswered points to win. The Bulldogs racked up 479 yards rushing and never punted. However, Citadel lost two of their six fumbles and turned the ball over once on downs. Going for it on fourth down in a wishbone offense is not uncommon and neither is mishandled snaps and handoffs, but six fumbles, lost or not is a problem. Last week against Southern, the two teams combined for eight fumbles. The Citadel only lost one and the Eagles lost two, but the timing was most important. Georgia Southern fumbled on its 27 and 39 yard lines on its first two possessions. On both occasions, the Bulldogs scored touchdowns and led 14-0 just barely halfway through the first quarter. Georgia Southern scored touchdowns on its next two possessions to tie the game at 14. On its next possession, The Citadel booted in its first of three field goals of the game to take a 17-14 lead.
What might have been the play of the game as far as momentum was concerned came on Georgia Southern’s final possession in the first half. The Eagles worked in the passing game as time was winding down and worked to attempt a 31-yard field goal on the last play of the half. The Citadel blocked the attempt and went to the locker room with a three point advantage. Surely that play gave the Bulldogs a needed boost as they headed to the locker room. That brings back memories of the 2006 Appalachian/Furman game in Boone. Furman lined up for a field goal trailing 14-7. Corey Lynch blocked the field goal and returned it for a touchdown and 21-7 Appalachian halftime lead. The Mountaineers went on to win the game 40-7.
The Citadel forced four consecutive punts from Georgia Southern to start the second half and led 20-14 heading to the fourth quarter. Southern went ahead 21-20 with just over three minutes remaining. The Citadel nailed a field goal to give the game its final score with under a minute remaining and Southern missed another 31-yard field goal, this one wide, to give The Citadel its first win over the Eagles since 2006.
The Citadel used 11 different players to run the ball against Charleston Southern and used only six against Georgia Southern. Starting quarterback Ben Dupree ran 17 times in both games. Against CSU, he ran for 77 yards while piling up 92 yards against GSU. Dupree is the leading rusher for The Citadel in terms of carries, total yards rushing and has scored two touchdowns. Three other Bulldogs have carried for at least 14 times or more this season. Darien Robinson averages 64 yards a game and eight yards per carry while adding one touchdown. Rickey Anderson has toted the ball 14 times for 110 yards and leads the team with four rushing touchdowns. Backup quarterback Aaron Miller has rushed 14 times for 33 yards. Miller seems to be the preference when passing the ball, as he is 7/11 for 107 yards on the season, while Dupree has completed one pass this season for twenty-six yards. With eight total completions for a whopping 133 yards in two games, The Citadel’s receivers are not much to talk about with six different players catching passes.
Jamal Jackson gained his 133rd yard passing on Appalachian’s sixth drive of the season against East Carolina almost two weeks ago. Jackson has continued to throw the ball consistently since then. Jackson followed his 300 yard performance against East Carolina with a 260 passing game against Montana that included two touchdowns and zero interceptions. Jackson completed 70% of his passes against the Grizzlies in what could be considered his best start of his career since his first one, against The Citadel last year. Jackson completed 21/27 passes for 234 yards and three touchdowns last season against the Bulldogs. That game and last week against Montana were the only games in his career completing over 70% of his passes with multiple touchdowns passes and no interceptions. Also interesting about Jackson against Montana were his rushing statistics. His sixteen carries for sixty-five yards were both career highs in a single game. Jackson added his tenth career rushing touchdown against the Grizzlies and his 325 total yards was the sixth time he has gone over 300 yards total offense in only his ninth start.
For the first time this season, Appalachian fans were able to lay their eyes on Sean Price. In his first career game with significant playing time, Price flourished with eight catches for 103 yards and a touchdown. Andrew Peacock continues to lead the Apps in receiving with ten catches for 134 yards. Peacock had a dazzling catch and run last week that left a Montana defender on his behind while he saw Peacock dive into the end zone for his first score of the season. Malachi Jones was steady against Montana with four catches for thirty-four yards. Most significantly, Jones made a great sideline catch on a 3rd down and 16 that helped set up Appalachian’s final touchdown of the game. Jones ran to the sticks and made his cut and waited on the ball while dragging both feet to secure the catch. Jones made a tough play look ultra smooth in a pressure situation.
Steven Miller did something none of us have seen from him before at Appalachian. Miller carried the ball 27 times for 91 yards against Montana. That is easily his most rushing attempts in a game while wearing the black and gold. Miller’s previous high was last year, against The Citadel, when he carried eighteen times for 102 yards. In all, Miller had 76 carries all of last year and has already rushed 41 times this season. Keeping him fresh until Rod Chisholm returns will be a big key to Appalachian’s season, especially while trying to redshirt Tysean Holloway. Of Appalachian’s 80 rushing attempts this season, 74 have come from either Jackson, Miller or Chisholm.
I believe we all had this feeling that The Citadel might be slowly rising from the SoCon cellar. Perhaps, it might be happening before our eyes a lot sooner than we imagined. Keep in mind, The Citadel, Georgia Southern and Wofford all run very similar offenses. They practice against them on a daily basis almost. The Citadel basically gave one away in Statesboro last year and Georgia Southern should have been on the upset alert last week. I am not reading too much stock into their win over GSU, but it still happened, and that might be the best thing for Appalachian in the long run. The Citadel is 3-17 in Boone and has not played well in Boone in several seasons. Appalachian has scored 28 or more points in every game in Boone since The Citadel’s last win over Appalachian in 2003. The Citadel has averaged 14.5 points per game in Boone since that same game. The Mountaineers need to do what they have always done against the Bulldogs and that is jump on them early and take them out of the game. The Citadel has had the most trouble defending Mountaineer quarterbacks over the years. Whether it has been Richie, Armanti, DeAndre or even Jamal, it has been the one position that has killed The Citadel over the years. I expect Jackson to have another huge day. As always, you can almost count on The Citadel to pull of some type of trick play against Appalachian. A fake punt is almost a guarantee. Kevin Higgins mentioned it on his teleconference. Whether he was trying to spark his team or was telling the truth we might never know. Higgins said “..we aren’t good enough…and we don’t have the talent to keep up” in reference to his team’s brutal schedule that included Georgia Southern, Appalachian and NC State next week. The Citadel hopes to play one possession at a time and be in the game at the end. I just don’t think the Mountaineers will allow the fourth quarter to be one of significant importance.
The First Pick: