Appalachian Football vs Campbell

Appalachian State (1-1) vs Campbell (0-2)

Saturday, September 26th, 2020 12:00pm EST

TV/Video: ESPN+

Radio: Boone/Blowing Rock: WATA 1450 AM & 96.5 FM; North Wilkesboro/Hickory/Charlotte WKBC 97.3 FM; Asheville WZGM 1350 AM; Hendersonville WHKP 107.7 FM & 1450 AM; Charlotte/Gastonia WCGC 1270 AM; Charlotte/Rock Hill WAVO 1150 AM; Greensboro/Winston-Salem/High Point WSJS 101.5 FM & 600 AM

Kidd Brewer Stadium

Capacity: 24,050

Surface: Astroturf

Jeff Sagarin Ratings

App State: 72.61

Marshall: 36.08

Home: 2.32

App State is favored by the Sagarin ratings by 38.85 points

Line: App State -35.5

Series: App State leads 2-0

Last Meeting: App State 66, Campbell 0, Boone, NC September 6, 2014

One cannot help but think about a lyric in a song that was written some time ago that may remedy some mourning over a football game outcome. “Every dog has its day, and every day has its way…of being forgotten.” This is not your typical start to this group of words on this corner of the web, but this creator needs to put it down. For every first, there is a worst, you just don’t know when to expect it. The Mountaineers scored their fewest points in a game in the FBS era last weekend. In a game played against an old rival, the battle resembled one that could have occurred 30 years ago. But once again, that is the past, and moving forward is imperative. Plenty of goals are still in reach, and there is plenty to play for. The next opponent is perceived to have lesser talent, but they have shown a ton of improvement and have brought the fight to each foe despite coming up short. The Mountaineers do need to put last Saturday’s performance behind, yet at the same time, learn from what left that bad taste lingering.

The next opponent is Campbell, an up and coming Big South squad that is allowed to play four non-conference opponents this fall. Whether or not a conference slate is played in the spring is yet to be seen. Regardless, the Camels have been a nuisance to Sun Belt opponents. Campbell really should have beaten Georgia Southern after taking at 13-6 lead into halftime and extending it to 20-6 just moments into the third quarter. However, the shorthanded and contact-traced Eagles stormed back with three straight scores to take a 27-20 late in the game. Campbell scored a touchdown with just fifteen seconds remaining and their failed two point conversion resulted in a 27-26 loss. Last Friday night, Campbell visited Coastal Carolina before a national audience on ESPN, and the short week may have worn them out. Coastal showed a balanced offense with an efficient passing game and were hardly tested. Campbell did close the game to two scores early in the fourth quarter, but the Chanticleers put any upset bids to rest by scoring on their next two possessions.

Former Carolina Panther fan favorite Mike Minter remains as head coach for the Camels. Minter is in his eighth year and has a 36-44 record. After going 3-9 in his first year, Minter has backed that up with five win seasons from 2014-2016 and six win seasons in each of the last three campaigns. In 2018, Campbell moved from the Pioneer League to the Big South and maintained their record. It seems Minter has what it takes and could be in line for another job if his heart so desires. These opportunities for the schools that are playing college football while others are not sure puts the spotlight on G5 and FCS teams that normally are relegated to being streamed. Every game that Campbell has played, or are scheduled to play, is on the road in 2020. At this point, it is unlikely that they are road-weary, but they are operating with fewer scholarships, and have been outscored in both games in the second half, by a 43-25 combined total.

The heart of the Campbell offense lies in the hands of Hajj-Malik Williams, their quarterback and leading rusher. Williams has 374 yards passing on the season, completing 56% of his attempts with 2 touchdown passes and one interception. His 178 yards gained rushing excludes the 43 yards he has lost on the ground, which comes to a sum of 135 yards net. Behind Williams is CJ Freeman with 120 yards across two games on 6.0 yards per carry. Bryant Barr has 83 yards on the ground to go along with two touchdowns. However, it is mainly the Hajj-Malik show. He was sharper against Southern than Coastal, where he was sacked five times to go with his twenty-five drop backs. Getting sacked one out of every six drop backs is not ideal. Tight end Julian Hill has caught five passes for 89 yards while Jalen Kelsey has snagged a team leading nine receptions for 98 yards.

Losing is one thing. Losing and scoring seven points is another. Although the Marshall game was not decided until late in the second half, there were some signs that it was over much earlier. Shockingly, App State just could not get the running game going, and there was another day of split carries between the backs. Perhaps in a tough game like the last one, it would be beneficial for one back to get the ball more often, but the late scratch of Marcus Williams Jr may have sent the coaches scrambling. Either way, there were not many open spaces to run to or through. Defensively the Mountaineers were kept in the game by the efforts of Trey Cobb who contributed on fourteen tackles. Kaiden Smith added ten tackles and D’marco Jackson added eight. As a unit, the Mountaineers broke up eight passes, which leads the country in that category, along with allowing opposing quarterbacks to complete just 40% of their passes.

Predicting a game with such a large spread can sometimes be quite easy, and other times it can be difficult. Campbell is not a true replacement for Morgan State. It might appear that way on paper, but it really is not the case. It’s quite possible that Hajj-Malik Williams is the best quarterback App State will play to date. Williams is a decent passer, but App State has deployed one of the best defensive backfields in the country in the seasons first two weeks. Similar to last weekend, App State will face a an offensive line with some experience and looks the part. One would think that Campbell would try and shorten this game and really try to lean on the Mountaineers defense. That serves multiple purposes, as in staying away from a secondary that has been super stingy and trying to copy a strategy of the Mountaineers previous opponents. Campbell may decide to take its chances on third down and limit mistakes. Whatever happens when Campbell has the ball, the App State offense needs to sharpen their craft and really focus on the little things that make them successful. The distractions have surely been plentiful and the weekly ins and outs of being tested and not having a normal college experience are depressing, but we are all going through it in some way or fashion. The Mountaineers will get one more game in an empty stadium, hopefully, before some spectators are allowed back to Kidd Brewer. In the mean time, the home team wins this one, but not as convincingly as they would probably like.

The First Pick

Humps 17

Mountaineers 41

Appalachian Football vs Gardner Webb

Appalachian State (1-1, 0-0 Sun Belt) vs Gardner Webb (1-2, 0-0 Big South)

Saturday, September 22nd, 2018 3:30pm est

TV/Video: ESPN+

Radio: WKBC 97.3 Wilkesboro, Charlotte, Winston Salem, Hickory & High Country; WATA 1450 Boone, Blowing Rock; WGVZ ESPN 730 Charlotte, Rock Hill, Salisbury; WCOG 1320 Winston-Salem, Greensboro; WCMC 99.3 Raleigh, Durham, Chapel Hill; WZGM 1350 Black Mountain, Asheville; WDNC 620 Durham, Raleigh; WHKP 1450, WHKP 107.7 Hendersonville; WAZZ 1490, WAZZ 94.3 Fayetteville; WPWT 870 AM, 100.7 FM Bristol/Johnson City, TN

Kidd Brewer Stadium 

Surface: Fieldturf

Capacity: 30,000

Jeff Sagarin Ratings

App State: 75.86

Gardner Webb: 30.45

Home: 2.67

App State is favored by the Sagarin ratings by 48 points (rounded)

Sportsbook: NL

Series: App State leads 7-0

Last meeting: App State 45, Gardner Webb 7, October 6, 2007

WxCrum Forecast: Increasing Clouds, with chances of rain, Temps in the Mid 70’s

As a fan, dealing with a bye week is brutal enough. This past weekend was worse. Watching college football on television is usually fun, but when your team is not playing when they were scheduled to, just steps from your own doorstep? Just about as bad as it gets. Football fans have that every week routine. It begins on Monday with teleconferences and news articles, and progresses throughout the week with coaches shows and practice reports. Next thing you know, its Thursday, the day before you might travel to a game. And you do it over and over again. Week after week, the players, coaches, fans, journalists, equipment managers and everyone in between, embrace that grind. There are not many more magical times of the year than football season. September without a football game is like Easter without eggs, Christmas with no ham, and Kool-Aid without sugar. It just isn’t the same. Eventually we all move on, and the games return and its all forgotten, but it was a grim time for several days. Hopefully, when toe meets leather on Saturday afternoon, we’ll all be back in our happy place: the win column. 

The head coach of the Runnin’ Bulldogs is 1983 alum Carroll McCray, who is in his sixth season in Boiling Springs. Previously, McCray was in charge at Austin Peay from 2003-06. McCray spent his first four years in the coaching world under one Sparky Woods from 1983-87 in Boone, NC at App State. McCray carries a 38-77 all time record, and more recently is 22-38 at his alma mater. His lone winning season in his ten year head coaching career came in his first season at Gardner-Webb, where his team went 7-5. The Runnin’ Bulldogs play a tougher than usual schedule for a Big South squad. Besides their first two losses of the season coming to North Carolina A&T and Western Carolina, Gardner-Webb also faces off against 2017 FCS playoff participants Monmouth and Charleston Southern to close the season. Currently ranked in the top ten of the FCS polls, Wofford and Kennesaw State also loom on the horizon for Gardner-Webb.

Although it has been a short time since App State has been in FBS, it feels like ages ago. Watching film of Gardner-Webb and Western Carolina brought back a lot of memories. A smattering of fans, 2,257 “attended” the game, that was moved up one day to avoid Hurricane Florence. Gardner-Webb racked up 246 total yards of offense on 70 plays. For much of the game, these two teams didn’t seem like they were very far off in regards to talent, but the box score paints a different story. The Bulldogs gained 145 yards rushing, but also lost 48 yards on the ground. All in all, they gained 2.4 yards per rush on their forty attempts. 

No longer feeling sorry for Zac Thomas, the sophomore was perfect against UNC-Charlotte. No, seriously, he completed all fourteen of his passes, for 295 yards and three scores. Very tidy numbers. Two of his scores, to Corey Sutton and Dominique Heath were absolute dimes, right on the pylons. Thomas added twenty-nine yards on the ground and a rushing touchdown. His next incomplete pass will draw groans and boos from the crowd. Kidding aside, Thomas has exceeded expectations quickly, and fans are chomping at the bit to see what he can do next. 

Maybe the next thing that Zac Thomas will do is throw a pass to Corey Sutton and let him leave defenders sprawled out in his wake. Oh, sorry, that has already happened and we’ll probably see it again before too long. Thomas hit eight receivers against UNCC, with Sutton being the main beneficiary. Sutton’s catches went for 27, 38 and 90 yards. That gives him a decent slash line for two games at 9/242/2 on the season. Also benefiting is Malik Williams, who snagged three passes for 51 yards, including a big catch and run for 38 yards that set up App State’s third touchdown of the day in the 45-6 trouncing of the 49ers. 

There have been few murmurs of football the last two weeks with much of the focus being placed on hurricane relief. Sure, we stomped the mud a few times over the last several days over the assumed unwillingness of our last scheduled opponent’s desire to play the Mountaineers anywhere. It was an emotional time for all involved. But alas, here we are, with what seems like a second beginning to the football season. Gardner-Webb provides one final tuneup prior to hitting the conference slate for eight straight games. I want that twelfth game back as much as anyone, and we’ll get it back, and hopefully at home if we take care of what is ahead of us for the next two-plus months. Gardner-Webb’s roster is mostly homegrown and very young. Leading rusher Jayln Cagle is from Kannapolis. Leading receiver Kyle Horton played high school at Charlotte’s Mallard Creek. Four of their top six tacklers are also from North and South Carolina. Even their kickoff specialist is from Newland. This team will have something to prove, despite nearly two dozen freshman seeing game action this year. They have not had much offense to speak of, but they get up, wipe themselves off and continue to play. The effort is there, the execution, not so much. Gardner-Webb has not scored at all in the second half this year in either loss, and have just managed 16 points in their last 120 minutes of football. Additionally, the Runnin’ Bulldogs have never scored more than 17 points on Appalachian, while the Mountaineers have scored 30 or more in five straight games. By the time Saturday is over, it should be six in a row. 

The First Pick

Runnin’ on Fumes 10

Mountaineers 56

Men’s Basketball 82, Campbell 101

Pregame:

Appalachian (1-1) travels to Big South Opponent Campbell (1-1) in its first road game of the season. Last year, Appalachian slipped by the Camels at home in a close game, winning 77-74. The Mountaineers are coming off an ugly loss at home to High Point. The on court energy was non-existent against the Panthers, as High Point made a point to embarrass the Mountaineers. High Point was projected to finish in fourth place in Big South, while Campbell has been tabbed as the Big South favorite in their division.

Darren White and Trey Freeman are all conferfence selections for the Camels. White scored twenty or more points ten times last season while also hitting double digits in twenty-eight games. White was second on the team at 16.8 points per game. White began his college career at James Madison before transferring to Midland Junior College, where he played with Mountaineer guard Jamaal Trice. White recorded a double-double with 15 points and 12 rebounds in the Camels last outing against Northwestern State. Freeman led all Big South freshman in scoring at 13.9 points per game and was named the Big South Conference Freshman of the Year. Freeman also led the conference in foul shooting at 87%, which was also good enough for 26th nationally.

Darian Hooker is another Camel that the Mountaineers will need to keep a close eye one. Hooker led Campbell in scoring last year at 17.9 points per game. Hooker is deadly from three point range, shooting 46% from long distance last year, after shooting 38% during his freshman season.

Appalachian will need to rebound from its first loss of the season and simply put it behind them. The Mountaineers will need better games from their seniors. Nathan Healy and Jamaal Trice need to show some leadership and will this team to a better effort, at minimum. Jay Canty cannot do this all by himself. Another player is going to have to emerge as a second scoring threat before Mike Neal returns from suspension. Chris Burgess had a nice game against High Point, but is still very rough around the edges.

It does not appear we will get a spread for this game. Campbell only garnered two lines last year, in the massive BracketBuster event against Northwestern State and in the first game of their conference tournament against Winthrop. Both of those lines were a point or less and Campbell lost on the court and on the books in both games. Most certainly, we can begin our picks next week with East Carolina and Virginia Tech. I fully expect the Mountaineers to be double digit underdogs in both games.

Postgame:

Appalachian started the game with turnovers on its first three possessions and Campbell never looked back as they never trailed in the game. The story of the game was red hot shooting percentage from the Camels, who shot 66.7% from the field for the game. Essentially, that is making two of every three shots taken. The Camels ended the game with 42 made field goals, with twenty-six of those baskets being assisted. The Camels also enjoyed a 54-34 advantage in the paint and a 23-0 edge on fast breaks.

Darren White was magnificent for the Camels. White poured in a career high 36 points while snagging seven rebounds. Darian Hooker added 17 points and five assists while Reco McCarter added thirteen points for the Camels.

We talked about wanting to see more from the seniors and they responded. Nathan Healy scored 18 points on 7/9 shooting including two three pointers while grabbing six rebounds. Jamaal Trice scored 14 points off the bench, but did manage to play 36 minutes in the game. Trice added seven assists, but the rest of the Mountaineers could only manage seven assists. Tevin Baskin also came off the bench to play 28 minutes and scored 18 points and added seven rebounds. Tab Hamilton quietly scored 18 points himself, hitting a trio of three pointers.

Adding to the Campbell’s hot shooting, Appalachian played poor defense in transition and in the half court. That is evidenced by the Camels scoring over half of their points in the paint. The Mountaineers have no true inside presence, so we may see more of that in the future. Michael Obacha has been thrown in the fire it will take him some time. It is not Obacha’s fault though. Brian Okam seems to get in his own way more than anything. Okam did not see the floor against Campbell. Chris Burgess came back down to earth after his best performance of the season against High Point. Burgess played 23 minutes, turning the ball over five times and only recording one assist and scoring two points. Burgess and the Mountaineers must get into an offense that requires more passing of the ball, and working as a team, rather than a dribbling contest. On a couple occasions, Burgess left his feet as a passer, and that does not work in the college game when you are only 5’8″.

Appalachian has now begun its season with two double digit lopsided losses to Big South teams. The Mountaineers only win is over a NAIA Montreat. At this rate, it may be a while before Appalachian records its first Division I win of the season. It appears this entire season will come down to the SoCon Tourney in March. The Mountaineers will have to be playing their best basketball of the season at that point.

#24 Appalachian State Baseball (37-12, 20-7 SoCon) vs Gardner-Webb (28-25, 10-11 Big South)

First time in school history.

It has been a common theme for Appalachian State baseball this season. There have been so many instances, it is hard to cover them all. However, Appalachian added another school first to its resume this weekend. Appalachian comes into the final week of the regular season ranked 24th by Baseball America, which only ranks twenty five teams compared to other news outlets who rank thirty teams. The honor comes on the heels of winning its fourth series in a row, and second in a row on the road in conference play. Last weekend’s opponent, Samford, had a chance to win the conference going into the series, but Appalachian squashed those hopes with a 9-7 win on Sunday.

Gardner-Webb will be a different opponent for Appalachian on Tuesday. The Runnin’ Bulldogs are only 6-10 on the road this season, with wins over Wofford, North Carolina, Liberty, Charleston Southern, UAB and Prebyterian. The Bulldogs are 0-2 this season when playing a road game following a road win. Gardner-Webb will also be without the services of starting pitcher Andrew Barnett, who got the start against Appalachian earlier this season. Barnett did not get the win, but kept Appalachian guessing and struck out eight batter in 6.1 innings. Barnett was the starter for Gardner-Webb on Friday evening’s loss to Presbyterian. It’s a possibility that we see Matt Fraudin (1-5, 3.84) who has ten starts on the season. It also possible we see Brock Wilson (4-2, 3.37) who has started six games this year. Fraudin started on Saturday but only threw 44 pitches before being lifted. Wilson has only surrendered one home run in 34.2 innings of work and opponents bat .211 against him.

ASU Fr. LHP Jeffrey Springs (1-0, 4.82 ERA) vs. GWU Jr. RHP Brock Wilson (4-2, 3.37 ERA)

In somewhat of a surprising move, Chris Pollard handed the ball to freshman southpaw Jeffrey Springs against Gardner-Webb. It was Springs’ ninth apperance of the season and his first start since facing South Carolina on the road – 61 days ago. It was announced before the game that Springs would only throw about 50 pitches and his rust was apparent early on. Springs hit two batters, walked two and allowed a run and three hits in his three innings of work. Following Springs, seven other Mountaineer pitchers were needed to finish the game, including solid performances from Jordan Jessup (2 IP, 1 R, 1 H, 4 K), Jamie Nunn (0.2 IP, 2 K) and Nathan Hyatt ( 1 IP, K, S), who tied a school record with his 13th save of the season.

Only five Mountaineers recorded hits on the evening with Tyler Zupcic leading the charge with three hits. Zupcic scored twice and raised his season average to .344. Brandon Burris started in right field as Tyler Tewell was behind the plate giving Jeremy Dowdy a much needed rest. Burris drove in two runs on one hit, and made a fantastic diving catch in right center field to keep a run off the board for Gardner Webb. Daniel Kassouf added a sacrifice fly and Preston Troutman also drove in a run and was walked once.

Appalachian has the chance to reach the forty win mark this weekend, (Thurs-Sat) with a series against Western Carolina. Appalachian’s magic number is two to win the conference title. Any combination of two Mountaineer wins of Charleston losses secures the championship and the first overall seed in the conference tournament. The difference between the first and second seed is massive. First seed would potentially play at 5pm on the first day of the tournament compared to 10am for the second seed, depending on where Furman finishes. Furman is the host institution and game times may be adjusted to allow the Paladins to play the 5pm game as long as it stays in the winners bracket.

Southern Conference Tournament Bracket