Appalachian Football @ Massachusetts

Appalachian State (5-2, 4-0 Sun Belt) vs Massachusetts (1-6, FBS Independent)

Saturday, October 28th, 2017 3:30pm est

TV/Video: NESN/Eleven Sports

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

McGuirk Alumni Stadium

Surface: FieldTurf

Capacity: 17,000

Jeff Sagarin Ratings

App State: 64.23

UMass: 53.34

Home: 2.18

App State is favored by the Sagarin ratings by 9 points (rounded)

Sportsbook: App State -4.5

Series: App State leads 1-0

Last meeting: App State 28, UMass 17, December 15th, 2006

          The Chanticleers weren’t quitters. They fought hard in a game where they were basically outmatched. After falling in a 14-0 hole, they easily could have rolled over, taken their beating and strutted their way back toward the low country. Not only did they own the second quarter on the way to a halftime lead, they made an ugly score look respectable late in the game. Both teams left points on the field, and for Appalachian, that has become a novel normal. Whether it’s missed field goals or inexplicably attempting a two point conversion, eventually the Mountaineers will suffer from one of these gaffes. Might not be this week, this season, or next, but we as fans must take the good with the bad and trust the work that goes on behind the scenes. Those that work hard every day want to fix it as much as we want it fixed. This weekend presents a different challenge. The Apps step out of conference play and accept a summons from an old friend from a decade ago. A friend without a conference, without a real bowl tie-in and without a true rival they play yearly. The last time these two played, there was quite a bit more at stake, but even then, UMass was the challenger, as they will also be considered on Saturday. They have nothing to lose,, while the Mountaineers need to keep the train on the tracks. 

          Massachusetts sports a similar look as Coastal Carolina when you glance at their schedule. Sure, Coastal had a couple games where they got beat pretty badly, but the Minutemen have had zero such games. Of their six losses, four were by one possession and two were by ten points. They can hang around. Forget their loss to Coastal Carolina in early September, which seems like ages ago. Every team has a different slant now, especially Appalachian.

          The Minutemen have the complexion of some teams that Appalachian has lost to in the past. Look no further than early playoff exits at hands of Villanova and Maine. Now this is not a lazy comparison of teams from the northeastern part of the country that play a different brand of football. Typically, the speed isn’t there, but the size is definitely present. They will not sneak up on you, but they will line up right across from you and force their will. UMass has a 270 pound fullback and a starting offensive line that averages 324 pounds and has only one lineman in the two-deep listed at 6’3″ or shorter. Add to that three tight ends listed at 6’5″ and 250 pounds. Prior to last weekend, this mammoth line had just three 100-yard rushing games to their credit, but exploded for 320 yards last week over Georgia Southern. The flipside of being so big on the line, the Minutemen have given up 32 sacks in seven games. 

         Massachusetts has played from behind a lot this season, which has actually helped them constantly work on their passing game. But, in the same breathe, they have been very successful in doing so. Typically a team that plays from behind a lot, you’ll see a lot of interceptions thrown. Not with the Minutemen. Their 16 touchdown passes to only two interceptions is pretty astonishing. They like to feed their tight ends who’ll occupy the middle of the field, a spot where App struggled last week to contain Coastal Carolina. They are about as dangerous as an offense can be, they just do not have the results and the confidence to show for it. 

          Just about every time Taylor Lamb has had a rough game, he responds with an excellent performance and silences the haters. Over the years, Lamb has not received the credit he deserves, as a lot of that gone the way of the defense that backs him up or to his great running backs he has been blessed with. When he was younger, he had to develop chemistry with older receivers, and now that he is the old guy, he’s had to adjust to connecting with younger targets. Lamb is just a baller, plain and simple. If he is called to run, thats what he’ll do. If his arm is needed to save the day, he’s ready for that as well. He was seven yards away from breaking two records set by Armanti Edwards in the same game. Who saw that coming so quickly?

          UMass had three weeks to prepare for the beatdown they gave to Georgia Southern last weekend. That is very rare to have that much time between games.  They were originally slated to face South Florida, but the game was rescheduled at the request of the American Athletic Conference in the wake of Hurricane Irma. That’s what can happen to you when you do not have a conference. So, UMass gets a mid season break and adds a game at the end of the season with FIU. Generally, I like playing teams that have recently come off of a big game, whether that be their first win of the season, running up a bunch of yards, scoring a bunch of points or being the beneficiary of several turnovers. UMass did all of those things last weekend. They’ll be facing a different kind of team this weekend. Georgia Southern’s struggles have been well documented, and plenty of things were going on off the football field as opposed to on it. App State has had its struggles this season, but for the most part, have overcome for them.. The Mountaineers have shown this season their ability to keep their head down, keep battling, by making adjustments and sticking with the plan. UMass will attempt to confuse the App State running game by stacking the linebackers in the gaps, and it ill be up to App to get to the perimeter as quick as possible. A game played outside the hashes will favor Appalachian. Keep an eye on Marcus Williams Jr with a full week  of practice under his belt if Jalin Moore can’t play. Hell give UMass a look they haven’t seen yet. 

The First Pick

Colonials 28

Mountaineers 40

Men’s Basketball hosts Hampton

Last time out, Appalachian pulled the quietest upset in its recent basketball history with a slim victory over Virginia Tech. While most of the Mountaineer fans were glued to football game with Lafayette, Appalachian was outhustling the Hokies. Appalachian dominated on both ends of the glass, holding a 19-8 advantage of the offensive end and a 42-27 edge on the defensive glass.

Frank Eaves hit the game-winning jumper with one second on the clock after Virginia Tech could only manage to tie the game on the free throw line with ten seconds to play. The Hokies hit the first free throw to tie the game, but were called for a lane violation on the second attempt, which set up Eaves and his game winner.

We were a little bit too busy preparing for football festivities to check the line and eventually make a pick. Needless to say, Virginia Tech was favored in this game and the Mountaineers covered easily. That puts the Mountaineers at 1-2 against the spread this season, while our picks remain at 1-1 after “failing” to make a pick. Likely we would have taken Virginia Tech, and would have missed.

After getting his first win of his career on the road, Jim Fox and his Mountaineers will open the home slate of the schedule tonight against Hampton. The MEAC school is 1-3 on the year with a win over Alcorn State, and losses that include Syracuse, Iowa and North Dakota State.

Currently there is no line for the game, as is often the case when low-major opponents are involved. In the event that the bookies post one closer to gametime, you can catch the pick at my twitter account, @bigcasu

Men’s Basketball 71 Milligan 51


This afternoon’s game will be the final tune up of the season for the Mountaineers when they take on Milligan. From here on out, seventeen conference games will prepare Appalachian for the conference tournament. In the meantime, Millgan brings in a team that is over halfway through their season, with eight wins and seven losses. Milligan’s schedule consists of bunch of schools you have never heard of. Their Division I slate includes Liberty, and East Tennessee State, both which were lopsided losses. Montreat is the only common opponent as Milligan was able to win by by eleven points at home, while the Mountaineers claimed a thirty point win in their season opening exhibition game.

Appalachian should win this game easily, but don’t be surprised if Milligan keeps it close. Milligan held off Appalachian for a good portion of the game last year before falling by 23 points on Thanksgiving weekend. Milligan is a team that loves the three pointer and will take the shot when its there. Four players on their roster have hit twelve three pointers or more, with sixth man Scott Blake hitting 28 threes despite only averaging 16 minutes a game.

There is no spread for this game.


Appalachian opened up an eleven point halftime lead and eventually cruised pasts Milligan by twenty points. It was an uneasy win as Appalachian shot poorly in all aspects of the game. Chalk it up to the midseason blues if you want, but this was a game that was ugly to watch. Appalachian managed only 38% shooting for the game. Even worse, the Mountaineers were under 50% from the free throw line.

Somehow, Nathan Healy pulled in a massive double-double with 17 points and 15 rebounds. Jay Canty had a thumb taped up and that forced him to struggle shooting the ball, missing all six free throw attempts. In an odd twist, Mike Neal managed to get disciplined to only play seven minutes. Because of this, it’s time for some soapbox. It was later learned that Neal was late for a morning practice on gameday. So Neal, who missed nine games due to academic issues in the classroom, during his incredibly challenging freshman year of classes, has now been late to a team meeting. When is he going to understand the team means more than himself. At what point does he understand what his basketball scholarship means? It is obviously the only thing keeping him in school, considering his situation. (Hopping off the soapbox.) 



Women’s Basketball 85 ETSU 57

Appalachian continues its non-conference schedule for their first game of the season while school is on break as they travel to long time rival East Tennessee State. The Mountaineers (6-1) are looking for the sixth straight win since dropping their road opener at Virginia Tech by three points. Appalachian has won three straight games in the series, most recently a twenty-four point win last season in Boone.

East Tennessee State (2-3) owns wins over Morehead State and Memphis, while they have lost by double digits in all of their three losses. Most recently, the Bucs lost to Louisiana State by thirty four points, and to Chattanooga by thirty three points. The Bucs have only made fifteen three pointers in their five games, while giving up 5.8 three pointers to their opponents. The Bucs do a really good job on the offensive glass, averaging seventeen offensive caroms a game. The Bucs are sloppy though, giving up 22 turnovers a game, which holds them to 61.2 points per game.

Appalachian has been on an extended break, not playing since a December 3rd win over conference opponent Georgia Southern. Appalachian held the Eagles to 43 points, in what could be considered their best defensive performance of the season. Appalachian forced 24 turnovers while only allowing sixteen made field goals. Georgia Southern was 1/21 from behind the arc.

Anna Freeman is eight points away from scoring her 1,500th point. Freeman leads the team with 21 points and 7.9 rebounds per game. Playing a strong second fiddle is senior guard Courtney Freeman who graduated over the weekend. Courtney is averaging 18.6 points and 6.6 rebounds per game, good enough for second on the team in both categories. Maryah Sydnor is scoring 10.6 points per game after a slow start to the season. Sydnor is also grabbing 5.9 rebounds a game, good enough for third on the team in both major categories. As a team, Appalachian is outscoring their opponents by almost twenty points per game.

Update: Raven Gary will not play tonight.


Appalachian shook off a sluggish first half on defense to run away with a 85-57 win on the road at East Tennesee State. Appalachian led by four points at the break after leading by as many as 13 points in the first hald before allowing the Bucs to climb back into the game before halftime.

The second half was tight for the first seven minutes, and saw ETSU take their first lead of the game with 12:59 to play in the second half. That is where the game changed drastically. The lead ETSU took was their last of the game, and the field goal that put them on top was also their last made basket of the game. Yes, ETSU basically went the last thirteen minutes of the game without a bucket. From that point, Appalachian went on a 36-7 run to end the game. Appalachian scored nine points in the first seven minutes of the second half, but averaged 2.7 points per minute in the final third of the game.

The top free throw shooting team in the country, Appalachian improved that number hitting 18 of their 19 attempts, with the only miss, ironically, coming from the team’s best free throw shooter in Anna Freeman. Maryah Sydnor led all scorers with 23 points. Courtney Freeman finished with a monster double-double with 16 points and 14 rebounds. Katie Mallow chipped in with 16 points. Anna Freeman was plagued with foul trouble and only played twenty-five minutes, but still managed 13 points, 8 rebounds, 8 assists and 4 steals. The Mountaineers move to 7-1 on the season and will play at West Virginia on Friday evening.

C-Note: Anna Freeman scored her 1,500th point of her career and moved into fourth place on the all time scoring list. She is on pace to eclipse 2,000 points sometime in the SoCon tournament.


#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