Samford @ Appalachian Football

Here we go with Week 6:

#23 Samford (4-2, 2-0) @ Appalachian State (1-4, 1-1)

Time: 3:30 pm


Radio: WKBC 97.3 Wilkesboro, Charlotte, Winston Salem, Hickory & High Country; WATA 1450 Boone, Blowing Rock; WCOG 1320 Winston-Salem, Greensboro; WMFR 1230 High Point, Greensboro; WSML 1200, Burlington, Greensboro; WCMC 99.3 Raleigh, Durham, Chapel Hill; WZGM 1350 Black Mountain, Asheville; WTOE 1470 Spruce Pine; WPWT 870 Bristol, Johnston City; WZGV 730 Charlotte, Rock Hill, Salisbury; WDNC 620 Durham, Raleigh; WHKP 1450 Hendersonville; WAZZ 1490 Fayetteville; WLON 1050 Lincolnton

Kidd Brewer Stadium

Surface: Field Turf

Capacity: 24,050

Jeff Sagarin Ratings: 

App State: 49.21

Samford: 57.39

Home: 4.04

Samford is favored by the Sagarin ratings by 4 points (rounded).

Series: Appalachian leads 6-1

Last Meeting: Appalachian 28, Samford 25, October 13, 2012, Birmingham

WXAPP’s Boone Gameday Weather Trends:

Partly cloudy skies with mostly sunny skies possible. Dry. Temps in the mid 60’s for most of the game. Great weather expected.

            The same results are beginning to become more annoying with each passing week. The Mountaineers may be getting closer to the desired result, but the pain of getting to that moment is also becoming more excruciating. A third game in a four week span was decided by three points. This time, an overtime period was played after Appalachian was in a calm control of the game in the first half. The Mountaineers were looking good, with a 14-7 lead in the late stages of the first half. Appalachian was to receive the second half kickoff. The Mountaineers had plenty of time to work a drive, kill some clock and at minimum, put the Citadel in a position where they were not going to possess the ball with the likelihood of scoring. After two plays, Kam Bryant fumbles deep on the Mountaineer side of the fifty yard line, and gives the Citadel prime real estate and clock in which to score. The Citadel tied it at half, and got themselves back in control of the game on the backs of another costly Mountaineer mistake. To open the second half, Appalachian punished The Citadel, lining up for a total of thirteen plays on offense, but the drive amounted to zero points. Two plays later, The Citadel was in the end zone again, this time with a seven point lead. Take away that fumble, and this game ends differently. It was a game changer. Appalachian could have gone up two or three scores before giving the ball back to the Bulldogs in the third quarter, but instead, turned it over once by fumbling and a second time on downs. It was a near identical script to North Carolina A&T, which was a product of not getting in the end zone enough on offense, which kept the Mountaineers from being winners.

            The Mountaineers took a step forward against The Citadel, when Scott Satterfield went with sophomore Kam Bryant to start the game. That was the right decision that should have been made a couple games before. It has to be incredibly tough to tell your senior quarterback that he will not be getting the ball to start the game. Jamal Londry-Jackson should be familiar with this script. He was on the other end of it two seasons ago, when he took over for a senior in De’Andre Presley who had lost his confidence and gained a fear of being subjected to defenses who could do what they wished to a below average Mountaineer offensive line. Appalachian is in the business of winning football games, and right now, the best man to lead this team is Kam Bryant. An occasional Bryant fumble, or interception, will not be welcomed, but it will be tolerated in the learning process. Bryant needs to make the strides now to be better situated for the years to come.

            Take away the fumble at the end of the first half, and the interception in overtime in which he was trying to make a play, Kam Bryant played just about as well as you could imagine in his first college start. Bryant completed 19 of his 23 pass attempts and moved the ball well enough when he decided to run. Bryant has now completed 72% of his passes on the season for 900 yards and six touchdowns. Bryant will start again this weekend, and outside of an injury or terribly bad game, should play every series in our minds. Too much pressure can be placed on quarterbacks if they believe any mistake could cost them playing time. It’s better to make the mistake and correct it quickly on the next drive. Otherwise, that fumble, or bad throw will always haunt you.  

            Marcus Cox continued to Marcus Cox things on the football field last weekend. Once again, he was dangerously close to century mark in both rushing and receiving yards, coming up a total of 7 yards shorts over the two categories. Cox led the team with seven receptions and scored two touchdowns on the ground on a total of twenty six touches. He averaged 7.4 yards per touch. Cox now has 813 total yards on the season and ten total touchdowns.  

            In the past, Samford has typically been a tough team to play. Even though the Mountaineers have not lost to Samford in SoCon play, very few games have been easy. Last year the Mountaineers needed a late score to prevail. The games in 2010 and 2011 included final scored that were both 35-17. Samford hung around in 2009 for a 20-7 setback during a game that was dominated by the rain. In the years, that Appalachian had some great offenses in the last half decade, Samford never once allowed more than 35 points to the Mountaineers, but did give up 35 points on three occasions. Samford entered the Sports Network Top 25 this week for the first time since last season, which was also the same week before they played the Mountaineers.

             Samford returns a lot of their same weapons from a year ago. Fabian Truss the leading running back who carried a heavy workload in the early part of the season. Truss has carried 102 times on the season, but only 34 times in the last three games. Last weekend against Georgia Southern, Truss had his best game of the season, with 125 yards and two touchdowns on only 14 carries. The Mountaineers kept Truss in check last season, giving up only 46 yards on 18 carries. Quarterback Andy Summerlin has thrown for 1300 yards and ten touchdowns in last three games alone. Prior to this three week stretch, Summerlin had not gone over 200 yards passing in the season’s first three games. Samford has found more offense and better results with Summerlin throwing the ball more, which is somewhat out of character for a Samford team that has preferred a run heavy offense. Kelsey Pope has also been tearing it up the last three weeks. Pope leads the team with twenty-five catches on the season, with fifteen coming in the last three games. Of his 441 receiving yards on the season, nearly 88% of them (384) have come in the last three games.

            Seeing Samford sitting atop of the SoCon standings is weird looking to say the least. Their two conference wins were both at home, a blowout win over Western Carolina and a ten point win over Georgia Southern. The Samford offense has been noticeable more potent in the last three games than the seasons first three games. The difference has been the Bulldogs playing at home. Although the difference in playing at home resulted in only one more win on the schedule, it did result in 20 more points scored per game. Scoring six to eight points more at home is a big deal. Twenty is insane. A lot these points have come via the big play, something Appalachian has struggled with all season long. Five touchdowns against Western Carolina came on plays of 25 yards or longer. Against Georgia Southern, the Bulldogs produced three touchdown passes over 50 yards. Two more touchdown passes against SE Louisiana were over forty yards. The point is clear. The Mountaineers have to avoid the big play. Appalachian has done well to avoid the big pass play this season, but that is because other teams have not had the need to pass on Appalachian to move the ball. This will be a big test for Appalachian as the weather is expected ideal for throwing conditions this weekend. The Mountaineers may benefit from Samford experiencing much cooler weather during the game as a colder, harder football is not as easy to catch. Appalachian ran the ball well last week at times, but a bigger commitment to the run is needed to keep Samford off the field. Samford gives up over 200 yards a game on the ground and 4.5 yards per attempt to opposing teams. Appalachian needs to make that commitment to give Bryant the throwing lanes he needs. If the Mountaineers fall behind by a big margin early, it could be serious trouble. The best chance the Mountaineers have of winning this game is feeding Marcus Cox and others in the running game by making the Samford defense chase.

The First Pick:

More Bulldogs            24

Mountaineers              25

Samford buzzer-beats Appalachian…again

Samford’s Jazmine Martin nailed a three pointer with three tenths of a second on the clock to beat Appalachian on Monday night in Boone. It was second time this season that Appalachian had lost to the Bulldogs on a last second shot. In both instances, Appalachian connected on their final possession to tie the game. In the game from earlier this season, Samford hit a running layup, and this time around, Martin’s three pointer came from the baseline and rattled in.

The game began in an odd fashion, with one official calling in sick just moments before tip-off as the game started with two officials. The two officials who began the game went on to call three seconds in the lane on both teams in the first half. They also called twelve fouls on Appalachian while only calling six on Samford in the first half. Samford would knock down eleven of their twelve free throws in the first half. In the second half, the foul totals were equally inconsistent, as Samford was whistled for five fouls while Appalachian was called for ten. Samford would hit eleven of thirteen free throws in the second half. So, for the game, Appalachian was called for twice as many fouls, that led to Samford shooting ten more free throws, and scoring thirteen more points than Appalachian on the line for the game. Over a third of the Samford points (22 of 63) came on the foul line.

The result keeps Appalachian solidly as the fourth seed in the SoCon Tourney, but also caps off an unspectacular 13-7 conference record. The fourth seed still provides Appalachian a bye, and will face off against Charleston on Saturday at 2:15pm at Kimmel Arena on the campus of UNC-Asheville.


Men’s Basketball edges Samford in 2OT’s

The game between Appalachian and Samford on Thursday night in the Holmes Dome is about as big of a game that Appalachian will play this season. Elon has already wrapped up the North division crown, while Samford, Appalachian and Western Carolina will fight it out for the fourth overall seed for the SoCon tourney. Western and Appalachian play the same teams in reverse order in Samford and Chattanooga both at home, while Samford is on the road for both games. Whichever team can go 2-0 this weekend will win that fourth seed most likely, but is extremely possible that this thing gets real weird and we head to break this tie on some ridiculous rule the SoCon invented.

Samford 9-7 .563 6-3 3-4 0-0 W1 11-18 .379 7-6 4-10 0-2 W1
Appalachian State 8-8 .500 5-2 3-6 0-0 L1 12-15 .444 8-4 4-11 0-0 L1
Western Carolina 8-8 .500 3-4 5-4 0-0 L2 12-17 .414 6-5 5-11 1-1 W1

If Appalachian can go 2-0, that puts them at 10-8, and Samford could finish 10-8 at best, by beating Western, who would finish 9-7 in this scenario. Tiebreaker would go to Appalachian for beating second seeded Elon once.

If Appalachian can go 2-0, Samford goes 0-2, and Western goes 2-0, which would tie Appalachian and Western, the tiebreaker would go to Appalachian, once again for beating Elon once.

Appalachian could go 1-1 and still get the fourth seed, but it starts and begins with beating Samford. Without beating Samford, Appalachian’s seed will be out of their control.

Just for fun, if Western and Samford tie at 10-8, the tiebreaker would go to Samford for beating Charleston once.

Can the Mountaineers beat Samford. Of course, if they play to their best game and to their potential. In the first matchup, Samford played lights outs, hitting all the shots they needed to hit, quieting every Mountaineer run. The Bulldogs shot 55% from the field and 47% from three point land. Any time a shoots that well, it is going to be tough sledding beating them on the road, seven hours from your campus.

The early line is 3.5 points, favoring the Mountaineers. As has happened all year long, the line will move. Appalachian has covered in every game against North Division opponents at home this year, but has struggled recently against the South. Samford has covered the spread in twelve of its last fourteen games, with the other two games resulting in pushes. That is an incredible stretch that has to come to an end soon. We will watch the line and make our pick tomorrow.


In order to remain in contention for the bye, Appalachian did what it needed to do, even if it took them ten extra minutes. The Mountaineers led the entire first half, at one point by as many as twelve points, but as has been the case all season, Appalachian would relinquich that lead. After trailing by twelve points in the first half, Samford went on a long run that lasted close to twenty minutes of game time that put them ahead by eight points with 4:08 to play in the game. During that stretch, Samford outscored the Mountaineers 39-19.

When Samford grabbed their largest lead of the game with 4:08 to play in the second half, at 59-51, it was the last points they would score in regulation. Appalachian went on a 8-0 run themselves. Jamaal Trice scored five of his team leading 18 points during that stretch.

The first overtime period was an awful five minutes of basketball to watch. The two teams combined to shoot 1/9 in the period, with Appalachian’s two points coming on the free throw line by the most unlikely of players in Michael Obacha. The second overtime saw Appalachian score nine points in the first three minutes, and held on to win down the stretch as Samford failed to score in the final 2:18 of the game.

Appalchian improves its record against the spread to 14-9, which is our record as well. Saturday could bring about an interesting number consider the nature of how the first game between Appalachian and Chattanooga went down. Appalachian will be in a situation where they can win the game and secure the fourth seed and final bye heading into the SoCon tournament.


Women’s Basketball 64 Samford 66

When Appalachian and Samford play on Monday Night, plenty will be on the line. The loser will have their third or fourth loss in conference play, and will have an extremely uphill battle if they plan on winning the conference battle. Samford has ended Appalachian’s conference tournament the last three years. The Bulldogs use a Princeton-style offense by shooting a lot of three pointers and spreading the ball out. They strive on hitting those three pointers and getting long rebounds. It does help Appalachian that their last opponent Chattanooga loves the three point shot as well, so despite the loss, it was good practice for Appalachian.

Samford is 9-9 on the season and has been known for their defensive prowess. They have  only allowed 52.6 points per game. Samford had a season long streak of four games allowing under 50 points snapped after playing Davidson and Chattanooga, who 63 and 66 points respectively. In two games this season, they gave up less than thirty points. Samford is 6-2 at home this season, while all of Appalachian’s four losses this season have come on the road. Samford is led by Jazmine Martin and her 10.6 points per game. Hannah Dawson averages 7.1 rebounds per game, and 6.8 points per contest. Shelby Campbell scores 9.3 points per game. Six Samford starters have hit 14 or more three pointers on the season.

Anna Freeman continues to lead the Mountaineers in scoring (17.1) and rebounding (8.6). Anna also leads the team in blocks, steals and assists. Maryah Sydnor’s strong play of late has edged her ahead as the team’s second leading scorer at 14.8 points per game while she also adds 6.8 rebounds per game. Courtney Freeman rounds out the double digit scorers with 14.1 per game.


Appalachian dropped its second straight game in a row on the road as Samford hit a driving layup as time expired to propel the Bulldogs to a 66-64 win. Maryah Sydnor hit a long two point jumper with seven seconds remaining to tie the game at 64. Samford quickly inbounded and drove the length of the floor, beating the buzzer and giving the Bulldogs the win.

The first half was a mess as Appalachian trailed Samford by thirteen points, and only scoring twenty points in the first half. Samford was hitting their threes and knocking down their free throws, while Appalachian went without a three pointer for their third consecutive half. Samford recorded more assists in the first half than Appalachian did made field goals.

The second half was a different story, as the Mountaineers slowly began to trim away at the Samford lead. The Bulldogs went to a very conservative offensive approach, almost playing not to lose, and Appalachian dialed up the defensive pressure. The final stats will not tell the story of the game, as Appalachian made up ground in many categories. Appalachian eventually forced Samford into 27 turnovers and turned that into 31 points. The Mountaineers were also dominate in the paint, doubling up Samford 36-18. Appalachian made 23 field goals to the Samford’s seventeen. The difference however was on the free throw line. Twenty-five of Samford’s 66 points came on the free throw line, while Appalachian only managed making 16/25 from the free throw line. Samford also hit seven three pointers to only two for the Mountaineers.

Appalachian has now fallen in a huge hole, as they do not control their own destiny to contend for a conference title. They are going to need some help down the stretch, and luckily seven of their final eleven games will be played at home, where they have yet to lose. The Mountaineers must find a rhythm, because they are not firing on all cylinders this season and have not been for awhile. I believe they could play with a little more agression on the offensive end and attack the basket. They should use their great team free throw shooting to their advantage and get to the line thirty times a game. Force the opponent to react to you instead of playing so passively. Elon comes to to Boone on Saturday, and this a great time for Appalachian to reassert themselves in all aspects of the game. Elon is not a pushover, and is actually ahead of the Mountaineers in the conference standings. This team needs to get its swagger back, yeah I said that, and just get back to having fun and playing the game.

Men’s Basketball 68 Samford 72

Samford and Appalachian were projected to finish tied for fourth in the SoCon by the media prior to the season. On Saturday afternoon, they will be playing for a share of first place. Samford has been especially hot of late, winning three in a row. Samford took care of Western Carolina on Thursday, after sweeping the Low-Country portion of the schedule on the road with wins over The Citadel and Charleston. Samford seems to be a team that plays up and down to its competition. Their win over The Citadel was a four point win, over a team that has now lost twelve straight games. Their victory over Charleston was a major upset as far as Southern Conference basketball is concerned. Samford lost their only SoCon game at home to Chattanooga, a team Appalachian dominated, but could not finish off down the stretch.

For the season, Samford has been outscored, outshot, outrebounded and overall, just plain outhustled by their opponents all season long. Similar to Wofford, they are led by a duo of underclassmen who have provided the bulk of their scoring. Raijon Kelly has scored in double figures in every game this season. The sophomore was named to the 2012 SoCon all-freshman team last season. Kelly has played thirty minutes or more in every game this season, but has been in a shooting slump of late. Kelly is shooting 42.4% from the floor this season, but has only made 12/40 (30%) his last three games. Kelly has been off after exploding for 27 points and six made three pointers, both season highs, against Chattanooga. Tim Williams is a freshman forward who comes in a 6’8″ and 210 pounds. Williams averages 14.4 points per game and 7.3 rebounds. Williams averages 5.5 field goals made per game. Samford features a rather short bench, as only six players have played in every game this season.

This a big game for Appalachian from a mental standpoint. Can the Mountaineers erase the nightmare that was the Chattanooga game? Even though Appalachian thoroughly dominated the Mocs for most of the game, those memories are all but forgotten. Appalachian has fared well in Alabama since Samford has joined the conference. In four games on the road, Appalachian is 3-1 at Samford, with three straight wins. Jason Capel is 3-1 all time against Samford, with the only loss coming last year in Boone in a one point game.

Five Mountaineers continue to average in double figures. The play of Tevin Baskin of late has been a big boost on both ends of the court. Mike Neal has been great since his return to the team, although Neal had a rough outing on Thursday against Chattanooga. If Tab Hamilton can continue to shoot well, this Appalachian team will be on the rise, and they can hopefully forget about “The Chatty Collapse”

The Mountaineers opened as 1.5 point favorite against Samford on Saturday morning, and since, the line has ballooned to 3; Appalachian still considered a favorite. This has been an interesting trend  this season. Appalachian has done well against the spread this season, and it has drawn the interest from gamblers. We have never seen a line move  as much as it has this season. In the past, maybe one or two games, sees a line move during the course of an entire season. Now, it is almost a guarantee that the line will move. We liked the Mountaineers this morning at 1.5, which means you are basically picking a winner.  Three points makes things a little more interesting. We are going to give Appalachian a small benefit of the doubt. They had a rough half hour on Thursday, but everything had been rosy for most of the month. We’ll stick behind Appalachian and the points today, but will gladly take a ATS loss and straight up win.


Samford used its best game of the season to edge by Appalachian 72-68 on Saturday evening. The Bulldogs ripped the nets all night long, en route to shooting 54.5% for the game. Every time Appalachian made a push, Samford would put up another clutch shot. Appalachian was fortunate to only be down five points at halftime after Samford shot 63% in the first half. Appalachian remained in the game with eight made free throws in the first half and five three pointers.

Appalachian had several chances in the second half to take the lead or tie the game. In all, there were eighteen opportunities the Mountaineers had in the second half, where they were down by one possession, three points or fewer, and either turned the ball over, missed free throws, dunks or layups. Six such times in the second half, the Mountaineers were in the same situation only down one point. The Mountaineers were 3/8 from the free throw line in the second half. Would have been nice to have one or two of those back, to at least make the game a little more in reach down the stretch. However, this game did not boil down to what Appalachian did not do, but more of what Samford did. They hit every shot they needed to, and took care of the basketball by only committing nine turnovers. In college basketball, if you turn the ball over less than ten times and shoot over 50% from the field, you are going to win a lot of basketball games. We can manage a loss like this. The other team played lights out, but the sting of Thursday and “The Chatty Collapse” are still fresh in the minds of Mountaineer fans.

The Mountaineers have now fallen short of the spread in two straight games, moving them to 10-2 on the year, and our picks are now 9-3. It appears the conference schedule has now evened out to an extent. Appalachian has now played all of its Northern division opponents once. Wins over Elon and Greensboro and losses to Chattanooga, Samford and Western Carolina. Their record stands at 2-3 in the North, and quite simply, 2-0 at home and 0-3 on the road. The Mountaineers really should be 4-2 in conference play, but they will have to steal another game down the stretch to contend in the North.

When you consider the SoCon changed the seeding rules for the conference tournament, finishing second in the division is not good enough anymore. The Mountaineers are now two games behind first place Samford. The race for the third and fourth seeds in the tournament will be interesting down the stretch. I wonder if the conference had the smarts to create an inter-division tiebreaker formula with an unbalanced schedule for those coveted third and fourth seeds.

Currently if the tourney started today, this is how the seeds would be distributed. Interesting that the reason the SoCon implemented the new seeding porcess was so teams in the South, namely Wofford, would not finish with a 12-6 league record and be relegated to playing in the first round of the tournament. And now, the plan has backfired and three North teams hold down the top four spots.

Davidson    6-1

Samford    5-1

W. Carolina   5-2

Elon   4-2


Appalachian Football @ Samford

Here we go with Week 7:

#13 Appalachian State (4-2, 2-1 4th) @ #25 Samford (5-1, 3-1 T2) 

Time: 3pm EST


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

Seibert Stadium         

Surface:  LSR Blade Synthetic Surface

Capacity: 6,700 

Jeff Sagarin Ratings: 

ASU: 60.82

SAM: 56.26

Home: 2.62 points

Appalachian is favored by the Sagarin ratings by 2 points (rounded).

Series: Appalachian leads 5-1

Last Meeting: Appalachian 35, Samford 17, October 22, 2011, Boone, NC

Accuweather Birmingham Gameday Weather Trends:

Pleasant with plenty of sun. Clear.

Kickoff: Temperatures in the lower 80’s

End of Game: Temperatures in the upper 70’s

            Getting a win over Elon is something Appalachian has been able to do in football since 1964, spanning seventeen games. Getting away from Elon and their built up frustration of continuing to lose to Appalachian has been tougher for the Mountaineers. It has been awhile since Appalachian has come away from an Elon game without some major injuries. In the past, it has been Armanti Edwards and DeAndre Presley who have fallen victim to Elon and their questionable tactics. Elon did their best last season to knock out Jamal Jackson, but he was not having any of that business. However, this week, Appalachian lost its starters at center and bandit linebacker for several weeks. For whatever reason, these acts have continued over multiple graduating classes and coaching staffs and perhaps it will be easiest for Appalachian to leave the Southern Conference than for Elon to discontinue their ways. So we can add Alex Acey and Deuce Robinson to the list that includes Doug Middleton, Rod Chisholm and others who have been lost for significant parts of the season. The focus now turns to a very game Samford squad who is looking to do the same thing that Elon has not done since it entered the conference: beat Appalachian in football. Samford has not been around as long, but have provided some interesting games in their short time in the SoCon. All four contests have been competitive into the second half, yet Appalachian has taken the victory in each game. The last two games have resulted in the same final score. This game is huge for both teams, as a loss would give either team their second conference loss and all but eliminate them from the conference title. Can Appalachian make it five straight wins over the Bulldogs?

            Last season, we underestimated Samford’s passing game tremendously. Now graduated quarterback Dustin Taliaferro threw for 253 yards in the losing effort, but made tremendous strides from his junior to senior year. Current senior quarterback Andy Summerlin, who transferred from Memphis, has similar yardage numbers to Jamal Jackson, but without the hype. Summerlin has connected on 64% of his passes this season and went over 300 yards passing last week for the first time this season. However the conservative Samford offense has held him to only six touchdown passes this season, compared to Samford’s fourteen team rushing touchdowns. Summerlin is responsible for two of those rushing touchdowns. Summerlin has completed 21 to 23 passes in each game this season, despite his attempts fluctuating from 27 to 49. One issue for Appalachian is that they have not played against Summerlin on the field, and have only seen him on film. Sometimes it can take a half of football to understand player’s tendencies before being able to adjust. Getting pressure will be key for Appalachian. Both of his tackles on the offensive line are sophomores. Summerlin is a bigger quarterback, standing at 6’4 and 225 pounds and has been sacked eight times in the last three games, compared to zero sacks in the first three games.

            Somehow, Fabian Truss is still at Samford and still has another year of eligibility after this season. He was mainly a kick returner in his early career, but has accumulated six 100-yard rushing performances up to this point in his junior season, while still leading the SoCon in kickoff returns. Three of those performances have happened this season, against Furman, Western Carolina, and The Citadel. Truss’ first 100-yard game occurred in 2010 against Appalachian, when he carried six times for 100 yards, which included a 74-yard touchdown run. Last season, Truss was held in check by the Mountaineers for 16 carries and 65 yards. Truss had run for consecutive 100-yard games going into last year’s game against Appalachian. Truss is averaging nearly thirty yards per kickoff return this season, but Appalachian booted all six of its kickoffs out of the end zone last week. Appalachian leads the conference with 22 touchbacks on 36 kickoffs. Once again, the more the Mountaineers keep the ball out of Truss’ hands, the better. Kickoff returns are huge momentum plays in football, and the fewer times a team can return a kickoff, the fewer times they can make plays.

            Samford’s receivers are a very experienced unit. Leading the charge is Kelsey Pope with 31 catches, 317 yards and two touchdowns. Riley Hawkins is equally explosive with his 18 receptions for 292 yards and four touchdowns. Hawkins is easily the red zone threat as three of his four touchdowns have been shorter passes (5,14,20), while he caught an 82-yard touchdown catch last week against The Citadel. Hawkins has also averaged a very impressive 14.3 yards per punt return. Chris Cephus also has caught 18 passes for 281 yards and is more of a big play threat with his catches going for 15.6 yards on average.

            Despite losing the time of possession battle and being outplayed for a good portion of the game last week, Appalachian prevailed with timely defensive turnovers and fourth quarter touchdowns to defeat Elon. The Mountaineers allowed big performances to Thomas Wilson who threw for 419 yards and Aaron Mellete, who caught all three of Wilson’s touchdown passes, along with ten other passes that went for a total of 237 yards. Mellete was big in every game he played against Appalachian, but most importantly, he will end his career having never beaten the Mountaineers. Scott Riddle kept the seat warm for you Aaron. However, the game’s biggest performer was Jamal Jackson. For the first time in his career, Jackson threw for over 300 yards and won the game. His previous two 300-yard performances were losses to East Carolina and Furman. It was the second time in his career Jackson had thrown for four touchdown passes in a game, with the previous occurrence happening last season at Elon. Once again though, Jackson threw his customary interception. Jackson ran for a career high 94 yards on a career high 17 attempts. The rushing yardage was surprising considering the loss of Kameron Bryant, Jackson’s top backup, to a season ending injury the week before. However, Jackson does a really good job when he is running, getting out of bounds and avoiding hits when he called on to run. He never seems to put his body in jeopardy of the big hit which is something that is very tough to coach.

            Steven Miller turned out his second lowest rushing performance of the season, but also carried the ball only seventeen times, his second fewest carries of the season. Many of his carries were taken by Jackson, but the Mountaineers also saw the return of Rod Chisholm for the second straight game. Chisholm seemed to run harder this week on his carries and should be pretty close to 100% health. The emergence of Miller as a receiver has added another element to the Mountaineer passing game. Miller now has three receiving touchdowns on the season, all coming in the last two conference games. Miller is now up to 676 rushing yards and 181 receiving yards on the season. Andrew Peacock chipped in with a team high seven catches against Elon, giving him a team leading thirty reception on the year. Tony Washington only caught two passes, but made the best of them, which included a career long 54-yard touchdown reception where he broke several tackles before hitting the end zone. It was his first touchdown of the season.

            I have a high respect for Samford and their football team. They came into the conference and were a middle of the pack team from the start. They have played Appalachian tough in every game and have also beaten every team in the conference outside of Appalachian since they have joined. Summerlin and their passing game should be able to move the ball against the Mountaineers, who have given up the most passing yards in the conference this season. That number will probably even out once Appalachian runs into some of the more run-oriented teams in the conference, but nonetheless, the statistic exists. Samford leads the league in interceptions with 11, with Appalachian a close second with nine. I think those numbers are once again skewed based on schedule. Samford really has not run into any of the league’s better passing teams, with Appalachian owning the league’s top passing attack based on efficiency and yards per game. Gardner-Webb, who is 0-5, and averaging 228 yards per game in the air, threw for 320 yards on Samford. Six of Samford’s eleven picks have also come against inferior opponents. Three were picked off in the Furman game, on a quarterback that the Paladins are not even playing anymore. Another three interceptions came against West Alabama, a team who owns the 127th ranked passing offense in Division II. Western Carolina, Georgia Southern and The Citadel don’t exactly strike anyone as teams who as proficient in the forward pass. I think it is very possible Jamal Jackson continues his ways with opposing defenses. Jackson threw for 290 yards last season against the Bulldogs, and Travaris Cadet had his way with the Bulldog defense as well. I think Steven Miller is a better running back than Cadet. Samford gave up eight plays of twenty or more yards last year against Appalachian and I think that is where the Mountaineers will win the battle. I think Appalachian has better playmaking ability compared to all of the Samford offenses we have seen in the past. I believe you can almost count on Samford coach Pat Sullivan taking his chances if given the opportunity to jump on Appalachian quickly with a fourth down conversion attempt or fake field goal. Either way, I think the Mountaineers are the better team this weekend.

The First Pick:

Dogs from the Plains             27       

Mountaineers                         35


Appalachian State Baseball (39-15, 21-9 SoCon) vs Samford (37-21, 19-11 SoCon) SoCon Tourney

Samford advanced in the winners bracket with a 7-0 shutout of Western Carolina, in a game that started two hours late and ended at approximately 12:30 AM on Thursday morning. Chances are high that the scheduled 8 PM start of tonight’s game will also be pushed back. Samford will most likely start Charles Basford, who did not factor into the decision in a 7-4 Appalachian win two weeks ago in Birmingham. Last year, Basford struck out a career high ten batters and pitched 8.1 innings in a win at Appalachian.

Appalachian won two of three games at Samford this year in a series that was a very back and forth affair. Appalachian won game one with four runs in the ninth inning. The second game featured Samford scoring four runs in the eighth inning to win 4-2. Appalachian won the rubber match 9-7 in a game that featured three lead changes. Last year against Samford, Seth Grant took a loss, despite holding Samford to one earned run and five hits in six innings. Grant has not recorded a decision in five straight starts and his last win came in the home series against Charleston.

Probable Starters

ASU Sr. RHP Seth Grant (6-3, 2.70) vs SU Sr. RHP Charles Basford (8-2, 4.04)

If Appalachian had any answers to Samford’s pitching on Thursday evening, the Samford offense seemed to come up with more answers than the Mountaineers could muster. Samford pounded the Appalachian pitching staff for 16 hits and 12 runs, the second highest run total the Mountaineers had allowed all season, in a 12-7 win. Seth Grant was tagged with an ugly loss, giving up eight earned runs in only 4.2 innings, on only 77 pitches. Both numbers were season lows for Grant. It was easily his worst performance of the season.

The seven runs the Mountaineers produced came from Trey Holmes, who hit his sixth home run of the season on a two run shot in the fourth inning. Mostly, Appalachian took advantage of four Samford errors which led to five of the Mountaineers runs. Hector Crespo, Tyler Zupcic and Daniel Kassouf had two hits each. Tyler Tewell hit his 16th double of the season. Appalachian will now face Furman for the fifth time this season, and second time in this tournament in a losers bracket game.

Appalachian State Baseball (36-12, 20-7 SoCon) @ Samford (33-19, 19-11)

Last weekend, the series against Greensboro was a big deal for Appalachian, and this weekend, the baseball games mean even more. The race is super tight for the SoCon regular season crown, and both Samford and Appalachian can make major strides to achieving their goals this weekend. Appalachian is in a good spot, controlling its own destiny, needing to win four of its last six conference games to secure the title. Samford really needs a sweep as they sit a game behind second place Charleston. Appalachian has to play its final six conference games on the road, and Samford is 7-5 at home this season against conference opponents. Those game include series wins over Citadel and Furman, taking three games from Western Carolina, and being swept by Elon. Samford had won seven in a row and eleven of twelve games before falling in the series finale at Georgia Southern last weekend.

This series will be a battle of offenses versus pitching. Both Samford and Appalachian have superior pitching staffs and high team batting averages. Appalachian hits .317 as a team compared to the .303 that Samford hits. Samford’s pitching staff edges out Appalachian with a 3.68 team ERA compared the the Mountaineers’ 3.72. This could be a very interesting series considering these powerful numbers for both teams. Most likely we will see a series very similar to the one at Georgia Southern. I doubt either team sweeps, but I can see one pitching duel, a one run game, and one blowout.

Probable Starters

Game 1

ASU Sr. RHP Ryan Arrowood (9-0, 3.77) vs. SU Sr. RHP Charles Basford (8-2, 3.87)

Two great performances by both starting pitchers resulted in neither one earning a decision. This game was up to the bullpens when Samford starter Charles Basford left in the eighth inning with runners on first and second base and one out. Samford reliever Joseph Burns balked the runners to scoring position before he threw his first pitch. Burns was able to force a groundout before a confusing intentional walk to the slumping Jeremy Dowdy with two outs. The second pitch to Trey Holmes hit him, which brought in the tying run heading into the bottom half of the inning.

Not to be outdone, Appalachian’s bullpen allowed a run on two hits with two outs in the bottom of the eighth to give the lead back to Samford heading into the final inning. Samford needed three outs to win the game. After Arthur Strauss was able to retire pinch hitter Brandon Burris, he issued a walk to Appalachian’s leading base stealer Hector Crespo. Strauss sandwiched a walk to Tyler Zupcic between Crespo stealing second and third base. Will Callaway endured a nine pitch at-bat and reached base on a fielders choice RBI that scored Crespo. With runners on first and second, Daniel Kassouf popped up in the infield. With the score now knotted at four runs apiece and still two outs, Samford’s bullpen had given up a lead in consecutive innings. Tyler Tewell would face Samford’s third pitcher of the inning, and he wasted no time. Tewell singled on the first pitch, scoring Zupcic and putting Callaway on third. Lex Rutledge would then balk, allowing Callway to score, and moving Tewell to second base. Jeremy Dowdy would then single on a 0-2 count to plate the fourth run of the inning for Appalachian on only two hits.

The bottom of the ninth inning was uneventful as Nathan Hyatt retired the side on seven pitches for his twelfth save of the season. Appalachian scored five runs in their final two at bats for the come from behind win. Rhyne Frankoff (1-1) was credited the win by striking out one batter in the eighth inning. Tyler Tewell collected two hits and two RBI, including his sixth home run of the season on a solo shot in the sixth inning. Hector Crespo and Tyler Zupcic also collected two hits. For Ryan Arrowood (9-0, 3.66), it was his fourth no decision of the season and he threw 100 pitches or more in his third consecutive start. Arrowood has also lowered his ERA in six straight starts. Arrowood only managed two strikeouts for the game, his lowest total of the season.

Game 2

ASU Sr. RHP Seth Grant (6-2, 3.08) vs. SU Sr. RHP Josh Martin (9-1, 3.42)

Since Samford’s bullpen gave Appalachian the win in the first game of the doubleheader, it was only fair for the Mountaineers to return the favor. Seth Grant pitched seven innings, only giving up four hits, but managed to find himself with his fourth consecutive no decision. Appalachian needed five pitchers in the eighth inning to retire Samford. The Bulldogs recorded five of their nine hits in the eighth and also took advantage of a two out walk to score four runs, which provided the final margin, giving Samford a 4-2 win.

Appalachian could only manage five hits and two runs against Samford starter Josh Martin, who went the distance to earn the complete game. Martin threw 120 pitches, striking out six Mountaineers and only walking one. Appalachian scored their two runs on Martin in the first inning when Crespo and Zupcic led off the game with singles. Callaway was able to reach base after a throwing error which scored Crespo and allowed Zupcic to advance to third base. Daniel Kassouf grounded into a double play, but Zupcic scored on the play. Four of the five Mountaineer hits came from its top three batters in the lineup. Appalachian scored two runs or less for only the fifth time all season and fell to 1-4 in those games.

Game 3

ASU Jr. LHP Rob Marcello (6-3, 4.04) vs. SU Sr. RHP Kyle Putkonen (2-5, 5.85)

In the all important rubber match, Appalachian took advantage of nine free passes and twelve hits  to hold off Samford for a 9-7 win. The Mountaineers were able to chase Samford starter Kyle Putkonen after only three innings, where he allowed five hits and three runs. For the third straight game, an Appalachian starting pitcher did not garner a decision, the first instance all season. Rob Marcello was able to get through 4.2 innings, but allowed nine hits and issued four walks.

Jeremy Dowdy might have broken his slump as he hit a two-run home run in the second inning. Dowdy exited in the fifth inning in what appears to be a move to rest him, considering catching a doubleheader the previous day. Hector Crespo, Will Callaway, Daniel Kassouf and Tyler Tewell all collected two hits each. Callaway, Kassouf and Tewell all recorded their 15th double of the season. Jamie Nunn (5-0) picked up the win in relief despite allowing two runs. Tyler Moore recorded his first save of the season, the only save not recorded by Nathan Hyatt this season.

With the series win, Appalachian eliminated Samford from conference title contention. Elon still has an outside chance if they were to sweep Citadel next weekend, Appalachian were to be swept by Western Carolina, and Charleston were to be swept by Greensboro. The likelihood of that happening is very slim, but its a possibility. Most importantly, Appalachian moved its magic number to two. The Mountaineers need a combination of wins or Charleston losses to clinch its first conference title since in twenty five years. Furman remains in eighth place, and would be Appalachian’s first round opponent if the conference tournament were to start today. Furman holds a one game lead over Greensboro for the final tournament spot and can clinch that spot with two wins over Davidson, as it holds the tiebreaker over Greensboro.

Appalachian State Women’s Basketball: 2011-12 Season Review

Darcie Vincent added another record breaking season for the Mountaineers in her fourth season. Vincent broke the record she set the previous season in program wins with 27 wins this season. For the second season in a row, she won at least a share of the conference regular season championship. However, there is one goal that has eluded Vincent and the Mountaineers: the SoCon Tournament Championship and NCAA berth that comes with it. Samford has ended the Mountaineers tournament in each of the last three seasons, twice in the championship game.

It is tough for your entire season to come down to three flawless days of basketball. Before the SoCon tournament, Appalachian was 23-5, with three losses in conference, and two out of conference, to Virginia and Georgia. There was not one game the Mountaineers lost that they “should have” won or vice versa. Losing in conference is something that is almost unavoidable when you play a team twice a year, however, Davidson did have the Mountaineers number this year. The unfortunate part, is handling Samford twice in the regular season and not being able to complete the season sweep in the tournament.

The post season tournaments in women’s basketball gives teams that much more practice time and game time to prepare for the nest season. Two seasons ago, Appalachian was invited to play in the inaugural Women’s Basketball Invitational. Even though the 16 team field lacked a lot of big names, it did include high profile schools from power conferences like Washington, Louisville, and Memphis. Those four extra games were important for Appalachian to grow as a team. Appalachian won their first three games by double digits and came back from a double digit deficit to defeat Memphis in the championship game. Last year, Appalachian advanced to the WNIT, but was ousted in the first round by South Carolina. This season, the Mountaineers won two games in WNIT, both games on the road where they were considered underdogs. UNC-Wilmington is in the Colonial Athletic Association and was ranked 7th in the conference RPI. NC State and the Atlantic Coast Conference are ranked 6th in the RPI. Appalachian and Southern Conference are ranked 14th. It is fairly easy to see the improvement that has been made in the past three seasons. The difference in ACC, SEC, and CAA teams are the size difference. Appalachian may have addressed that this year in recruiting.

Even though Appalachian lost four seniors, we must look ahead to the future class of Mountaineers. Three of them are 5’10” or taller and fit the mold that Vincent prefers. They all like defense and like rebounding the basketball. LaShawna Gatewood (Twinsburg, OH) is listed at 5’11” and can play either the two-guard or wing. Her high school won state championships her junior and senior seasons. She averaged 4.5 rebounds a game from the guard position. Bria Huffman (Clover, SC) is another 5’10” G/F who is also a great defender, averaging 3.4 steals per game her senior season. However, Huffman is best known as a scorer. Huffman averaged double digit scoring her final three years in high school, capped with a 17.8 point per game average in her senior season. Khadejah Wilkerson (Greensboro, NC) is a 6’1″ forward who is a dominant presence in the post. Her Greensboro Day team was a state runner up and Wilkerson was named an all state honoree. Wilkerson averaged a double-double her sophomore year. Farrahn Wood (Lewisville, NC) is a 5’8″ guard who is a pure shooter. She holds the Forsyth Country Day record for three pointers in a game with nine. Possibly could be considered a Katie Mallow clone with better defense. Wood averaged 9.8 points per game her senior year to go along with 4.8 rebounds.

Appalachian State Women’s Basketball: Samford Postgame (SoCon Championship)

It was difficult to watch, and even more of a struggle to write about, but here it goes. Some of the things we were worried about going into the Championship game against Samford came true in a 54-43 loss. Appalachian shot the basketball horridly for the entire game, only 29%, after shooting 51% the day before against Chattanooga. Secondly, it was not the starters who did not show up, it was the bench players, where Appalachian was outscored 19-9. Appalachian was flustered by good defense and put up bad shots, and did not take the ball to the basket strong, which led to only four free throw attempts to Samford’s 16 attempts. The turnover battle was even, but Samford did a much better job of capitalizing on mistakes, scoring 23 points to only 13 for Appalachian.

After all that, Appalachian still had a chance to win the game. After trailing by as many as ten points on three different occasions in the first half, the Mountaineers cut the Samford lead to seven at halftime. Appalachian battled back in the second half and led by one point on two different occasions, with just over eight minutes to play. However Samford’s hot shooting in the second half and their free throws helped them pull away to their second straight championship and NCAA berth

Appalachian will now wait until early next week to determine its fate for a potential WNIT at large berth. Those pairings will be released late Monday Night, March 12th.