Appalachian Football @ Wofford

Here we go with Week 11:

Appalachian State (2-8, 2-4 SoCon) @ Wofford (5-4, 4-2 SoCon)

Time: 1:30 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

Gibbs Stadium

Surface: Natural Grass

Capacity: 8,500

Jeff Sagarin Ratings: 

App State: 44.15

WC: 47.13

Home: 3.91

Wofford is favored by the Sagarin ratings by 7 points (rounded).

Series: Appalachian leads 17-12        

Last Meeting: Wofford 38, Appalachian 28, Oct. 20, 2012, Boone 

WXAPP’s Spartanburg Gameday Weather Trends

Mostly Cloudy with temperatures in the lower 60’s. Chance for a shower or two.

            For the first time since that gorgeous day in Ann Arbor, six years, the Mountaineers played a game against an FBS opponent and had the home fans booing their team when the players exited the field at halftime. We have always had a comment or a theme about these games when our team is outnumbered and outgunned. We might not win the game, but the ultimate goal is to let everyone know in Athens, (Ann Arbor, Auburn, etc) that the Mountaineers were here. Obviously this sounds better in a parking lot before or after a game versus the written word, but the point is made. Georgia might have run a fake punt against Appalachian because Chattanooga was successful the week before. It’s also quite possible that the Bulldogs were slightly worried in the second quarter that the Mountaineers were hanging around a little longer than they had hoped. We’ll never know what thoughts were running through the minds of coaches wearing red and black this past Saturday. I doubt it would surprise anyone if just one of them was thinking about being on the wrong end of a lead story on just about every sports show for the next week. The final score may have resulted in a loss, but the gain was the confidence in the minds of the players that they have the talents and the minds to do something that nobody expected. The first half was just that. It was only a fraction of the story on Saturday. But for an hour or so, Appalachian players and fans had forgotten their record, and were sitting on the edge of their seats with each play. Sometimes, the game is not always about winning, and that is certainly true this season. But the fact remains: Nothing beats being a Mountaineer.

            There is only so much that can be drawn from such a lopsided score than everyone expects. Georgia and their depth eventually powered through in the second half, while the Mountaineers could not overcome missed opportunities in the first half. Appalachian was in position to score on four of their six first half possessions. Four times they advanced the ball from their end of the field into Bulldog territory. And coincidentally, four times they lined up to kick a field goal, struggling to score a touchdown. The chance to give Georgia a big scare was there, but the Mountaineers could not convert. On those four drives, prior to attempting the field goals, the Mountaineers averaged 13.7 yards to gain to convert the third down. All those series of downs began just like every other drive starts, with a first down, and ten yards to gain. On three of the four drives, the offensive line was responsible for the lost yardage due to false starts. App was penalized in all, on four of their six first half drives, and sometimes twice on a couple drives. Eliminating penalties is asking too much. Imagine just cutting those yellow flags in half, and the Mountaineers would have been in better position to convert those third downs, and maybe, score one touchdown in the first half.

            Mentioning the second half is virtually pointless. Georgia scored on its first five possessions of the second half and put the game away. The one possession game slowly turned into the anticipated bloodbath. On those five possessions in which Georgia scored in the second half, the Bulldogs had at least one play of over 20 yards on every single drive. It didn’t matter who was in at quarterback for Georgia. The Mountaineers didn’t help their cause, as Marcus Cox and Kam Bryant were both responsible for an ugly fumble on the first play of the fourth quarter. At that point the game was decided. Appalachian could only muster 44 total yards in the second half. Three drives lost yards in the second half. Georgia clamped down on defense and avoided any potential upset.

            There were very few highlight performances from the Mountaineers in the game. The running game was difficult as we expected. Marcus Cox somehow grinded out a very tough 59 yards on twenty-three carries. Kam Bryant completed below 60% of his passes. Andrew Peacock was the benefactor of the short passing game the Mountaineers employed, catching twelve passes for 90 yards. Tony Washington was the deep threat to an extent, averaging 15.6 yards per catch for 78 yards in all. The defense made a couple big plays with Karl Anderson and John Law intercepting passes. Anderson’s pick was a big part of the Mountaineers sticking around in the first half. Law’s pick came late, but gave him his team-leading third interception of the year.

            The beauty of SoCon football returns to the schedule this week, as the Mountaineers will play in a stadium with less than ten percent of the fans than the previous game. The Mountaineer defense will also have to adjust after facing a traditional I-formation to the infamous wingbone that Wofford runs. The Terriers were right in the middle of the SoCon title hunt before facing Samford and Chattanooga in their last two games, both losses. The Terriers could possibly still clinch a share of the title, but lose tiebreakers to both Samford and Chattanooga due to losses in the last two weekends. Depending on the last two games, Wofford could finish anywhere from a tie for first to fourth place. Wofford will need a win in both of its last two games, against Appalachian and Furman to even give themselves a chance to make the playoffs. The next Wofford loss will decide their postseason fate in any fashion.

            In the last month, the Terriers have not only lost to Samford and Chattanooga, but have also snuck out wins over the bottom of the SoCon barrel in Western Carolina and Elon. The Terriers trailed Elon 24-7 at the half before rallying for 24 second half points and winning by four at home. In Cullowhee, the Terriers score fourteen second half points while shutting out Western in the second half to win once again by four points.  The difference in those two wins was keeping the opponent off the board. Western and Elon combined for one measly field goal in the second half of their games against Wofford. It will be another long Saturday for Mountaineer faithful if Wofford has similar success as they did against Western and Elon.

            It may seem simple to understand what needs to be accomplished to hold back the Wofford offense. We all know about how much they like to run the ball. Their rushing attack, if successful, sets up their unpredictable passing game. The key is that simple. Just like any other option attack, you have to keep them behind the chains on first and second down and force those long yardage situations. That is a given, and its no secret. Looking deeper, the success of their running game has directly led the Terriers to their wins and losses. The cutoff line for Wofford is right at 250 total rushing yards. There are some slight outliers, in that they rushed for 258 yards against Samford in a loss, and 249 yards were gained on the ground against Elon in a win. In the other seven games they have played, the 250 rushing yards is the line in which Wofford wins and loses. Against Baylor, Gardner-Webb, and Chattanooga, the Terriers averaged 163 yards rushing. In their four wins outside of the Elon result, Wofford rolled up 340 yards rushing per game. The Mountaineers must be disruptive in the Wofford backfield. That is their chance to beat the Terriers. Appalachian played well against Georgia Southern and Chattanooga recently, outside of letting Jacob Huesman run wild for the Mocs. Donavan Johnson has been the workhorse for Wofford, almost to his detriment. Johnson averaged 26.4 carries a game in the first five games of the season, before accumulating no stats against Western and Elon, presumably to an injury. In the last two games, he averaged 26.5 carries per game. So if he is out there, he is getting the ball, no question about it. In his absence, Jonny Martin, who is the team leader in rushing touchdowns, averaged over 20 carries and 107 yards against Western and Elon. The difficult part for Appalachian in planning for the Wofford rushing attack is determining which quarterback will play. Wofford has had four quarterbacks see significant time this season on the field. Will Gay is the only quarterback to play in every game and he leads the group with highest yards per rush. However, Gay appears to be the least accomplished passer, attempting only three passes on the season. In the end, as much as this game is about stopping Wofford, it is most important for Appalachian to score when they have the ball. That is simply what the season has come down to. If the Apps can score, they give themselves a chance. If they don’t, Wofford will slowly beat down the Appalachian defense for an easy win.

The First Pick:

Ankle Biters                21

Mountaineers              23

Women’s Basketball 77 Wofford 50

The Mountaineer women will face Wofford in the annual Play4Kay game for cancer research. Wofford is 0-5 on the road this season in conference play despite taking Appalachian to two overtimes earler this season. Wofford has yet to beat an Appalachian team coached by Darcie Vincent despite several close calls over the years. The Mountaineers have won eleven in a row in the series and really needs a win to keep pressure on the teams in front of them in the conference standings.

Chattanooga 14-1 .933 8-0 6-1 0-0 W11 21-3 .875 11-0 9-3 1-0 W11
Davidson 11-2 .846 5-2 6-0 0-0 L1 14-9 .609 6-2 7-6 1-1 L1
Appalachian State 9-4 .692 5-1 4-3 0-0 W1 15-6 .714 7-1 6-5 2-0 W1
Elon 9-5 .643 6-1 3-4 0-0 L2 12-11 .522 9-2 3-9 0-0 L2
Samford 9-6 .600 6-2 3-4 0-0 W1 12-12 .500 8-3 4-9 0-0 W1


This game was never in reach for Wofford. Appalachian jumped out to leads of 8-0, 15-5, and 29-14 before leading by fifteen points at halftime. Appalachian extended that lead throughout the second half en route to a 27 point victory, one where Appalachian actively pursued scoring on their last possession of the game. Anna Freeman hit a layup at the end of the shot clock, with two seconds remaining in the game to make the final score 77-50.

In a game where Appalachian dominated from start to finish, the Mountaineers hit the glass for the highest rebounding margin of the season, yet still seem to give up plenty of offensive rebounds. The Mountaineers led the battle of the boards 51-37, but nearly half of Wofford’s boards were on the offensive glass. This has been a problem for Appalachian all season long, and there does not seem to be a cure in the near future.

Wofford had problems hitting shots all game long. The Terriers only shot 28.3% from the field, 17.6% from behind the arc, and only 50% from the free throw line. In all, Appalachian made thirteen more made field goals than Wofford, shooting just under 50% for the game while also hitting fifteen of their twenty free throws.

Four Mountaineers scored in double figures, led as always by Anna Freeman, who scored 19 points and secured her second straight double-double, and third in her last five games. Anna now has six double-doubles on the season, this one no doubt being one her best with 15 rebounds. Maryah Sydnor finished with 14 points and 8 rebounds. Raven Gary scored 10 points and added five assists, without recording a turnover. Courtney Freeman finished with 11 points.

Women’s Basketball 68 Wofford 65

Appalachian travels to Wofford on Monday night for another SoCon road game. The Terriers are struggling mightily this season, having lost five straight games, and are currently winless in the SoCon. Wofford notched a impressive win at Alabama in December, but have not won since that game. To think that the same Western Carolina team that Appalachian just throttled on Saturday beat Wofford by fourteen is tough to imagine. Western is terrible, and it is hard to believe that there is a team in the league that they can beat. Wofford has lost its last three games by double digits and has averaged a mere 47.3 points per games in those three games.

Daniella Motley leads Wofford bu averaging a double-double at 10.9 points and 10.2 rebounds per games. Motley has grabbed double digit rebounds in eight games this season. Motley leads the team in minutes played, but is only a 33% free throw shooter. Rachel Brittenham is one of the better point guards in the league at 7.3 points and 3.8 rebounds per game. Brittenham had a career high eleven assists against the Mountaineers last year.

Appalachian is in a four way tie for second place in the SoCon, as Chattanooga, Elon and Samford also only have one loss in conference play. All four second place teams are in action on Monday night, with Chattanooga hosting 3-2 Charleston being the highlight of the four SoCon games. Appalachian, Samford and Elon should  win easily. Davidson plays Furman on Tuesday.


We are not going to pretend we know a lot about this game, since our attention was focused on the men’s game at home tipped off an hour after the women tipped in Spartanburg. For whatever reason, Appalachian has a tough time winning easily in Spartanburg. Several games in the Vincent era have been won in the Sparkle City, but not very easily. Appalachian held and eleven point lead at halftime, but allowed Wofford to come back on tie the game at halftime.

It appears both team traded baskets for much of the second half, as the two teams combined for thirteen tie scores and twelve lead changes for the game. Wofford (5-9, 0-6) hit big buckets at the end of regulation and the first overtime to tie the game and force extra periods.

Appalachian (10-3, 4-1) held huge advantages on the free throw line and on the defensive glass. Appalachian only attempted two more free throws than Wofford, but turned that into ten extra points. The Mountaineers also dominated Wofford on the glass, holding a fourteen rebound advantage, mostly on the defensive end. However, it was 35 Mountaineer turnovers that kept Wofford in the game and forced the Mountaineers to work ten extra minutes to get the win.

Maryah Sydnor led all scorers with 23 points while also adding fourteen rebounds for her first double-double of the season. Sydnor was named SoCon Player of the Week on Tuesday afternoon after leading the conference in scoring the previous week. Katie Mallow added 14 points while Courtney Freeman chipped in twelve points. Anna Freeman was held to single digit scoring for the second time in four games.  Despite a lack of scoring production, Anna added fourteen rebounds, six assists, five blocks and four steals.

SoCon Women’s Basketball SoCon Overall
Team Record Pct Home Away Neutral Streak Record Pct Home Away Neutral Streak
Davidson 4-0 1.000 2-0 2-0 0-0 W4 7-7 .500 3-0 3-6 1-1 W3
Chattanooga 5-1 .833 4-0 1-1 0-0 W2 12-3 .800 7-0 4-3 1-0 W2
Elon 5-1 .833 3-1 2-0 0-0 W5 8-7 .533 6-2 2-5 0-0 W4
Samford 5-1 .833 4-0 1-1 0-0 W3 8-7 .533 6-1 2-6 0-0 W3
Appalachian State 4-1 .800 2-0 2-1 0-0 W3 10-3 .769 4-0 4-3 2-0 W3


Men’s Basketball 50 Wofford 49

The SoCon gauntlet begins tomorrow evening for Appalachian. Seventeen straight games against conference opponents. On Tuesday, Appalachian resumes conference play against Wofford, who like Appalachian, is 0-1 in SoCon play. Both teams really need a win, perhaps Wofford even more so. If the Terriers want to contend in the SoCon South, they will need to keep pace with Davidson, who they have already lost to in early December.

Wofford grabbed the attention of college basketball before Christmas with a one point win on the road at Xavier. Prior to that, the Terriers had lost to some mid-majors that they should have competed with better than they did. Wofford put up some ugly point totals against UNCW (37), Gardner Webb (54) and Ohio (50). However that is Wofford’s style, a Princeton-esque offense that utilizes the shot clock and plays a slow down game, very similar to their football team and the wingbone. Honestly, they are a boring team to scout and watch because they have a team of players whose skill levels are not that far apart from top to bottom, and they play together.

Regardless, the Terriers are 3-0 at home this season, with wins over Winhrop and Gardner Webb and a non-D I win over Weber Intl. The rest of their eleven games have been on the road. Wofford has only scored 87 points their last two games, but Appalachian might be exactly what they are looking for. The Mountaineer defense has been bad all year, mostly in transition. Wofford prefers the halfcourt game, so the Mountaineers may have a small edge in that category. Even though Wofford is scoring in small bunches, they have three players averaging in double figures. Karl Cochran leads the team with 16.1 points per game, and has hit 42 three pointers this season. Lee Skinner averages 10.9 points and 6.9 rebounds while Spencer Collins scores 10.7 per game with 27 made threes. The scary thing for the SoCon, is that all three are underclassmen, with at least two more years to play. They are young, and will make mistakes, and be out of position on defense, but they are still solid.

The early spread says that the Mountaineers are ten point underdogs on the road. This is exactly what we have been looking for all season when picking a game. The Mountaineers are a perfect 7-0 this season against the spread, and I doubt this game stays so high. Appalachian is one everyone’s radar in Vegas, and I bet this line could move as much as 1.5 points before the game tips off. We will update with a line in the morning. In the meantime, we are gonna stay on Appalachian at +10.

UPDATE: Our main book that we use opened this morning at +8 and in two hours it has moved back to +9. It is very likely this line moves again, and I think it could go either way, but I would think towards 9.5.

UPDATE II: Just a couple hours before tipoff, the line moved again to 9.5, but it was shortlived as the line closed at +9 before tipoff. We have no reason to change our pick and we will stay with the Mountaineers.


Postgame: It was not a pretty game, but it was effective. Sometimes you have to win ugly, and any time you win on the road in conference play it is a big plus. Appalachian won its third straight game with a 50-49 win over Wofford on Tuesday night. The Mountaineers led by one at halftime, and overcame a seven point deficit with seven minutes to play the secure the victory.

Opening the second half, Appalachian went on a 11-3 run to lead 36-27 before Wofford called a timeout with 17:15 to play. From there, Wofford responded with a 20-4 run that spanned the next nine minutes of the ball game to take a seven point lead with 8:29 to play. Appalachian rallied to score ten of the final twelve points of the game to hold on for the win. Wofford failed to score for the final 6:57 of the game while the Mountaineers took their time scoring the final eight points of the game.

Nathan Healy was the star of the game for Appalachian with 10 points, five rebounds and several altered shots that did not make it to the official scorer. Healy says he blocked three shots, despite only being credited for one. Tevin Baskin came off the bench to score 10 points and grab four rebounds, including a huge blocked shot with under a minute to play. Jay Canty chipped in with eight points and nine rebounds.

For the seventh straight lined game, we were able to correctly make the right play against the spread. Our record is 7-1 on the season, while the Mountaineers have covered every game that has been lined. That mark is the best in college basketball. The closest team to Appalachian’s 8-0 record against the spread is Gardner-Webb, who is 3-0. All the moving of the line prior to the game proved to be a moot statistic as Appalachian also won straight up in a lined game for only the second time this season. Next up for Appalachian is Elon on Saturday, and I expect the Mountaineers to once again be underdogs, maybe by as many as six points. I could see the line being as low as 3.5

Wofford @ Appalachian Football

Here we go with Week 8:

#8 Wofford (5-1, 3-1 T2) @ #13 Appalachian State (5-2, 3-1 T2)   

Time: 3:30

TV/Video: GoASU TV

Radio: WKBC 97.3 Wilkesboro, Charlotte, Winston Salem, Hickory & High Country; WATA 1450 Boone, Blowing Rock; ESPN 730 Charlotte, Rock Hill, Salisbury; WCOG 1320 Greensboro, Winston Salem, WMFR 1230 Greensboro, High Point; WSML 1200 Burlington, Greensboro; WCMC 99.9 Raleigh, WZGM 1350 Black Mountain, Asheville; WPWT 870 Bristol, Johnson City; WTOE 1470 Spruce Pine, WDNC 620 Durham, WLON 1050 Lincolnton

Kidd Brewer Stadium         

Surface: FieldTurf

Capacity: 24,050 

Jeff Sagarin Ratings: 

ASU: 61.34

WC: 62.87

Home: 2.66 points

Appalachian is favored by the Sagarin ratings by 1 point (rounded).

Series: Appalachian leads 17-11

Last Meeting: Wofford 28, Appalachian 14, October 1, 2011, Spartanburg, SC

WXAPP’s Boone Gameday Weather Trends:

Mostly Sunny and clear.

Early Morning: Temperatures in the low 40’s

Noon: Temperatures in the lower 50’s

Kickoff: Temperatures in the mid 50’s

End of Game: Temperatures in the lower 50’s to upper 40’s

            Entering the fourth quarter last weekend, Appalachian held onto what seemed to be a commanding 21-10 lead. During his career, Jerry Moore has a spectacular record when leading after three quarters and when his team scores twenty or more points. Both trends were on the Mountaineers side last Saturday. Quickly, Samford erased the two score lead with a touchdown less than thirty seconds into the fourth quarter and pulled within three points with a successful two point conversion. Suddenly the Mountaineers had lost the momentum and there was a lot of football to be played. On the final three Mountaineer possessions, they ran 22 plays for 179 yards. Fourth quarter domination had been the theme of the season, but the first two drives of the fourth quarter ended with a Jamal Jackson interception and with a turnover on downs. With 1:33 on the clock, Appalachian had to score a touchdown and were eighty yards from the goal line. The drive included three incompletions and four plays that went for big yardage. Jackson ran once for 17 yards and hit Andrew Peacock on a 21-yard passing play. Sean Price started it and finished it with a 20-yard catch on the first play of the drive, and the game clinching score from 22 yards on the last play. The fact that Appalachian didn’t need a comeback beginning the quarter, but was able to flip the switch, and make the plays when it counted speaks volumes. They now have the confidence they didn’t have earlier in the season during losses to East Carolina and The Citadel.

            After Appalachian’s thrilling win, the focus of the conference turned to the late afternoon kickoff between Wofford and Georgia Southern. Wofford had not lost going into that game, and they were facing their first true test of the season. The Wofford schedule had been criticized by national media halfway through the season. They had played three conference teams (Furman, Western Carolina, & Elon) who have one conference win to their credit, a Division II school, and Gardner Webb. The remainder of Wofford’s schedule included the likes of Georgia Southern, Appalachian, South Carolina, and tough conference games against The Citadel, Chattanooga, and Samford. The weakest team on that slate appears to be The Citadel, who has cooled off since knocking off Georgia Southern and Appalachian earlier in the season.

            Wofford attempted eight passes in the game against Georgia Southern, while the Eagles ran 52 plays, and kept the ball on the ground on every single play. Of those eight passes, Wofford connected on three of them, for a whopping 27 yards. That is how you beat Wofford. Let me repeat. In order to beat Wofford, you must keep their passing game in check. The passing plays that Wofford likes to run sets up their entire offense. They want the threat of a pass to be there just enough to keep defensive players off the line of scrimmage. The threat was never there against Georgia Southern. Wofford averaged 4.1 yards per carry rushing the ball. That is good, but not good enough. When a team like Wofford hands the ball off or gives ten different players the opportunity the carry the ball, you know they are searching. They are using tool in the shed in order to break the big play. Eric Breitenstein had a 65 yard run, and twelve other carries that went for a combined 37 yards. Take away the big play, and Breitenstein averaged just a shade over 3 yards a carry. Ray Smith carried four times for 25 yards. Smith had a long of 12, and three other carries that went for 13 yards. His average was 4.3 yards, taking away his longest carry. Finally, Cam Flowers carried six times for 30 yards, with a long of fourteen yards. His other five carries went for sixteen yards, which equates to 3.2 yards per attempt. Limiting Wofford’s big plays is instrumental to beating them. Brandon Grier and Jeremy Kimbrough will have the task of keeping Wofford’s offense behind schedule, and in long distance situations.  

            It would be tough to go without mentioning Eric Breitenstein in this spot. The Watauga County native has been racking up yardage throughout his career. His previous three matchups against Appalachian have been a mixed bag. His first career 100 yard rushing came against Appalachian way back in 2008. His 157 yards that night are completely overshadowed by seventy points the Mountaineers scored that night, a couple weeks short of four years ago. Breitenstein’s second game career game against Appalachian occurred in a de facto conference championship game, with both teams undefeated in conference play. Breitenstein was held in check with only thirty nine yards rushing on seventeen carries. Last year, Appalachian was without Jeremy Kimbrough, and it showed, as Breitenstein carried the ball thirty-three times, still a career high in attempts, for 173 yards. He has 56 career touchdowns, and will finish his career with three straight 1,000 yard seasons However, of Breitenstein’s 56 career touchdowns; there are only two teams in the Southern Conference in which he has yet to score a touchdown against: Georgia Southern and Appalachian.

            I felt like Jamal Jackson’s streak of interceptions was going to be snapped last weekend. Jackson waited until the fourth quarter to turn the ball over, and it was very concerning. Most of his interceptions have come in the first half, when there was plenty of time to overcome the mistake. Despite the constant nitpicking by yours truly, Jackson has a very solid INT:TD ratio in his career at 2:1, which includes stats when he was playing in garbage time earlier in his career. Jackson has improved the statistical categories that we have kept up with. When Jackson throws more touchdowns than interceptions in a game, he is 5-0 this season, and 10-0 in his career as a starter. Jackson is 10-4 as a starter, and yes, he has thrown an interception in every single loss as a starter. With his 288 yards passing against Samford and only 6 yards rushing, Jackson remains the conference leader in passing efficiency and total offense.  

            Steven Miller, the starting running back, has led the team in receiving yards in two straight games. The idea is to keep Miller away from the line of scrimmage and get him out in space to make plays. Rod Chisholm is taking away a few carries from Miller, but has been used effectively to give Miller a break and to keep him fresh. After a three game stretch of 70 total rushing attempts by Miller, he has rushed for exactly seventeen times in each of the last three games. His twenty receptions are the most surprising. Over the season, he has averaged fourteen yards a catch, but most recently, in his last four games, those numbers have spiked to 18.9 yards per catch. Those are outstanding numbers for a receiver, much less a running back.

             So how do we talk about this matchup? It is really difficult to look at season stats and judge the two teams, Wofford has played the bottom of the conference, and at that, teams that are not particularly offensive powers. You can throw the Georgia Southern game out the window based on the style of play of both teams. There were a combined 106 rushing plays called, and the teams only combined for thirty first downs. The game was completed in under two and half hours. For Wofford, I think Appalachian presents an entirely different challenge. Wofford must now defend the entire field against an Appalachian receiving corps that is arguably the best in the conference. Wofford may have a defensive back or two with equal talent, but they certainly do not have four of them. I think Appalachian will exploit the Wofford secondary as they have in the past. Last season, the Wofford game was the last game of the season where Jamal Jackson did not start. The Appalachian offense was in shambles, and Wofford played keep away and slowly pulled away while Appalachian continued to miss opportunities in the red zone to cash in on points and cut the Wofford lead. On top of that the Mountaineers only possessed the ball for twenty-one and a half minutes. For as poor of a performance Appalachian displayed last year in Spartanburg, the Terriers won by two touchdowns. Only two touchdowns. It has been ten years since Wofford has won in Boone and only one game since 2002 has been decided by fewer than ten points in Boone. Much like Appalachian, Wofford has suffered a slew of injuries to the defensive side of the ball. Even Eric Breitenstein has been wearing a protective boot this week and has been limited in practice. In a game of two high-powered offensive teams, two things are going to happen and one of them is not going to result in a back and forth affair. This game will be decided on which defense figures out the opponent first and I believe the game will snowball from there. Appalachian’s offense has improved tremendously since last season. Wofford’s offense is basically the same yet, they have a different quarterback than last season. Brian Kass is a lanky 6’1 and is not as quick with the ball as Mitch Allen was last year. He is not deceptive even after handing the ball off. That offense thrives on deception and misdirection. I think the Appalachian defense will be able to swarm the outsides more effectively than last season and contain the wingbone attack.

The First Pick:

Ankle Biters                            21       

Mountaineers                         31

Appalachian State Baseball (32-9, 16-5 SoCon) @ Wofford (17-26, 5-16 SoCon)

For the first time since their first SoCon home series, Wofford will be forced to play three games in three days. In their last two home series in conference play, against Elon and Western Carolina, Wofford was able to schedule doubleheaders on Saturday. In both of those series, Wofford took two games from their opponent. In both situations, the Terriers were able to win on Friday night behind the pitching of Brandon Yarusi, who pitched 15.1 of a possible 18 innings in those games. Against Western, Yarusi threw a complete game shutout. Those two wins account for half of Yarusi’s wins on the season. So what happened to Wofford when they had to play three games in three days in their home opening conference series against Samford? They were swept and outscored 27-14.

Appalachian must avoid the typical letdown that can occur when playing the team who is sitting in last place in the conference. Elon and Western Carolina had to learn the hard way. Appalachian’s record on the road in conference play (2-4) is not that great, but then again, the Mountaineers have visited Elon and Georgia Southern, two teams that are above .500 in conference play and will more than likely will make the eight team conference tournament. In the Chris Pollard era, Appalachian is 6-3 all time in Spartanburg. The Mountaineers swept the Terriers in 201o, their last visit to Spartanburg. Appalachian leads the league in just about every offensive category outside of hits and at-bats, but that is typical with a team that wins at home, and has had four games rained out.  

Game 1

ASU Sr. RHP Ryan Arrowood (7-0,  3.99) vs WC Jr. RHP Brandon Yarusi (4-4, 3.03)

After all the analyzation about not playing a doubleheader this weekend, Mother Nature decided to grant Wofford its wish. The opening game on Friday was rained out and forced a twinbill on Saturday. Ryan Arrowood and Brandon Yarusi did not disappoint, combing for 15 innings pitched on 246 pitches. Both starters only allowed four hits and two earned runs to their opponent. However, a costly error in the sixth inning by Wofford provided just enough of a cushion to survive. Will Callaway was able to reach third base on a throwing error. Daniel Kassouf hit a grounder to the shortstop to score Callaway and give Appalachian the 3-2 lead. Nathan Hyatt was good enough in the eighth and ninth innings to earn his ninth save of the season.

Game 2

ASU Sr. RHP Seth Grant (6-2, 3.27) vs WC Sr. LHP Pete Noordsy (2-2, 4.35)

After game one featured a pitching duel, the nightcap trended toward a shootout. The game had three lead changes and three ties, which does not sound like much, but we are talking about baseball. Neither starting pitcher factored into the decision. Eight Mountaineers collected a hit in the game, but none were bigger than Preston Troutman’s final at bat of the day. Appalachian was down to its last strike in the ninth inning with Trey Holmes on second base. Troutman calmy singled in Holmes to break a 6-6 tie and give the Mountaineers the lead. In the ninth inning, Nathan Hyatt struck out two batters to get his second save of the day and tenth of the season. David Port (2-0) worked a 1-2-3 eighth inning with three fly balls on nine pitches.

Appalachian scored six runs in its final four at bats and finished with fourteen hits on the day in the series clincher. Daniel Kassouf was 3/5 with three RBI. Appalachian was nearly bit by the error bug as only three of Wofford’s runs were earned while the Mountaineers commited two errors. Appalachian improved its record to 8-5 when committing two or more errors.

 Game 3

ASU Jr. LHP Rob Marcello (5-3, 4.11) vs WC Sr. LHP Cash Collins (4-5, 5.14)

It was a Florida type of day for Rob Marcello. The junior college trasnfer from Royal Palm Beach has struggled at time adjusting to the erratic weather in Boone. His fewest innings pitched all season came in a home game against Rider where the weather was cold and windy. Luckily, a 78 degree day in Spartanburg welcomed Marcello (6-3) to his 11th start of the season, in which he may have thrown his best game since defeating Lousiana State. Marcello went seven innings, allowed only two hits and struck out eight batters. It was only his third start of the season where he pitched through the seventh inning. It was also his second highest pitch total of the season, and his highest strikeout number as well. Jamie Nunn gave up one hit in the final two innings to complete the shutout.

Appalachian’s six runs were manufactured by familiar players, most especially the top of the lineup. Eight of the Mountaineers twelve hits came from its top four batters. For the first time all season, Brandon Burris batted in the second spot in the lineup and made the most of it. Burris was 2/3 with four RBI. Hector Crespo went 3/5 with a double, two runs, one stolen base and an RBI. Will Callaway was 2/5 with a run and a stolen base. Daniel Kassouf, Tyler Tewell and Jeremy Dowdy all added hits.

With the sweep, Applachian held onto its lead in the conference standings and also increased its lead with Charleston losing a game to Western Carolina. Charleston only has one SoCon series remaining, but play out of conference for the next two weeks. With three fewer losses than the rest of the conference, Appalachian controls its own destiny.

SoCon Standings

Appalachian       16-5

Charleston          19-8

Samford         16-8

Elon        16-8

WCU      11-10

GSU        11-10

Appalachian State Baseball (25-9, 10-5 SoCon) vs. Eastern Kentucky (16-17, 8-4 OVC)

Eastern Kentucky has been through an up and down season that has been filled with streaks of winning and losing. After winning three of their first four games, the Colonels went on to lose their next 6 games before winning their next seven games. Since then, they have won two and lost two. During their six game losing streak the Colonels averaged three runs per game. In their seven game winning streak, they averaged 8.8 runs per game. The offense has tailed off some in the last week, but they are still scoring 7 runs per games in the last four games, which works out to 8.2 runs per game their last 11 contests. In turn, eight of those last eleven games were at home in Richmond, Ky. The Colonels have several common opponents with the Mountaineers. EKU won two games out of three over East Tennessee State and Wofford. The Colonels split two games with UNC-Greensboro.

The recent four game road stretch was brutal to the Mountaineers. After gaining their highest ranking in school history, the Mountaineers faltered to a 1-3 week. The week saw the team batting average fall from .311 to .308 on the season. Just a couple weeks ago, Appalachian had two players above .400 on the season, and a third hitting just below that level. Currently, four Mountaineers are batting between .377 and .396 on the season. Daniel Kassouf continues his run for the SoCon triple crown. Kassouf is batting .337 with 13 homers and 41 RBI’s, which is good enough for seventh, second and second in the league, respectively.

Predicting the starting pitchers for this week should be fun. Jamie Nunn has pitched three straight weekends and still made his normal Tuesday start for Appalachian. Jeffrey Springs was the Wednesday starter when Appalachian was playing two midweek games a week. This will be the first week with two midweek games since March 13-14 when the Mountaineers played Duke and South Carolina. Eastern Kentucky has not played one midweek game since March 27th when they defeated Marshall 10-3. The Colonels used nine pitchers in that game and everyone threw exactly one inning. In a two game midweek series against UNC-Greensboro and Indiana, the Colonels used Blake Bottoms and Cody Creamer.

UPDATE: Tuesday game was rained out. Doubleheader scheduled for Wednesday.

UPDATE Wednesday 11:26 AM: Doubleheader cancelled due to rain.

Appalachian State Basketball: 2/21/2012 Updated SoCon North Standings

The only game in the Southern Conference on Tuesday night was Wofford visiting UNC-Greensboro. Wofford is the one team I cannot figure out. After getting smacked around by Charleston Southern on the road in the BracketBusters, they easily take care of the Spartans in the Greensboro Coliseum, defeating them 68-56. After winning its previous three road games, UNCG lost at Georgia Southern this past Saturday, and has now lost by 12 at home after defeating Charleston by fifteen points in its previous home game. Appalachian visits The Citadel tomorrow in the only Wednesday SoCon game.

UNCG      10-7       @Elon

Elon             8-8      @Dav, UNCG

Samford       8-8     @WCU, @UTC

App St          7-9     @Cit, @WCU

WCU             6-10   Sam, App St


Appalachian State Basketball: Appalachian vs. Wofford 2/11/2012 Postgame and Appalachian vs. Chattanooga 2/15/2012 Pregame

Appalachian lost to Wofford 66-64 on a cold and snowy Saturday in Boone. With the loss, Appalachian has been eliminated from winning the SoCon North Division. However, all is not lost on the season. The second seed in the SoCon Tournament is still up for grabs, but the Mountaineers must win and get some help from Samford and Elon. Applachian hosts Chattanooga on Wednesday while Elon and Samford but have tough tests on the road. Chattanooga still has not won a road game this season. Appalachian lost a heartbreaker to Chattanooga in January with the Mocs hitting a late layup after costly possession by Appalachian where Omar Carter shot too early in the shot clock. The game clock and shot clock were almost synced while Carter shot a long three pointer with 9 seconds left on the shot clock. The rebound was long and Chattanooga picked up the ball and sprinted the distance for the go ahead layup. A very similar scenraio nearly played out this past Saturday as the Mountaineers had a baseline inbound with just over four seconds remaining in the game. Carter received the inbound and immediately took an off balalanced shot that fell short.

SoCon North Standings

UNCG          9-5

Elon          8-6

Samford         7-7

App St          6-9

UTC          4-10

WCU         4-10

Appalachian State Basketball: Appalachian vs. Wofford 2/11/2012 Pre-Game

Previously on a six game win streak, Wofford has now lost three games in a row, while Appalachian broke their own three game losing streak with a road win at Furman. In addition to the Appalachian win, league leading Elon lost on the road to SoCon North celler dweller Chattanooga. UNC-Greensboro also came back on the road to defeat Samford. That puts UNCG and Elon in a tie for the SoCon North lead at 8-5 while Samford is 2 games back in third and Appalachian is 2.5 games back in fourth place. This brings up a critical game on the schedule tomorrow afternoon when Wofford comes to to Boone.

Appalachian was led by GJ Vilarino’s career high 13 points and 9 rebounds while Mike Neal also contributed a career high with 18 points and 5 rebounds. Neal was 12/14 from the free throw line while Omar Carter chipped in 8 points and 7 rebounds. Ike Butts, Nathan Healy and Andre Williamson all fouled out for the Mountaineers.

During the three game losing streak for Wofford, they lost control of second place in the SoCon South, while Georgia Southern has vaulted to 10-4 in conference play with a two game lead over the Terriers. Elon visits Samford tomorrow while UNCG hosts Chattanooga.


SOCON North Standings

Elon           8-5

UNCG       8-5

Samford    6-7

App St        6-8

UTC            4-9

WCU           4-9