Mountaineers Overcome Elon Offensive Records, 35-23
By David Rogers. October 6, 2012. BOONE -- Appalachian State’s Jeremy Kimbrough, Jamill Lott, and Demetrius McCray combined for three interceptions Saturday at Kidd-Brewer Stadium, thwarting a career performance by Elon University’s senior QB Thomas Wilson and his high-octane offense. On the strength of turnovers and adjustments, the Mountaineers prevailed, 35-23.
Photos by Keith Cline, David Scearce and Skip Sickler for Blowing Rock News (click thumbnails to enlarge)
Junior QB Jamal Jackson – SoCon’s Offensive Player of the Month for September – was 20-29 passing for 304 yards and four TDs vs. one interception, and added 94 yards rushing and one TD, to lead the Appalachian offense.
For the Phoenix, Wilson’s 419 yards on 24-41 passing, including three TDs, was a career best. His favorite target, senior wide receiver Aaron Mellette, accounted for 237 yards of that offensive real estate, the third game of his career in which he surpassed 200 yards receiving. He was on the receiving end of all three Wilson TD tosses.
In front of 29,073 Mountaineer “Homecoming” fans – the 44th consecutive over-capacity crowd during the regular season – AppState opened the game being mostly dominated by Elon, and on both sides of the ball. Offensively and defensively, The Phoenix controlled the line of scrimmage.
Pre-season All-American McCray told reporters afterwards that Elon’s offense posed a particularly difficult challenge for the Mountaineer defenders. “The great receiver they have (Mellette), he is really tough to defend. It was really a battle out there…but we came out on top with the ‘W’.”
McCray reported that the ASU defensive unit expected at some point to see the “slant and go” play that led to his third quarter interception. “Once I saw he wasn’t going for the slant, I knew it was going to be a slant and go….I think it was a good pass. I just picked it off.”
The third quarter interception by the senior from Covington, Georgia came just after Jackson had found junior WR Andrew Peacock for a 25 yard pass down the left sideline that left Appalachian leading for the second time, 21-17. By disrupting Elon’s potential scoring drive, McCray’s interception was the turning point in what, to that point, had been a see-saw battle -- mostly favoring The Phoenix.
Early Elon Dominance
On its opening offensive series, Wilson led Elon smartly downfield, appearing to own both the line of scrimmage and the secondary. In eight plays, Wilson’s Phoenix reeled off 75 yards and took 3:24 off the clock, culminating with an 11-yard Wilson-to-Mellette TD pass.
After ASU went three-and-out, Elon came right back and threatened again, getting the ball to the ASU two-yard line after a Wilson-to-Mellette 44-yard completion. At risk of going 14 down with only 6:30 gone in the game, the Mountaineer defense held and forced The Phoenix into a field goal attempt. A “good” Adam Schreiner field goal was negated by a false start, and the Mountaineers breathed a sigh of relief when his second attempt, from five yards further back after the penalty, sailed wide right.
Schreiner had made eight field goals in a row leading up to his 25-yard missed chip shot.
Jackson and the Mountaineer offense again went three and out, and it began to look like the High Country hosts were digging themselves the type of early game “hole” that has had disastrous consequences in other games this season, particularly against The Citadel.
“We thought we could run at the inside zone,” ASU head coach Jerry Moore told reporters in the post-game news conference, “and be effective with it…but we weren’t very successful…They are pretty darn good. Their defense plays hard. But that was why we had some problems moving the ball early…We would like to be very balanced, but in being balanced we would like to run the football. So we got a little stubborn in us as far as that (attacking the inside zone) is concerned, too.”
Thankfully for the Mountaineer faithful, ASU’s coaching braintrust overcame its stubbornness in attacking the inside zone on first down – a strategy that was not working – and the SoCon’s #2 ranked passing offense kicked into gear with crisp, short passes chewing off chunks of yardage for Appalachian State. Until that point, ASU labored to pick up yards, even on their scoring drives, while Elon was mostly moving the ball with ease.
Midway through the second period, just when it looked like the Mountaineers were starting to gain the upper hand, Elon’s sophomore DB Miles Williams stepped in front of a Jackson pass at the goal line, and returned it 20 yards.
On the ensuing offensive series, Elon’s Wilson targeted three different receivers, handed off to RB Karl Bostick, and scrambled twice on the ground himself before Kimbrough picked off what looked like it was going to be another TD pass at the goal line, returning the pigskin 30 yards.
While Appalachian could not shut down the often electric Elon offense (#1 passing offense in SoCon), they matched The Phoenix in offensive output in the third quarter, with McCray’s interception critical to the home team’s narrow, 21-17 lead after three quarters of play.
In the fourth quarter, ASU took control as Jackson laced a 23-yard pass completion to running back Steven Miller, who gathered the ball on the dead run without breaking stride before sprinting into the end zone.
Elon came right back to narrow the Mountaineer advantage to 28-23, but Jackson and senior RB Rod Chisholm teamed to chew up yards and the clock, with Jackson scoring from one yard out to extend the lead to 35-23 with less than eight minutes remaining.
To end the game, Sam Martin attempted a 61 yard field goal, that fell just short.
“There was only eight seconds on the clock,” Moore explained to reporters about the thinking behind the field goal attempt. “It had no bearing on the game. A block would not have hurt us, other than pride, and he (Martin) has kicked the ball 64-65 yards in practice. So I thought well, at least we are going to give him an opportunity. He is a senior, and a good kicker. He said (later) that the ball was straight, but just short, so he probably didn’t hit the ball as solid as he might have. We weren’t really try to score, as much as we were just trying to give him a shot at something like that. He’s worked hard, and it was the perfect situation. It had no bearing on the game. If it had been (just before) the half, I would have really had to consider it because they could have (potentially) blocked it and scored. So I let him kick it.”
In response to a question by Blowing Rock News about whether he would have expected to win after giving up Wilson’s career personal best in passing yards and Mellette’s third 200-yard game of his career, Moore admitted, “Not really, but that is what they (Elon) do. That is what they are good at….I don’t like it when anybody gets 500 yards (515 yards of total offense) on us, but the thing that hurts you as a team is to be standing on the sideline and to have (your opponent) make big plays. Philosophically, I don’t mind those guys catching the ball as long as we get good licks on ‘em."
In his opening remarks, Moore noted, "Elon is a good football team. They are one of the best teams we have played this year. They are very good at throwing the ball, and it is about as good as you can get. I have great respect for (head coach) Jason Swepson and what he has done there at Elon....They are going to win some games. Everybody that has to play them has got to watch out.”
Moore told reporters that the comeback victory over Elon left him optimistic about the season, overall. "We have five tough football games left," the veteran mentor explained. "Games like this are good for us. If we can overcome (early deficits) in these games, it shows we have some pretty good stuff."
The Career That Wasn’t
In his opening statement, the smiling Coach Moore shared with reporters an interesting personal story:
“When I was in about 4th or 5th grade,” he recalled, “at the little grade school I went to they had an assembly program one night, with all these band instruments and shiny horns and all that stuff.
“So I went home,” he continued, “and told my Mom I want to be in the band. We probably didn’t have the money to buy an instrument, as I look back now. So she said, ‘We’ll do that next year.’”
Smiling, he concluded, “Every time I get in a game like this, I think: if my mother would have had $18 (when I was in the 4th or 5th grade), I’d be in Carnegie Hall right now instead of talking to you guys!”
Miscellaneous Game Notes
- With its third straight win, ASU moved to 4-2 overall and 2-1 in conference play
- Elon dropped to 2-4 overall and 0-3 in SoCon
- All three of Elon’s losses have come at the hands of teams ranked in the NCAA Division I Football Championship Series (FCS) “Top 15.” (Georgia Southern, Wofford, and Appalachian State)
- Appalachian won its 10th straight “Homecoming” game
- ASU won for the 65th time in its last 71 home games
- ASU won for the 50th time in its last 57 SoCon games
- Junior QB Jamal Jackson recorded the third 300-yard passing game of his young career and the 41st in ASU history.
- With his 304 yards passing vs. Elon, Jackson moved into ninth all-time at ASU. He started the day at 11th, but moved ahead of current assistant head coach and offensive coordinator Scott Satterfield (3,504 yards between 1992 and 1995) and Bake Baker (3,538 yards from 1994 to 1997)
- Jackson’s 94 rushing yards were a career high
- Senior RB Steven Miller’s five receptions, 97 receiving yards, and two TD receptions were all career highs
- Junior Tony Washington’s 54-yard TD catch with 1:01 to go in the first half was the longest of his career.
- Senior Demetrius McCray’s third quarter interception was the ninth of his career, which is tied for 8th among all active NCAA Division I FCS players
|Score by Quarters||1||2||3||4||Score|
|SCORING SUMMARY||ELON -APP|
|1st||11:41||ELON||Aaron Mellette 11 yd pass from Thomas Wilson (Adam Shreiner kick)|
|8 plays, 75 yards, TOP 3:19||7 - 0|
|2nd||14:19||APP||Steven Miller 5 yd pass from Jamal Jackson (Drew Stewart kick)|
|15 plays, 81 yards, TOP 6:13||7 - 7|
|10:59||ELON||Adam Shreiner 29 yd field goal|
|7 plays, 63 yards, TOP 3:20||10 - 7|
|01:01||APP||Tony Washington 54 yd pass from Jamal Jackson (Drew Stewart kick)|
|2 plays, 64 yards, TOP 0:25||10 - 14|
|3rd||10:18||ELON||Aaron Mellette 59 yd pass from Thomas Wilson (Adam Shreiner kick)|
|7 plays, 82 yards, TOP 3:00||17 - 14|
|03:49||APP||Andrew Peacock 25 yd pass from Jamal Jackson (Drew Stewart kick)|
|6 plays, 93 yards, TOP 2:24||17 - 21|
|4th||12:47||APP||Steven Miller 23 yd pass from Jamal Jackson (Drew Stewart kick)|
|2 plays, 39 yards, TOP 0:21||17 - 28|
|11:26||ELON||Aaron Mellette 35 yd pass from Thomas Wilson (Thomas Wilson pass failed)|
|4 plays, 75 yards, TOP 1:21||23 - 28|
|07:52||APP||Jamal Jackson 1 yd run (Drew Stewart kick)|
|7 plays, 62 yards, TOP 3:28||23 - 35|
|Kickoff time: 3:36 pm • End of Game: 6:39 pm • Total elapsed time: 3:03
Referee: Ted Pitts • Umpire: Ernie Hamilton • Linesman: Chris Conway • Line judge: Seth Bussey • Back judge: Scott Prewitt • Field judge: Mark Brookes • Side judge: Michael Crowley • Scorer: Megan Samassa •
Temperature: 59 • Wind: 13W • Weather: Cloudy
|NET YARDS RUSHING||96||195|
|Average Per Rush||3.1||4.8|
|Yards Gained Rushing||116||234|
|Yards Lost Rushing||20||39|
|NET YARDS PASSING||419||304|
|Average Per Attempt||10.2||10.5|
|Average Per Completion||16.8||15.2|
|TOTAL OFFENSE YARDS||515||499|
|Total offense plays||72||70|
|Average Gain Per Play||7.2||7.1|
|Average Yards Per Punt||40.8||43.5|
|Net Yards Per Punt||40.4||40.5|
|Average Yards Per Kickoff||61.4||62.5|
|Net Yards Per Kickoff||40.8||37.5|
|Punt returns: Number-Yards-TD||3-18-0||2-2-0|
|Average Per Return||6.0||1.0|
|Kickoff returns: Number-Yds-TD||0-0-0||3-63-0|
|Average Per Return||0.0||21.0|
|Fumble Returns: Number-Yds-TD||0-0-0||0-0-0|
|Third-Down Conversions||6 of 15||5 of 15|
|Fourth-Down Conversions||0 of 1||2 of 2|
|Sacks By: Number-Yards||2-14||4-14|
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