No. 8/9 Wofford scored 14 points in a 70-second span of the fourth quarter to defeat No. 13/11 Appalachian State University, 38-28, on Saturday afternoon at Kidd Brewer Stadium. The loss snapped a four-game winning streak
for Appalachian State (5-3, 3-2 SoCon) and took the Mountaineers out of control of their own destiny in the race for a seventh Southern Conference championship in eight years. Wofford (6-1, 4-1 SoCon), which won at Kidd Brewer Stadium for the first time since 2002, remained in the thick of the SoCon title chase, a half-game behind No. 3 Georgia Southern ( 6-1, 5-1 SoCon).
"For one reason or another we just didn't get it done in the fashion that you got to go do it," said ASU coach Jerry Moore. "The fumble and the missed field goal; those are emotional issues in a game changing environment."
Appalachian took a 28-24 lead on Tony Washington’s (High Point, N.C./T.W. Andrews) 99-yard kickoff return for a touchdown with 4:54 to go in the third quarter but Wofford responded with an 11-play, 75-yard drive and retook a 31-28 advantage on Eric Breitenstein’s second one-yard touchdown of the afternoon on the first play of the final period.
The momentum swung firmly in Wofford’s direction just 1:10 later when defensive end Tarek Odom scored on a controversial 40-yard fumble return to stretch the Terriers’ advantage to 38-28. On the play in question, video replays show that Appalachian State quarterback Jamal Jackson (Atlanta, Ga./North Atlanta) threw the ball several yards into the ground while trying to escape the grasp of a pair of Wofford defenders. However, Southern Conference officials announced that their ruling was that Jackson’s arm was not going forward in a throwing motion and the back-breaking touchdown stood.
"It's one of those games that I guarantee you, I'm going to cherish," said Wofford coach Mike Ayers. "Not many times we come up here, matter of fact a lot of times we come up here we get blown out the park, but I thought our coaches did a great job as far as prep and we had to use a lot of guys, there were some guys that got banged up but we felt going in that we could compete with them."
Three series later, the Mountaineers suffered their second tough break of the fourth quarter but this time, the misfortune was of their own doing, as Drew Stewart (Gastonia, N.C./North Gaston) pulled a chip-shot 24-yard field goal wide left with 5:05 to go in the ballgame. Stewart’s third-straight missed field goal came after Appalachian drove 79 yards in 14 plays and kept the Mountaineers’ deficit at 10 points.
Appalachian got the ball back with 2:46 to go and drove inside the 10 yard line but, needing two scores to tie or take the lead instead of just one following to the disputed fumble call, the drive stalled as time expired.
"Huge. Huge, instead of them making a field goal and potentially doing an onside kick and worrying about all the things that go with that, we had the ball in our hands and the opportunity to run some clock off which we could of finished it with our offense," Ayers said. "With that being said it was a great game, it was a great game. If you didn't like this one, you don't like football."
"It's a lot of weight off your shoulders, App State is a great team and have been for three or four years and to come up here and beat them at home," said Breitenstein, who scored two touchdowns, "I think they have the best home record of anybody in the conference cause they don't lose at home. To come up here and get the job done and especially being from right up here, it feels really good."
The Mountaineers struggled offensively for much of the day and were held to a season-low 363 yards but remained in the game due to a pair of non-offensive touchdowns. In addition to Washington’s 99-yard kickoff return in the third quarter, Appalachian also got a 47-yard fumble return by sophomore Joel Ross (Damascus, Md./Damascus) that put the Apps on the board in the second period.
Defensively, the Mountaineers held Wofford’s high-powered triple-option offense in check for much of the afternoon but were done in by big plays. Two-hundred-and-44 of the Terriers’ 440 yards came on just seven plays (34.9 yards per play) while their remaining 60 snaps netted just 3.3 yards per play. Breitenstein, Wofford’s stocky all-America fullback, finished with a game-high 123 yards on 24 rushes, but outside of a 57-yard burst in the first quarter, the Boone native managed just 66 yards on his remaining 23 carries (2.9 avg.).
Jeremy Kimbrough (Decatur, Ga./Cedar Grove) led Appalachian’s defensive effort with a season-high 15 tackles while Ronald Blair (Greensboro, Ga./Greene County) and Karl Anderson (Pilot Point, Texas/Pilot Point) each added a career-high 10.
"We held the offense in check for most of it, but in the end it didn't really matter because they made so many big plays," Kimbrough said. "They got on the goal line and were able to punch it in. So we just made a couple of mistakes and it turned out bad for us."
Jackson led the Mountaineers on offense with 289 yards of total offense (257 passing, 32 rushing) but was plagued by several drops by his receivers and did not throw a touchdown pass for the first time in five games. Washington, Andrew Peacock (Durham, N.C./North Durham) and Sean Price (Reston, Va./South Lakes) each had seven receptions and Steven Miller (Piscataway, N.J./Piscataway) rushed for 68 yards and a touchdown.
"To start the game it was sloppy, just like last week," Jackson said. "It's the little things that put us in the situation we don't want to be in. The little things shouldn't determine the game. We put ourselves in a bad predicament. "We're going to move on and move on to the next opponent. We can't worry about what other teams are going to do. We just have to win now and play good."
Appalachian now hits the road for two-straight weeks, beginning with next Saturday’s annual Battle for the Old Mountain Jug at Western Carolina. Kickoff is set for 3:30 p.m. at E.J. Whitmire Stadium in Cullowhee, N.C. Coverage begins at 1:30 p.m. on the IMG/Appalachian Sports Network and locally on AM 1450, WATA radio.
NOTES: Appalachian State has lost two home games in a season for the first time since 2002 ... the Mountaineers dropped to 17-9 in their last 26 games against top-10 teams ... Appalachian fell to 12-3 all-time at home against Wofford ... Jackson became the eighth player in Appalachian State history with 5,000 yards of total offense, finishing the day with 5,032 total yards ... Washington’s touchdown was Appalachian’s first on a kickoff return since CoCo Hillary’s 95-yard return for a score at Wofford on Sept. 22, 2007 ... the 99-yard return was the second-longest in Appalachian history, behind only Keith Nash’s school-record 100-yarder at Lenoir-Rhyne on Oct. 12, 1968 ... Ross’ touchdown was his second in as many weeks — the sophomore returned an interception 17 yards to paydirt last Saturday at Samford...Appalachian State (5-3, 3-2 SoCon) had a four-game winning streak snapped with its first home loss to Wofford (6-1, 4-1 SoCon) since 2002....Appalachian State’s two home losses this season are its most since 2002....Junior Tony Washington’s 99-yard kickoff return for a touchdown that gave Appalachian State a 28-24 lead in the third quarter was the first kickoff return for a touchdown by a Mountaineer since CoCo Hillary’s 95-yard touchdown return at Wofford on Sept. 22, 2007....The 99-yard kickoff return was the second-longest in Appalachian State history and the longest since Keith Nash’s school-record 100-yard touchdown return at Lenoir-Rhyne on Oct. 12, 1968....With 363 yards of total offense, Appalachian State junior quarterback Jamal Jackson moved into the top 10 in Appalachian State history in career total offense. His 5,032 yards of total offense now rank eighth in school history....Appalachian State sophomore defensive back Joe Ross scored his second touchdown in two weeks on a 47-yard fumble return in the second quarter. Ross scored on a 17-yard interception return during last Saturday’s 28-25 win at Samford.
Score by Quarters 1 2 3 4 Total
Wofford College 7 10 7 14 - 38
Appalachian State 0 14 14 0 - 28
04:20 WOF - Brian Kass 1 yd run (Kasey Redfern kick), 6-72 2:48 7 - 0
11:39 WOF - Kasey Redfern 29 yd field goal, 12-60 6:31 10 - 0
07:39 APP - Joel Ross 47 yd fumble recovery (Drew Stewart kick) 10 - 7
05:25 WOF - Eric Breitenstein 1 yd run (Kasey Redfern kick), 5-50 2:14 17 - 7
00:54 APP - Steven Miller 12 yd run (Drew Stewart kick), 13-75 4:31 17 - 14
09:15 APP - Jamal Jackson 1 yd run (Drew Stewart kick), 9-61 3:18 17 - 21
05:08 WOF - Cam Flowers 5 yd run (Kasey Redfern kick), 9-75 4:07 24 - 21
04:54 APP - Tony Washington 99 yd kickoff return (Drew Stewart kick) 24 - 28
14:58 WOF - Eric Breitenstein 1 yd run (Kasey Redfern kick), 11-75 4:56 31 - 28
13:48 WOF - Tarek Odom 40 yd fumble recovery (Kasey Redfern kick) 38 - 28
FIRST DOWNS: WOFFORD 17, ASU 26
RUSHING YARDS: WOFFORD 393, ASU 106
PASSING YARDS: WOFFORD 47, ASU 257
TOTAL YARDS: WOFFORD 440, ASU 363
FUMBLES: NUMBER/LOST: WOFFORD 2-1, ASU 3-1
TURNOVERS: WOFFORD 1, ASU 2
PENALTY YARDS: WOFFORD 5-31, ASU 4-50
TIME OF POSSESSION: WOFFORD 32:01, ASU 27:59
3RD DOWN CONVERSIONS: WOFFORD 4-14, ASU 7-16
4RH DOWN CONVERSIONS: WOFFORD 2-2, ASU 3-4
WOFFORD: BREITENSTEIN 24-123-2TD, WEIMER 7-77, KASS 12-73-TD
ASU: MILLER 19-68-TD
WOFFORD: WEIMER 2-2-9, KASS 1-2-38
ASU: JACKSON 29-46-INT-257
WOFFORD: YOUMAN 1-38
ASU: WASHINGTON 7-75, PEACOCK 7-55, PRICE 7-53, MILLER 4-38
Photo Courtesy: Tony Washington, ASU Athletics