Appalachian State University, ranked 15th in the FCS Coaches Poll and 16th in The Sports Network Poll, jumped out to a commanding 38-13 lead and cruised to a 38-27 win over archrival Western Carolina on Saturday afternoon at E.J.
Whitmire Stadium. Appalachian State (6-3, 4-2 SoCon) retained possession of the Old Mountain Jug, the traveling trophy awarded to the winner of the annual meeting between the longtime rivals, with its eighth-straight victory and 26th triumph in the last 28 years over Western Carolina (1-8, 0-7 SoCon).
The story of the day was Appalachian quarterback Logan Hallock (Ferguson, N.C./West Wilkes), who entered the game in place of injured starter Jamal Jackson (Atlanta, Ga./North Atlanta) in the first quarter and completed the first 20 passes of his career, helping the Mountaineers stretch an early 10-0 lead to a commanding 38-13 advantage when he found tight end Drew Bailey (Spartanburg, S.C./Dorman) for a 16-yard touchdown pass on the first play of the fourth quarter.
Hallock, whose only two previous plays as a college quarterback came when he handed off twice to close out Appalachian’s 55-14 win over Coastal Carolina on Sept. 29, finished 230 yards on 20-of-21 passing and two touchdowns. His sterling .952 completion percentage set a school record, breaking the previous mark of .895 (17-19) set by Armanti Edwards in a 70-24 win over Wofford in 2008.
"Logan's dad is a football coach in Wilkesboro (at West Wilkes High) and he comes from a football family," said ASU coach Jerry Moore. "He wants to be a coach himself one day. I don't know why, but he knows the game. And he's always well prepared. He's a great young man, and he leads our bible study."
"I'm always watching the first team with Jamal at practice," Hallock said. "And I'm always listening to what (assistant coach/offensive coordinator) Scott Satterfield and the other coaches have to say. And Jamal is so helpful. He's a true leader. He talked to me today, and it was comforting. He gave me some pointers, and what reads I should look for. It was a good experience for me."
Not to be overshadowed by Hallock’s unlikely starring role was the performance turned in by senior running back Steven Miller (Piscataway, N.J./Piscataway), who set career highs with 245 rushing yards and 34 carries in the smashmouth victory. In the process, Miller became only the 12th running back in Appalachian State history to eclipse the 1,000-yard rushing plateau in a season, finishing the day with 1,077 yards on the campaign, and the first since Devon Moore in 2009.
"I'm thankful for the pats on the back and all that," Miller said. "But there have been some great players in this program over the years. I just want to focus on what I need to do. We have a big game next week against Georgia Southern, and it's going to be a dogfight."
Freshman wide receiver Sean Price (Reston, Va./South Lakes) also helped Hallock’s cause, matching his own Appalachian State freshman record with 10 receptions for a career-high 142 yards and a back-breaking 18-yard touchdown catch on the Mountaineers’ final offensive play of the first half that gave Appalachian a 24-7 halftime lead.
In addition the efforts of the offensive trio of Hallock, Miller and Price, it was Appalachian’s stifling defense that helped the Mountaineers dominate the action for most of the game. Appalachian did not allow Western Carolina to register its first first down of the ballgame until only 3:44 remained in the first half and held a commanding 484-167 advantage in total yardage after three quarters. The Catamounts made it interesting with a pair of fourth-quarter touchdowns to pull within two scores at 38-27 but the Apps forced an interception and a turnover on downs on WCU’s final two possessions to seal the victory.
"i'm proud of our team," Moore said. "But I'm not real happy with our effort in the second half. We made a lot of mistakes. If this was a closer game, those mistakes could have cost us the ball game. We have to do a better job of controlling our emotions. Mistakes like we made in the second half could really hurt us next week against Georgia Southern."
In all, Appalachian’s defense forced five three-and-outs and allowed only 316 yards of total offense, nearly 50 yards fewer than the Catamounts’ season average of 365.8 coming in to the afternoon. The Mountaineers sacked WCU freshman quarterback Troy Mitchell seven times, good for the Apps’ highest sack total since they also recorded seven against Jacksonville in 2008, and tallied a season-high-tying nine tackles for loss.
"Mark Speir is a great man, and an excellent coach," Moore said. "He's been around a lot of good coaches in his career, and he was here (in the early '90's), when this program was winning football games. Mark is the right man for this job. It's going to take time. He has to go through an off-season, a summer of workouts, and another season. It will come together for him. He's all ready done a good job improving this team."
Filling in for injured weakside linebacker Brandon Grier (Charlotte, N.C./West Charlotte), Karl Anderson (Pilot Point, Texas/Pilot Point) led the Mountaineers with a career-high-tying 10 tackles. Senior middle linebacker Jeremy Kimbrough (Decatur, Ga./Cedar Grove) added nine tackles and set career highs with three sacks and 3.5 tackles for loss.
Appalachian hits the road again for a pivotal Southern Conference matchup at first-place and No. 2-ranked Georgia Southern. Kickoff is set for 2 p.m. at Paulson Stadium in Statesboro, Ga.
"We knew it and Georgia Southern knew it before the season began," said Moore. "This is always a big game on our schedule and in our conference. And Jamal will be back. We just have to avoid making the mistakes we made today in the second half."
"I always circle this game on the schedule every year," Kimbrough said.
NOTES: Appalachian State moved to 24-1 in its last 25 games immediately following a same-season loss ... since the third week of the 2003 campaign, the only time that the Mountaineers have lost consecutive games in the same season was when it opened 2009 with back-to-back setbacks to East Carolina and McNeese State ... Jackson was cleared to return to action in the second half but Appalachian State’s coaches elected to not put him back in the game ... Jackson is officially listed as day-to-day ... Anderson and right guard Tucker Lee (Pinehurst, N.C./Pinecrest) both made their first-career starts ... Appalachian moved to 58-18-1 all-time against its Western Carolina, including a 30-7 edge since the inception of the Old Mountain Jug in 1976....Appalachian State (6-3, 4-2 SoCon) remained in the Southern Conference championship hunt with its win over archrival Western Carolina (1-8, 0-7 SoCon)....Appalachian State defeated Western Carolina for the eighth-straight year and 26th time in the last 28 years....Appalachian State moved to 58-18-1 all-time against its longtime rival, including a 30-7 edge since the inception of the Old Mountain Jug (the traveling trophy presented to the winner of the game each season) in 1976....Western Carolina did not get its first down of the ballgame until there was 3:44 to go in the first half....Sophomore Logan Hallock, who came into the game in the first quarter in place of starter Jamal Jackson (knee injury) completed 20-of-21 passes for 230 yards and two touchdowns....Hallock, whose only previous collegiate experience at the quarterback position was two snaps in the waning minutes of Appalachian State's 55-14 win over Coastal Carolina on Sept. 29, completed the first 20 pass attempts of his career on Saturday afternoon....Jackson was cleared to return to action by Appalachian State's medical staff but Appalachian's coaching staff elected to keep him off the field for the remainder of the game....Senior Steven Miller became Appalachian State's first 1,000-yard rusher since Devon Moore in 2009, finishing the day with 1,077 yards on the season. Miller is the 12th player in Appalachian State history with 1,000 rushing yards in a season....Miller's 245 rushing yards were a career high (prev.: 202 vs. Coastal Carolina on Sept. 29)....Freshman Sean Price matched his own Appalachian State freshman record with 10 pass receptions (also had 10 in 34-17 win at Chattanooga on Sept. 22)....Price also had the fourth 100-yard receiving game of his career, extending his own school record for 100-yard receiving games by a freshman. Prior to Price, no Mountaineer freshman had ever had more than one 100-yard receiving game.
Score by Quarters 1 2 3 4 Total
Appalachian State 10 14 7 7 - 38
Western Carolina 0 7 6 14 - 27
13:25 APP - Tony Washington 32 yd pass from Jamal Jackson (Sam Martin kick), 5-71 1:35 7 - 0
08:06 APP - Sam Martin 28 yd field goal, 7-63 3:10 10 - 0
04:35 APP - Steven Miller 4 yd run (Sam Martin kick), 8-79 3:07 17 - 0
03:44 WCU - Deja Alexander 74 yd pass from Troy Mitchell (Richard Sigmon kick), 3-75 0:51 17 - 7
00:05 APP - Sean Price 18 yd pass from Logan Hallock (Sam Martin kick), 9-85 3:32 24 - 7
12:02 WCU - Troy Mitchell 27 yd run (Richard Sigmon kick failed), 8-75 2:58 24 - 13
04:23 APP - Tony Washington 17 yd run (Sam Martin kick), 8-41 3:58 31 - 13
14:55 APP - Drew Bailey 16 yd pass from Logan Hallock (Sam Martin kick), 6-73 2:40 38 - 13
11:12 WCU - Michael Johnson 1 yd run (Troy Mitchell rush), 9-47 3:32 38 - 21
08:52 WCU - Troy Mitchell 40 yd run (Troy Mitchell pass failed), 4-67 0:47 38 - 27
FIRST DOWNS: ASU 28, WCU 14
RUSHING YARDS: ASU 285, WCU 149
PASSING YARDS: ASU 294, WCU 167
TOTAL YARDS: ASU 579, WCU 316
FUMBLES: NUMBER/LOST: ASU 1-1, WCU 1-0
TURNOVERS: ASU 1, WCU 1
PENALTY YARDS: ASU 10-77, ASU 3-26
POSSESSION TIME: ASU 36:51, WCU 23:09
3RD DOWN CONVERSIONS: ASU 8-15, WCU 3-11
4TH DOWN CONVERSIONS: ASU 0-1, WCU 1-2
ASU: MILLER 34-245-2TD
WCU: MITCHELL 17-91-2TD
ASU: HALLOCK 20-21-230-2TD
ASU: PRICE 10-142-TD, PEACOCK 7-68
WCU: ALEXANDER 2-82
Photo Courtesy: Logan Hallock, ASU Athletics