Led by record-breaking performances from wide receiver Brian Quick (Columbia, S.C./Ridge View) and place kicker Drew Stewart
(Gastonia, N.C./North Gaston), No. 10/8 Appalachian State University routed visiting Western Carolina, 46-14, on Saturday afternoon at Kidd Brewer Stadium. Quick became Appalachian’s all-time leading receiver with a seven-catch, 111-yard performance and Stewart set school records by kicking six field goals and scoring 22 kicking points in the Mountaineers’ seventh-straight victory over longtime rival WCU. ASU retained the Old Mountain Jug for the 25th time in the last 27 years with the easy triumph.
"I was happy for [Brian] Quick>" said ASU coach Jerry Moore. "We don't talk much about individual accomplishments here, but Brian has been a hard worker and has been a very committed athlete. It has been fun to watch him progress throughout his whole career. I told his mom while we were on the field for senior day that he has come a long way since he was a freshman, and it has been fun to watch his progress and happy to see him break the record."
Appalachian (7-3, 5-2 SoCon) dominated Saturday’s game from the outset but, like in last week’s 20-10 loss at Furman, struggled to capitalize in the red zone early on. The Mountaineers drove inside the WCU 27 yard line on four of their first five possessions but could not push the ball across the goal line, settling for four Stewart field goals to take a 12-0 lead with just over four minutes to play in the first half.
Despite not putting the ball in the end zone on any of its first five series, one of ASU’s greatest offensive highlights in recent memory came on the second play of the second quarter when Quick hauled in a short pass from DeAndre Presley (Tampa, Fla./Middleton), who was spelling starting quarterback Jamal Jackson (Atlanta, Ga./North Atlanta) on the series, and darted upfield for 33 yards to break Appalachian’s 31-year-old career record of 3,124 receiving yards, set by current ASU senior associate athletics director Rick Beasley from 1978-80.
"It was a screen," Quick said. "After they called that, I knew at that time that I would break it. At the same time, I wasn't thinking about breaking it, and that is probably why it happened the way it did. I knew that I was going to break it because we had been practicing it all week, and I had been getting at least 15 yards in practice."
Leading just 12-0 despite a 202-30 advantage in total yardage, the Mountaineers finally found paydirt with 55 seconds to go before halftime when Jackson capped a six-play, 59-yard drive with a two-yard run that would seemingly send ASU into the locker room with a 19-0 lead.
However, on the first play of Western’s ensuing possession, Dominique McDuffie (Chattanooga, Tenn./Red Bank) intercepted WCU’s Brandon Pechloff and returned it 27 yards to the WCU 33 yard line. McDuffie’s first interception of the season came on Pechloff’s first pass after replacing injured starter Zach Brindise and proved to be a turning point in the game when Jackson rumbled into the end zone from 13 yards out three plays later. Jackson’s second touchdown in 43 seconds turned a tenuous 12-0 lead into a commanding 26-0 halftime advantage.
Appalachian struck again shortly after the break when Jackson found Quick for a 28-yard touchdown — the Apps’ third in a 3:59 span — that stretched the Mountaineers’ lead to 33-0 barely three minutes into the second half.
Stewart added two more field goals to up the ASU advantage to 39-0 and end the day for the majority of the Mountaineers’ starters. With a cast of reserves in the game, Western ended Appalachian’s shutout bid with 9:44 to go in the ballgame. The teams swapped touchdowns in the final four minutes to close out the scoring.
ASU’s statistical advantage was even more staggering than the final score would indicate. The Mountaineers set season highs with 32 first downs and 553 yards of offense, racking up 21 more first downs and 317 more yards than the Catamounts. ASU also outrushed WCU by a 241-20 margin and matched a season high with 312 yards through the air. Appalachian also held an astounding 40:28-19:32 advantage in time of possession. The domination was even more thorough before the Apps emptied the bench in the fourth quarter, as they held a 479-76 edge in total yardage through three quarters.
Quick finished with seven catches for 111 yards, upping his ASU-record career total to 3,229 yards, which is also good for fourth in Southern Conference history. Bouncing back from a four-turnover game in last Saturday’s loss at Furman, Jackson completed 22-of-34 passes without an interception for 261 yards and a touchdown while also running 10 times for 48 yards and two scores. The sophomore extended his own school records by passing for at least 200 yards and amassing at least 250 yards of offense in each of the first five starts of his career.
Brandon Grier (Charlotte, N.C./West Charlotte) and Jeremy Kimbrough (Decatur, Ga./Cedar Grove) led the Mountaineers’ staunch defensive effort with nine and five tackles, respectively. Two-and-a-half of Kimbrough’s five stops were behind the line of scrimmage. In addition to McDuffie’s game-changing interception late in the first half, Rodger Walker (Thomasville, Ga./Brookwood) picked off his fourth pass of the season to pull into a tie for the SoCon lead.
Pechloff threw for 188 yards and two touchdowns coming off the bench for Western Carolina (1-9, 0-8 SoCon), although the majority of the damage came after the Mountaineers’ starters were done for the day.
Despite the victory, Appalachian’s quest for an unprecedented seventh-straight SoCon championship came to an end on Saturday when Georgia Southern (9-1, 7-1 SoCon) clinched the outright league title with a 31-10 romp over Wofford. However, with a victory next Saturday at Elon (5-5, 3-4 SoCon), the Mountaineers can clinch no less than a share of second place in the SoCon standings and, likely, a first-round bye and second-round home game in the upcoming NCAA Division I Football Championship. The regular-season finale is set for 3 p.m. at Elon’s Rhodes Stadium.
"It's over with, it's done with [SoCon title]," Jackson said. "Now our goals are set on a national championship and taking it one game at a time. We will enjoy this tomorrow, and then Monday it's time to get focused for Elon. We can't take anybody lightly; we didn't take western lightly. We've got to come out and play our ball and win these games."
NOTES: Appalachian moved to 57-18-1 in 76 all-time meetings with Western Carolina, including a 29-7 record since the inception of the Old Mountain Jug (the rivalry’s traveling trophy) in 1976 ... ASU has won 14-straight home games over WCU, with the Mountaineers’ last home loss to the Catamounts being a 34-7 setback at then-Conrad Stadium on Oct. 6, 1984 ... the ‘84 loss to Western was also Appalachian’s last home loss to an in-state opponent — Saturday’s victory was ASU’s 31st in a row over an in-state foe at home ... the Mountaineers moved to 21-1 in its last 22 games that immediately followed a same-season loss ... since the third week of the 2003 season, ASU has only lost consecutive games in the same campaign once (2009 vs. East Carolina and McNeese State) ... the triumph was ASU’s 17th-straight regular-season home win and 18th-straight SoCon home victory ... Saturday’s attendance of 30,622 was ASU’s highest of the season and the fourth-highest in Kidd Brewer Stadium history ... it also marked the 40th-straight regular-season game that attendance was over-capacity at The Rock (current capacity: 23,150), dating to the beginning of the 2005 season ... on the same play that Quick broke Beasley’s career yardage record, he matched Beasley for second on Appalachian’s all-time reception list with 178 ... Quick ended the day with 184 career receptions, 16 behind the school record of 200 set by DaVon Fowlkes from 2001-04 ... Quick’s 100-yard game was his sixth of the season (one behind Fowlkes’ record set in 2004) and 12th of his career (four shy of Beasley’s record of 16) ... prior to Stewart’s record-setting day, the school record for field goals in a game was four, last achieved by Jay Millson in a three-overtime game versus Furman in 1991 ... Bjorn Nittmo kicked four field goals in a game three times from 1986-88 ... the ASU record for kick scoring in a game was 15 points, achieved twice by Nittmo (1986 vs. The Citadel and 1988 vs. Gardner-Webb) ... ASU honored its 22 seniors — its largest senior class since 2002 — prior to kickoff.
ASU 46, WCU 14
1 2 3 4 T
Western Carolina 0 0 0 14 - 14
Appalachian St 6 20 10 10 - 46
Appalachian St Field Goal - 44-yarder by Drew Stewart. 11:52 Remaining.
Appalachian St Field Goal - 32-yarder by Drew Stewart. 7:26 Remaining.
Appalachian St Field Goal - 29-yarder by Drew Stewart. 9:37 Remaining.
Appalachian St Field Goal - 21-yarder by Drew Stewart. 4:05 Remaining.
Appalachian St Touchdown - 2-yard run by Jamal Jackson. (Drew Stewart kick) 0:55 Remaining.
Appalachian St Touchdown - 13-yard run by Jamal Jackson. (Drew Stewart kick) 0:08 Remaining.
Appalachian St Touchdown - 28-yard pass from Jamal Jackson to Brian Quick. (Drew Stewart kick) 12:56 Remaining.
Appalachian St Field Goal - 27-yarder by Drew Stewart. 8:01 Remaining.
Appalachian St Field Goal - 24-yarder by Drew Stewart. 12:36 Remaining.
Western Carolina Touchdown - 32-yard pass from Brandon Pechloff to George Richardson. (Clark Sechrest kick) 9:44 Remaining.
Appalachian St Touchdown - Logan Hallock recovered fumble in the end zone. (Zack Pickard kick) 3:58 Remaining.
Western Carolina Touchdown - 54-yard pass from Brandon Pechloff to Nate Stephenson. (Clark Sechrest kick) 3:24 Remaining.
FIRST DOWNS: ASU 32, WCU 11
TOTAL YARDS: ASU 553, WCU 236
RUSHING YARDS: ASU 241, WCU 20
PASSING YARDS: ASU 312, WCU 216
TURNOVERS: ASU 0, WCU 2
PENALTY YARDS: ASU 3-25, WCU 8-64
TIME OF POSSESSION: ASU 40:28, WCU 19:32
3RD DOWN CONVERSIONS: ASU 6-15, WCU 2-12
4TH DOWN CONVERSIONS: ASU 0-1. WCU 1-1
ASU: MILLER 11-76
WCU: WARREN 9-26
ASU: JACKSON 22-34-261-TD, PRESLEY 3-5-51
WCU: PECHLOFF 10-21-188-INT-2TD
ASU: QUICK 7-111-TD, PEACOCK 6-56
WCU: ALEXANDER 4-32, RICHARDSON 2-54-TD, STEPHENSON 1-54-TD
Photo Courtesy: David Scearce, ASU Athletics