Appalachian State University football hung with one of the nation’s top teams for the better part of three quarters on Saturday but Georgia’s talent and depth eventually prevailed in the Bulldogs’ 45-6 win over the Mountaineers at Sanford Stadium.
Despite making just 2-of-4 field-goal attempts in the first half, Appalachian State (2-8) trailed just 14-6 at halftime and 17-6 late in the third quarter before Georgia (6-3) scored four touchdowns in a 13:05 span to pull away.
Appalachian drove into Georgia territory on four of its first five possessions but came away with just six points on 33- and 49-yard field goals by Drew Stewart (Gastonia, N.C./North Gaston). The other promising drives ended with Georgia blocking a 49-yard field-goal attempt and Stewart barely pulling a 46-yard try wide left.
While the Mountaineers’ offense was clicking, Georgia struggled to establish an offensive rhythm against Appalachian’s defense in the first half. The Bulldogs put together touchdown drives of 72 and 68 yards in the first 20 minutes of the game but managed just 65 yards in their other three possessions of the first half and heard boos from the sellout crowd of 92,746 as they went into the locker room clinging to the slim 14-6 lead.
In all, UGA outgained App State just 215-194 in the first half with the Mountaineers holding a 156-155 advantage in passing yards and the teams picking up 12 first downs apiece.
Appalachian continued to keep it close for much of the third quarter and Georgia led just 17-6 with less than five minutes to go in the period. However, UGA’s superior depth finally became apparent late in the third when it scored on four-straight possessions to turn the 11-point edge into a commanding 45-6 lead with 8:29 to go in the ballgame.
After outgaining Appalachian by just 21 yards in the first half, Georgia held a 353-58 advantage in total yardage in the second half, en route to outscoring the Mountaineers 31-0 after the break.
Despite the lopsided final outcome, several Mountaineers enjoyed strong individual showings against the vaunted Bulldogs. Leading the way was senior wide receiver Andrew Peacock (Durham, N.C./Northern Durham), who caught a career-high 12 passes for 90 yards. The 12 receptions are tied for the seventh-most in Appalachian State single-game history and up Peacock’s career total to 199, just three shy of the school record of 202 set by current St. Louis Ram Brian Quick from 2007-11.
Tony Washington (High Point, N.C./T.W. Andrews) hauled in five catches for 78 yards while Georgia native Marcus Cox (Dacula, Ga./Dacula) totaled 79 all-purpose yards (59 rushing, 20 receiving) against UGA’s stout defense.
Sophomore quarterback Kameron Bryant (Cary, N.C./Panther Creek) completed 22-of-39 passes for 221 yards, including 13-of-16 for 145 yards in the opening period.
Defensively, linebackers Brandon McGowan (Suwanee, Ga./North Gwinnett) and Michael Frazier (Conway, S.C./Conway) led Appalachian State with seven tackles apiece while Karl Anderson (Pilot Point, Texas/Pilot Point) added five stops, an interception and a pass breakup.
Georgia was led by quarterback Aaron Murray, who completed 19-of-26 passes for 281 yards and two touchdowns. Murray’s 23-yard touchdown pass to Michael Bennett in the second quarter was the 115th of his career, which set a new Southeastern Conference record.
Appalachian did a yeoman’s job against UGA’s rushing game, limiting the Bulldogs to just 127 yards on the ground, 23 of which came on a back-breaking scramble by Murray in the third quarter that was a catalyst to the Bulldogs’ four-touchdowns-in-13-minutes blitz.
The Mountaineers return to Southern Conference action next Saturday when they play their final road game of the season at Wofford (5-4, 4-2 SoCon). Kickoff is set for 1:30 p.m. at Gibbs Stadium in Spartanburg, S.C.
NOTES: Appalachian State fell to 1-13 all-time versus the current members of the SEC ... when Appalachian jumped out to a 3-0 lead on Stewart’s 33-yard field goal on the opening series of the ballgame, it marked the Mountaineers’ first lead against a BCS conference opponent since their 34-32 win at Michigan on Sept. 1, 2007 and their first lead against an SEC opponent since it led Auburn, 15-7, late in the third quarter of a 22-15 loss on Sept. 4, 1999 ... the crowd of 92,746 was the second-largest to ever witness an Appalachian State game, behind only the 109,218 in attendance for the historic triumph at Michigan in 2007 ... with 90 receiving yards, Peacock moved into fifth in Appalachian State history with 1,999 career yards ... With 78 receiving yards, Washington moved into a tie for 10th in school history with 1,613 career yards (matching Sterling Hayward – 2000-03) ... Stewart’s 49-yard field goal in the first quarter was a career long ... Appalachian’s opening drive was its longest of the season in terms of time of possession (7:51). ...Appalachian State senior wide receiver Andrew Peacock matched a career high with 12 receptions, which is tied for seventh in Appalachian single-game history.....The 12 receptions gives Peacock 199 in his career, good for third in Appalachian State history just one behind second-place DaVon Fowlkes (200 – 2001-04) and only three short of the school’s all-time record of 202, held by current St. Louis Ram Brian Quick (2007-11)....With 89 receiving yards, Peacock also moved into fifth in Appalachian State history with 1,998 for his career.....With 78 receiving yards, Appalachian State senior wide receiver Tony Washington moved into a tie for 10th in school history with 1,613 for his career (matching Sterling Hayward – 2000-03).....Appalachian State senior kicker Drew Stewart’s 49-yard field goal in the first quarter was a career long (prev. 48 at Montana.
Score by Quarters 1 2 3 4 Total
Appalachian State 6 0 0 0 6
Georgia 7 7 17 14 45
07:09 APP - Drew Stewart 33 yd field goal, 13-62 7:51 3 - 0
04:53 UGA - R. Wooten 35 yd pass from Aaron Murray (Marshall Morgan kick), 6-72 2:08 3 - 7
02:11 APP - Drew Stewart 49 yd field goal, 8-50 2:35 6 - 7
11:28 UGA - Michael Bennett 23 yd pass from Aaron Murray (Marshall Morgan kick), 7-68 3:03 6 - 14
12:59 UGA - Marshall Morgan 42 yd field goal, 7-48 2:01 6 - 17
04:34 UGA - Todd Gurley 2 yd run (Marshall Morgan kick), 8-68 3:25 6 - 24
01:40 UGA - J.J. Green 2 yd run (Marshall Morgan kick), 4-60 1:35 6 - 31
12:53 UGA - Kenneth Towns 3 yd pass from Hutson Mason (Marshall Morgan kick), 5-46 1:59 6 - 38
08:29 UGA - Brendan Douglas 2 yd run (Marshall Morgan kick), 7-67 2:26 6 - 45
FIRST DOWNS: ASU 17, GA 27
RUSHING YARDS: ASU 32, GA 147
PASSING YARDS: ASU 221, GA 441
TOTAL YARDS: ASU 253, GA 568
FUMBLES/LOST: ASU 2-1, GA 3-1
PASSING: ASu 22-39-I, GA 30-42-2I
PENALTY YARDS: ASU 11-65, GA 7-52
TIME OF POSSESSION: ASU 33:12, GA 26:48
3RD DOWN CONVERSIONS: ASU 7-18, GA 5-9
4TH DOWN CONVERSIONS: ASU 1-2, GA 0-2
ASU - COX 23-59
GA - GURLEY 13-75-TD
ASU - BRYANT 22-39-I-221
GA - MURRAY 19-26-I-2TD-281, MASON 11-16-I-TD-160
ASU - PEACOCK 12-90, WASHINGTON 5-78
GA - BENNETT 5-87-TD, WOOTEN 4-104-TD, RUMPH 4-98, DAVIS 3-58
Photo Courtesy: Andrew Peacock, ASU Athletics