Appalachian State hosts Furman Saturday
by Steve Behr Sports Editor
“You just can’t look past them. That’s all there is to it,” Mountaineers coach Jerry Moore said. “You take a game like this, this is a season maker.”
Appalachian State quarterback Jamal Jackson also felt Furman’s record is misleading. The Paladins have lost 20-17 to Wofford, 24-21 to Samford and 47-45 in three overtimes to Coastal Carolina.
“They’re a good team, man,” ASU quarterback Jamal Jackson said. “They’ve had some close losses. I know they have the most conference championships in the league — they’ve got 12. It’s a historic rivalry and it’s going to be a good (game).”
Furman’s pulled off an upset of Appalachian State in the past. In 2011, the Mountaineers were favored to beat Furman in Greenville, S.C., but left with a 20-10 loss. The Mountaineers fell behind 20-0 by halftime and never recovered. Appalachian State turned the ball over four times and failed to cash in on three of five chances to score in the red zone.
Jackson threw for 312 yards, and the Mountaineers outgained Furman 399-365 last year. Appalachian State also held a 36:15-23:45 time of possession advantage. Jackson threw two interceptions and fumbled twice, which he hasn’t forgotten.
“We shot ourselves in the foot,” Jackson said. “We had four turnovers, I think all on my end. We didn’t’ capitalize on a lot of our opportunities. It was a bad game overall. We have to limit our mistakes and do the exact opposite of what we did last year.”
Jackson was solid in Appalachian State’s 31-28 road victory Nov. 3 over Georgia Southern. Jackson completed 21-of-34 passing for 383 yards and three touchdowns, including a 67-yarder to Sean Price just before halftime. Although Jackson was sacked four times, he did not throw any interceptions.
Furman got two weeks to prepare for the Mountaineers. The Paladins beat Elon 31-17 on Oct. 27 after running back Jerodis Williams rushed for 95 yards and two touchdowns.
Williams gained 1,008 yards and scored 10 touchdowns this season, which is his second 1,000-yard season.
Quarterback Reese Hannon leads the Paladins in passing with 1,656 yards and six touchdowns with five interceptions. Will King leads the Paladins in receiving with 541 yards and three TDs on 34 catches.
“They’ve got a nice running game,” ASU cornerback Demetrius McCray said. “I know they’ve got a real big receiver that could be a matchup problem for some people. They like to run the ball.”
Appalachian State can clinch a tie for the Southern Conference championship with a victory over Furman. Georgia Southern, Wofford, Chattanooga and Appalachian State all have two SoCon losses.
Wofford plays Chattanooga Saturday. The Mountaineers, who lost to Wofford and The Citadel in league play, feel they’ve received another opportunity to win a share of what would be their seventh SoCon title in eight seasons.
“It’s a second chance,” McCray said. “All the hard work this year paid off and we’ve got to finish it out with this win and get this co-champions of the SoCon.”