by Steve Behr Sports Editor
8 ranked Appalachian State found out that no lead is safe against No. 9
Every time Appalachian State took a lead, Montana eventually answered. It took a missed extra point following an 87-yard Montana touchdown, coupled by a late Appalachian State scoring drive, to give the Mountaineers enough separation in a 35-27 victory in front of 30,856 at Kidd Brewer Stadium Saturday.
It was the third largest crowd in Kidd Brewer Stadium history.
The teams rolled up 900 yards in total offense between them. Montana, which gained 306 yards in total offense in the first half, finished with 483.
Appalachian State’s offense which gained 419 yards in total offense, but reached the end zone just once in a 35-13 loss to East Carolina a week earlier, gained 417 against the Grizzlies.
thought we played very well. I thought we made some real strides from last
week,” Mountaineers coach Jerry Moore said. “We had a nice week of practice.
They were very focused. The fact you flashed Montana in front of them gets
their attention. You don’t have to do much conditioning mentally. They know
what they’re getting into.”
After not scoring any points in the third quarter, the Mountaineers (1-1) came alive in the fourth. Appalachian State took a 28-21 lead when quarterback Jamal Jackson found Andrew Peacock for a 25-yard touchdown pass.
Jackson completed 24-of-34 passes for 260 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions. The Mountaineers did not turn the ball over against the Grizzlies after turning it over three times against East Carolina.
“You’ve got to be a very good team to win with turnovers and it came down to who was going to turn the ball over and make mistakes,” Jackson said.
It took Montana (1-1) just one play to answer when the Grizzlies’ big fullback Dan Moore went 87 yards with a Trent McKinney pass for a touchdown to bring the Grizzlies to within one point. However, Montana kicker Chris Lider shanked the extra point to the right, leaving the Grizzlies behind 28-27.
guy was a tough football player,” Jerry Moore said of Dan Moore. “He’s fast.
He’s not a sprinter, but he’s fast. He wasn’t from my family tree. I wasn’t
that big and that fast.”
Appalachian State had its own answer when it marched 73 yards in 11 plays. Steven Miller scored his second touchdown of the game with a 3-yard run after picking up the final 29 yards of the drive on four carries.
That touchdown put the Mountaineers in front 35-27 with 5:05 left.
“In the fourth quarter, they started to get tired and we started running jet tempo,” Miller said. “That’s when we started the inside zones and the outside zones and everything was up the middle.”
This time, the Grizzlies could not answer. Appalachian State safety Patrick Blalock intercepted McKinney’s pass on a third-and-seven on Montana’s next possession.
was actually my first pick,” Blalock said. “I was glad to get that off my back.
Everybody gives me a lot of grief about that. It was a critical point of the
game and he threw a ball down to the middle and I read it and got there in
The Grizzlies got the ball back one more time and kept their final drive alive with two fourth-down conversions. Appalachian State’s All-American cornerback Demetrius McCray put the final brakes on Montana’s comeback bid by intercepting a McKinney pass in the end zone in the final seconds of the game.
were in man coverage and all I know is the receiver was running a go route and
I was covering up,” McCray said. “The ball was in the air and the whole time
the ball was in the air, I was thinking that it’s mine. I’m sealing the game.”
The Mountaineers ran one play to run the clock out. Jerry Moore said to defensive coordinator Dale Jones to make sure the Mountaineers did not give up any big plays on Montana’s final drive.
“I kept talking to Dale about it in the press box was we
don’t want to give up a big play,” Moore said. “We want to force them to use up
their timeouts and run the clock.”
Montana got off to a fast start by scoring on its first drive. Appalachian State shook off that touchdown by scoring the next three.
Sean Price hauled in a Jamal Jackson pass for a 32-yard touchdown, which was followed by a Steven Miller 13-yard touchdown run with 3:23 left in the first quarter.
The Mountaineers’ Henry Barnes forced a Montana fumble with a bone-jarring hit on the following kickoff, which the Mountaineers recovered at the Grizzlies’ 21-yard line.
“The big thing was Henry Barnes’ hit,” Jerry Moore said. “I
think that kind of solidified (our coverage) — because we had a kickoff run back
against us last week. We spent a lot of time on kick coverage this week.”
Four plays later, Jackson scored from the 5-yard line to give the Mountaineers a 21-7 lead.
feel like you can t give a team like that any breathing room,” Dan Moore said.
“You spot them 14 points and it¹s hard to come back."
It would not last by the end of the second quarter Montana weathered an Appalachian State tidal wave by scoring two touchdowns in the second half to tie the game 21-21. The Grizzlies marched 75 yards in nine plays on a drive capped by a 10-yard McKinney run. The score came with just 35 seconds left in the first half.
The Grizzlies converted 6-of-9 third downs in the first half, which helped them sustain drives. Both teams ended up converting third-down plays at the Mountaineers converted 7-of-18, just one less than the Grizzlies.
It’s just the third time the two teams have met in their histories. Montana won the first matchup 19-16 in the Division I-AA semifinals in 2000, and the 2009 rematch 24-17 in the FCS semifinals. Both of those games were in Missoula, Mont.
didn't come down here to have people tell us we played a great game, we came
down here to win,” Montana coach Mick Delaney said. “Now we got to regroup and
get ready to play Liberty who also is also a fine football team.”
Appalachian State hosts Southern Conference rival The Citadel Saturday. The Bulldogs shocked No. 3 Georgia Southern in Charleston, S.C.