Jug still means something to Mountaineers
by Steve Behr Sports Editor
The annual battle for the Old Mountain Jug has been lopsided over the recent years. Winning it still matters to Appalachian State’s players.
Appalachian State has dominated this series with Western Carolina, particularly over the past 27 years. The Mountaineers have claimed 25 of the last 27 victories for the Jug.
They get another chance Saturday when they play at Western Carolina Saturday. Kickoff is at 3:30 p.m.
It would natural to think the current Mountaineers would take winning the Jug for granted. Appalachian State has won the last seven meetings by an average score of 40-14.
That’s not the case. Keeping the Jug in Boone is not the only reason for the Mountaineers to win Saturday, but it’s a matter of pride among the Mountaineers to make sure the one regular-season trophy they play for stays in town.
“With it being a rivalry game, Western’s going to give us the best game they’re going to play all year,” receiver Tony Washington said. “It’s for that Mountain Jug. That’s a big pride thing and it means a lot to the people in this area. It’s important that we don’t overlook this game and we go ahead and get that Mountain Jug and keep it here where it’s supposed to be.”
The Mountaineers achieved that by taking a 46-14 victory in Boone. The last time Western Carolina brought the Jug to Cullowhee was 2004 when they beat Appalachian State 30-27 after trailing 27-19 in the fourth quarter.
That game was played in Cullowhee. Western Carolina’s other win in the past 27 years was a 19-6 victory in 1998 when Brad Hoover ran for 199 yards.
That game was also played in Cullowhee. Western Carolina has not won in Boone since 1984, when the Cats capped a four-game win streak over the Mountaineers with a 34-7 victory.
ASU won the first game in the battle for the Jug 24-17 in 1976. ASU holds a 57-18-1 overall advantage in the series that dates back to 1932, when the Mountaineers started a 13-game winning streak over the Cats with a 20-0 victory.
Appalachian State quarterback Jamal Jackson, a junior, was in middle school in 2004. Now into his second season as the Mountaineers’ starter, he does not want to let the Jug get away from the ASU trophy case.
“It’s for that jug man,” Jackson said. “We’ve had that jug for a long time. It’s on us to retain it and just play hard. We know what we’re going to face when we get to Cullowhee, so we’ve got to play ball.”
The new Southern Conference schedule dictated that this game would be played in October for just the fourth time since the Jug was up for grabs in 1976. The games’ been played in September once and August once, but it was usually played in November as the team’s final game, or the second-to-last-game, of the regular season.
This season, Appalachian State plays Western Carolina between SoCon powers Wofford and Georgia Southern. Wofford beat Appalachian State 38-28 last weekend, and faces Georgia Southern on Nov. 3 in Statesboro, Ga.
Overlooking a longtime rival such as Western Carolina won’t be an issue, according to All-American cornerback Demetrius McCray.
“We’ve still got Georgia Southern in the back of our minds, but we still can’t get ahead of ourselves,” McCray said. “We have to focus on Western. We’ve got to take it one game at a time. We know that Georgia Southern’s going to be a big one. That’s not to say we’re overlooking Western. We still have to come prepared for them.”