Editor’s Note: Upon further review from the Appalachian State Department of Athletics, the Simms McElfresh 17-yard touchdown has been changed from a 17-yard passing TD, to a 17-yard rushing TD. The story below has been changed to reflect the new information.
The Mountaineers had no trouble moving the ball all day long against the overmatched Bison. The team utilized a balanced attack, out-gaining Howard 369-70 in yards in the first half, and taking a commanding 28-0 lead into half time.
Following halftime, the Mountaineer onslaught continued. In the second half, App State out-gained the Bison in yards (663-172), time of possession (35:50-24:10), and yards per play (7.9-3.3).
Sophomore quarterback Taylor Lamb completed 16 of 21 passes for 209 yards and three touchdowns before taking a spot on the bench midway through the third quarter with the Apps up 35-0.
Junior running back Marcus Cox rushed for 100 yards for the 15th time in his Mountaineer career, finishing the day with 105 yards and one touchdown on the day. Like Lamb, Cox didn’t play much in the second half.
Sophomore wide receiver Shaedon Meadors breaks free of a tackle en route to a Mountaineer touchdown. App State topped Howard 49-0 in their season opener.
Senior wide receiver Simms McElfresh was Lamb’s favorite target on the day, finishing with four receptions for 51 yards and one touchdown. Lamb also pitched the ball to McElfresh in the second half for a 17-yard rushing touchdown.
The 49-0 shutout is App State’s third shutout on their last 12 games dating back to 2014.
It’s hard to say that there was anything bad about App State’s performance today.
Redshirt freshman running back Josh Boyd coughed up the ball after a catch midway through the second quarter, App State’s lone turnover during the game.
Senior running back Ricky Fergerson left the game in the third quarter after sustaining a lower-body injury. Fergerson is the most experienced member of the team’s backfield.
The stands were also pretty empty in the fourth quarter, which, given the margin of victory, isn’t that surprising. There are some drawbacks from dominating in your house, you know.
Feeding the beast(s):
In the first half, App State ran for 194 yards on 24 carries. Cox had a 68-yard touchdown run 1:48 into the second quarter, Cox’ second-longest run of his career. His longest took place last season against Georgia State when Cox broke off a 76-yard run for a touchdown.
Cox wasn’t the only Mountaineer who found room to run. Redshirt freshman running back Jalin Moore followed suit, finishing second on the team with six carries for 64 yards and a touchdown. Redshirt-freshman quarterback J.P. Caruso added 61 yards, sophomore running back Terrance Upshaw added 42, and Lamb finished with 41 yards rushing. Caruso led the team in yards per carry, averaging 10.2 in the game.
The Mountaineers finished the game with 359 yards on the ground.
The game allowed the team to showcase their talented, crowded backfield, which they’ll undoubtedly rely on all season.
Airing it out:
The aerial attack was also in full force today.
Taylor Lamb threw for 175 yards and two touchdowns by halftime, including a 50-yard strike to sophomore receiver Shaedon Majors and a 20-yard touchdown pass to McElfresh. Lamb finished with over 200 yards and three touchdowns.
While McElfresh led the team, Meadors was right behind him, finishing the game with 4 receptions for 64 yards and the previously mentioned touchdown.
Junior tight end Barrett Burns also had a touchdown from Lamb in the game.
When Caruso replaced Taylor Lamb in the third quarter, the aerial success continued. Caruso completed five passes for 78 yards and a 37-yard touchdown to sophomore receiver Ike Lewis. The 37-yard touchdown was the first touchdown pass of Caruso’s career.
12 different receivers caught a pass during the game, and the team finished with 298 yards passing.
Howard struggled to find room to move all day offensively. They ended the first half with only 70 total yards, and the second half was no different, as the team finished the day with only 172 total yards.
The Mountaineers defense had two sacks, seven tackles for loss, and one interception on the day, while also holding the Bison to only 36 yards on the ground.
Sophomore linebacker Eric Boggs led the team with nine tackles, and sophomore corner Latrell Gibbs stole a pass from Howard’s freshman quarterback Kalen Johnson along the sideline with 9:51 left in the third quarter.
The Mountaineers (1-0) head to Death Valley to play to the Clemson Tigers (1-0) in what’s likely to be the team’s toughest match-up of the season. Kickoff for the contest is set for 12:30 p.m.
Story by: Chris Warner, Sports Editor
Photo by: Chris Deverell