Bulldogs spoil Mountaineers’ homecoming

Michael Bragg

Senior wide receiver Tony Washington is clotheslined by the Samford defense during Saturday's homecoming game. The Mountaineers were dominated by the Bulldogs 34-10.  Photo by Rachel Krauza  |  The AppalchianApp State’s 10-game homecoming win streak ended Saturday against Samford in front of nearly 25,000 fans at Kidd Brewer Stadium.

The Bulldogs won 34-10, holding the Mountaineer offense to 223 total yards.

Samford’s senior quarterback Andy Summerlin, who leads the SoCon in yards per game (292.3) and TDs (14) coming into Saturday’s game, threw for 265 yards and a touchdown in the victory.

The Mountaineers fell behind early when Summerlin and the Bulldogs drove 80 yards on six plays to score an opening-drive touchdown. Sophomore Bulldog defensive end Michael Pierce checked into the game on the final play of the drive to power his way in for the score.

The Mountaineers had trouble moving the ball early and it seemed as if sophomore quarterback Kameron Bryant couldn’t find a rhythm.

“I missed too many big plays early,” Bryant said. “Plays we didn’t connect on early affected the momentum and our chances to put points on the board.”

The first score for App State came on a 37-yard field goal by senior placekicker Drew Stewart that capped off a 12-play, 54-yard drive.

That field goal, however, would prove to be the only points of the first half for the Mountaineers.

On the Bulldogs’ first drive of the second quarter, redshirt sophomore running back D’Morrise Bledsoe eluded the Mountaineer defense and scampered into the end zone for a 26-yard touchdown run that put the Bulldogs up 14-3.

Samford struck again seven minutes later when Summerlin dropped a short, seven-yard pass into the hands of junior wide receiver Kelvin Clay, who found his way into the end zone to allow the Bulldogs to take a 21-3 lead into halftime.

App State freshman free safety Alex Gray said the defense was getting worn down from being on the field for so long, but he also acknowledged that the Mountaineer coordinators made necessary personal and matchup changes as the game went on.

Indeed, the Mountaineers seemed to adjust well, giving the offense a chance to make a second half comeback as they limited the Bulldogs scoring to two field goals in the third and fourth quarter after allowing long drives.

The offense, however, still couldn’t seem to sustain drives.

The first Mountaineer touchdown of the game came with four minutes left in the fourth quarter when Bryant zipped a pass into the middle of the end zone to senior wide receiver Andrew Peacock for a 15-yard touchdown connection to cut the Bulldog’s lead to 27-10.
An onside kick off the foot of Stewart was recovered by Samford’s freshman wide receiver, Karel Hamilton, putting the Bulldogs in position to run out the clock.

The Bulldogs pushed their way down to the Mountaineer one yard line and junior running back Jeremiaha Gates powered in another touchdown run to extend the Samford lead to 34-10 with 22 seconds remaining.

App was out of time for a homecoming miracle, as they dropped to 1-5 overall and 1-2 in the SoCon on the season.

Head coach Scott Satterfield said the big plays allowed on defense ultimately ended up hurting the Mountaineers.

“Offensively, we never got into a rhythm at all,” he said. “We have to go back and figure out what we need to start doing.”

Satterfield said that confidence has been waning all year, but the team needs to keep fighting through the losses.

“It’s a season where the question is, ‘What are you going to do when your back’s against the wall?’” Satterfield said. “It’s not easy to go into the locker room and face a group of men who have worked hard and are not getting the fruits of their labor.”

The Mountaineers will take to the road for a game against Furman, who Appalachian has defeated in 10 of the last 12 meetings between the two schools. Kickoff is set for 1:30 p.m. Saturday.

Story: CORY SPIERS, Opinion Editor
Photo: RACHEL KRAUZA, Intern Photographer