The Mountaineers’ streak of 18-straight home wins in the month of November was snapped by Chattanooga, who kept the game close until the fourth quarter when they surged ahead and held on to win 35-28 over the Mountaineers at Kidd Brewer Stadium on Saturday.
Freshman running back Marcus Cox rushed for a career-high three touchdowns and had a 100-yard rushing game for the third-straight week, but it wasn’t enough to slow down the Mocs, who moved into first place in the SoCon standings with the win.
The Mountaineers’ defense started out strong, forcing a three-and-out after senior defensive end Adam Scott laid a hard hit in the backfield on Chattanooga’s junior running back, Keon Williams.
After a punt by the Mocs, redshirt sophomore quarterback Kameron Bryant and the App State offense marched methodically down the field all the way to the Mocs’ four-yard line.
Cox capped off the drive with a touchdown, scampering in after a handoff from Bryant.
The touchdown by Cox proved to be the only scoring of the first quarter, as the App State defense remained strong, holding the Mocs to 66 first-quarter yards.
Early in the second quarter, the Mocs sustained a long, 15-play drive that was capped off with a touchdown when sophomore quarterback Jacob Huesman took the snap on a fake field goal and maneuvered his way 7 yards up the middle for a touchdown that tied the game.
The Mountaineers would answer just before the end of the first half, however, when Marcus Cox ripped off the longest run of his career – a 44-yard sprint to set up the Mountaineers in Chattanooga territory.
The recent four-time SoCon Freshman of the Year Cox ended the drive with his second touchdown of the game, powering in behind his blockers to give App the lead once again.The Mountaineers took a 14-7 lead into halftime.
Midway through the third quarter, the Mocs put together a lengthy drive, converting several third down situations as they drove down to the App State 1-yard line where freshman running back Derrick Craine bulldozed his way into the endzone to tie the game.
Just more than three minutes later, Cox pushed his way in for his third touchdown of the game, giving the Mountaineers another lead in the back-and-forth affair.
Huesman, who leads the conference in completion percentage, proceeded to take over the game in the fourth quarter after being held to seven completions for 37 yards through three quarters.
At the beginning of the fourth quarter, Huesman hit junior wide receiver Terrell Robinson in stride as he streaked down the sideline past the Appalachian cornerbacks and into the endzone for a 31-yard touchdown pass that tied the game up at 14.
A few minutes later, Huesman found freshman Xavier Borishade on a short route, and Borishade did the rest, shooting 29 yards into the endzone for a touchdown that gave the Mocs the lead for the first time in the game.
The Mountaineers would respond when Bryant lofted a pass into the back corner of the endzone to senior wide receiver Tony Washington who managed to keep one heel in bounds as he came down from a high leap to snag the ball for a 20-yard touchdown.
The teams were tied at 28 and Bryant and the Mountaineers were given the ball back with around five minutes left courtesy of a stop from their defense.
Thanks to an excellent punt and false start penalty, however, the Mountaineers drive started at their own 1-yard line.
App’s drive stalled abruptly when Bryant was hit while throwing, resulting in a Moc interception by freshman linebacker Nakevion Leslie, who returned the interception 28 yards for a touchdown that would prove to be the final difference.
The Mountaineers drove down the field into Chattanooga territory in the final two minutes of the game, however, when faced with a fourth and short, Bryant overthrew freshman tight end Barrett Burns in the endzone.
“On that fourth down play, we were trying to give our tight end a chance in the endzone, and we just couldn’t execute,” Bryant said.
After turning the ball over on downs, the Mocs melted the rest of the clock to notch their fifth straight conference victory for the first time in school history.
Sophomore defensive end Thomas Bronson said there were times the defense didn’t execute how they should have.
“We let a couple big ones go for a lot of yards and that hurts you,” Bronson said. “We played pretty consistently the whole time, but a couple plays really came back to bite us in the end.”
The Mountaineer loss comes a week after routing Georgia Southern on Black Saturday.
Head coach Scott Satterfield said the team needs to keep improving.
“We are very easily a team that could be sitting here at 7-2, there are so many games like tonight that come down to a few key plays,” he said. “I think we’ve gotten better throughout the season, and we need to keep trying to get better.”
The Mountaineers hit the road for a matchup with the Georgia Bulldogs in Athens, Ga., on Saturday. Kickoff is set for 12:30 p.m.
Story: Cory Spiers, Opinion EditorPhoto: Justin Perry, Photo Editor