Class of 2023: Top 10 sporting moments


Lynette Files

Senior linebacker Jordan Fehr and redshirt freshman outside linebacker Nick Hampton jump to block a field goal on the final play of the game to seal the 34-31 victory for the Mountaineers

Dan Davidson, Former Sports Editor

This list is in chronological order. It is not a ranked list. 

1. King of the Carolinas

True freshman Nick Ross intercepts the first pass of his career and returns it 20 yards for a touchdown against USC. (Moss Brennan)

In 2019, App State football defeated North Carolina and South Carolina to capture its first Power Five victories since its historic 2007 win over Michigan in the Big House.

The Mountaineers marched into Chapel Hill and defeated the Tar Heels 34-31. Similar to 2007, the Black and Gold won on a game-winning blocked field goal.

Two months later, the Mountaineers took on the Gamecocks in Williams-Brice Stadium, knocking off the Southeastern Conference foe 20-15. 

With the wins, App State became the seventh Group of Five team since the Sun Belt’s formation in 2001 to post two Power Five road wins in the same season.


2. Fourth-straight Sun Belt championships

App State came away victorious in the 2019 Sun Belt Championship game against Louisiana 45-38, Dec. 7, 2019. (Max Correa)

A one-loss Mountaineer team secured its fourth-straight Sun Belt title in Kidd Brewer Stadium Dec. 7, 2019, after defeating Louisiana 45-38. 

App State moved to 12-1 on the season, becoming the first program in the state of North Carolina to win 12 games in a season at the FBS level. 

Following the victory, fans stormed the field to celebrate with the team as confetti sprayed over Kidd Brewer. The team climbed atop a stage to lift the championship trophy and celebrate with the Mountaineer faithful. 

The Black and Gold finished the season 13-1 after a 31-17 beatdown of University of Alabama at Birmingham in the New Orleans Bowl.  


3. Men’s basketball run to the NCAA Tournament 

App State men’s basketball claimed its first conference championship in 21 years Monday night in Pensacola, Florida, knocking off Georgia State 80-73. “It’s been a lot of work by a lot of people. I’m just a small part of it,” head coach Dustin Kerns said. (Courtesy of the Sun Belt Conference)

The spring of 2021 saw one of the greatest runs in App State basketball history. After entering the Sun Belt Conference Tournament as a No. 4 seed, the Mountaineers knocked off the No. 2 seed Coastal Carolina and both No. 1 seeds, including the regular season Sun Belt champion Texas State Bobcats, en route to their first Sun Belt Conference Tournament championship.

Michael Almonacy was named the tournament’s MVP after posting a career-high 32 points in the championship game. Throughout the tournament, he averaged 21.8 points, 3.8 assists, 6.5 rebounds and hit a Sun Belt record 20 3-pointers. 

Days later, the NCAA Tournament selection committee seeded App State No. 16, sending it to Bloomington, Indiana, for the First Four. Its First Four matchup with Norfolk State resulted in a narrow 54-53 loss after the Mountaineers erased an 18-point second half deficit. 


Junior goalkeeper Addie Clark watches as two JMU players collide and collapse to the ground. Clark made eight saves against JMU and 10 saves in the Sept. 12 matchup with OSU. (Becca Bridges)

4. Field hockey defeats No. 24 JMU

App State field hockey secured its largest win in program history when it defeated No. 24 James Madison Sept. 10, 2021. 

The Mountaineers held the Dukes scoreless as three-time All-MAC selection Friederike Stegen scored one goal and assisted another. Stegen finished her career as the all-time leader in assists in program history. 

The following year, App State reached its first MAC Tournament championship under the leadership of MAC Coach of the Year Meghan Dawson. Despite falling short of the title, the Mountaineers climbed to new heights. 



Graduate transfer quarterback Chase Brice lets the ball fly with two Chanticleers in his face. Brice posted 347 passing yards and two touchdowns against a defense only giving up 15 points per game. (Samuel Cooke)

5. Staton delivers revenge on No. 14 Coastal Carolina

In front of a packed Kidd Brewer Stadium on a late October Wednesday night in 2021, former Mountaineer kicker Chandler Staton drilled a game-winning field goal against No. 14 Coastal Carolina

As soon as the ball soared between the uprights, thousands of fans packed in the stands of Kidd Brewer poured onto the field to celebrate the program’s first win versus a ranked opponent since 2007.  

The victory served as revenge for the Black and Gold after falling to the Chanticleers for the first time in history the year prior. 



6. Forrest joins the 2,000-point club

Senior guard Justin Forrest poses outside of the Holmes Convocation Center March 28, 2022. (Hiatt Ellis)

Former Mountaineer guard Justin Forrest pieced together a legendary career during his time in Boone. 

On Jan. 27, 2022, Forrest hit a step-back 3-pointer to eclipse the 2,000-point mark in front of a crowd of more than 3,000 in the Holmes Convocation Center. He became the third Mountaineer to exceed 2,000 career points. 

Forrest played in 153 games, averaging 13.9 points, 2.4 assists and 3.1 rebounds during his five-year career. His 2,120 points sit at second most in App State history and seventh most in Sun Belt Conference history. Forrest also dished out the sixth most assists in program history, 372 and finished with the fourth most steals, 191. 


Redshirt senior Jon Jon Millner applauds as his team defeats Duke 42-3 on Jan. 24, 2023. (Ashton Woodruff)

7. Millner’s legendary wrestling career

App State wrestling senior Jon Jon Millner dominated throughout his career and became one of App State’s all-time great athletes. 

Millner is a four-time SoCon champion, one of one in Mountaineer history and is a four-time NCAA qualifier. On March 19, 2022, Millner became the second two-time NCAA All-American in Black and Gold history. 

If it weren’t for COVID-19 canceling the 2020 NCAA Championships and an illness which held him out in 2023, Millner could have secured three or four All-America honors for his career. 

Millner concluded his Mountaineer career with a 121-24 record, good for third most victories in App State history. 





Jason O’Keefe, middle, poses with the conference championship trophy alongside former App State players Camden Holbrook, left, and Nick Buchholz, right, July 16, 2022. (Courtesy of Jason O’Keefe)

8. Appalachian FC wins the Southeast Conference

In just its second season, Appalachian FC became the National Premier Soccer League Southeast Conference champions July 16, 2022. 

After App State’s men’s soccer team was cut in 2020 due to financial restrictions from the COVID-19 pandemic, former head coach Jason O’Keefe continued his soccer career with Appalachian FC, serving as co-owner. 

The club was born in part thanks to the void left behind by App State men’s soccer. When the program was cut, O’Keefe reached out to Michael Hitchcock. Later that year in August, Hitchcock called O’Keefe and told him the plan to launch Appalachian FC, with the two being figureheads in the ownership group.

It took just two years for the club to conquer the Southeast Conference, defeating North Alabama Soccer Club 6-2 at the Ted Mackorell Soccer Complex in Boone. 




9. First three weeks of the 2022 football season

Mountaineers celebrate after the win with the section of App State fans that made the trip to Kyle Field Sept. 10, 2022. (Courtesy of Andy McLean, App State Athletics)

The beginning of the 2022 football season was arguably the most hectic period for App State sports across the last four years. 

With a record-breaking, in-state matchup with North Carolina at The Rock, a top 10 victory on the road against a major SEC power, and a Hail Mary miracle the day College GameDay came to Boone; those first three weeks were historic. 

The week one showdown against the Tar Heels was touted as the largest game in Kidd Brewer Stadium history. A record-shattering 40,168 fans backed up the anticipation, as did the game itself. A 40-point fourth quarter rally from the Black and Gold fell just short, but earned App State national attention heading into its week two matchup with No. 6 Texas A&M. 

The Mountaineers traveled to College Station to challenge the top 10-ranked Aggies in Kyle Field. There, App State held Texas A&M to 14 points and secured its largest victory since the 2007 defeat of No. 5 Michigan. 

Sophomore receiver Christian Horn collects a tipped Hail Mary and sprints to the end zone as time expires vs. Troy Sept. 17, 2022. (Aldo Sarabia)

Following the victory, chaos ensued in Boone as students rushed King Street and dove into the Duck Pond.

Later that evening, ESPN’s College GameDay announced it would travel to Boone for its show the next week. 

After staying up all night and packing Sanford Mall Sept. 17 for College GameDay, fans filled Kidd Brewer to witness what’s now known as “Miracle on the Mountain Part II.” 

With two seconds remaining, the Black and Gold sat at the 47-yard line facing a two-point deficit. Quarterback Chase Brice launched a Hail Mary to the end zone as time expired, and receiver Christian Horn snagged the ball after being deflected, running into the end zone untouched. The Rock erupted, the field was stormed and fans, once again, jumped into that nasty Duck Pond. 


10. College GameDay in Boone

For the first time in App State history, ESPN’s College GameDay came to Boone Sept. 17. Thousands of fans gathered on Sanford Mall to hoist posters and watch the show, which featured celebrity guest picker and former App State student Luke Combs. 

Hundreds of App State fans fill the pit for ESPN’s College GameDay Sept. 17, 2022. (Evan Bates)

Fans began setting up camp on Sanford Mall around noon Sept. 16. Thousands of fans stayed up all through the night, and a line to enter the GameDay pit began to form before 2 a.m. Fans remained standing from then until the conclusion of the show, which signed off around noon. 

Even after the noon conclusion of the show, fans moved to tailgating before the 3:30 p.m. kickoff versus Troy. Hours later, they packed Kidd Brewer to the tune of 34,406 fans, the fourth largest crowd in the stadium’s history.

After filming, College GameDay host Rece Davis commended App Nation, saying it was one of the most memorable shows he had ever filmed.