Homecoming lookback


The Appalachian Online

Chris Warner

It was after homecoming a little under a year ago when Appalachian State football took a turn for the better.

Beginning the season with a blowout 52-14 loss on the road against Michigan, the Mountaineers began the season with a 1-4 overall record, with their only win coming against Campbell, who doesn’t field scholarship athletes.

The team had road woes early. As mentioned, they were blown out by Michigan on the road in their first game, lost a heartbreaker to Southern Mississippi on the road in their second game, and were outmatched by Georgia Southern in conference play in their third.

Following a crushing 47-21 loss to conference foe South Alabama in week six, Appalachian State carried a three-game losing streak into homecoming weekend when they would square off against the Liberty Flames.

It appeared that the Mountaineers were ready to snap out of their losing ways, as App State took a 7-0 lead after their first drive, thanks to a 38-yard rushing touchdown by Marcus Cox.

However, the Flames were prepared for the challenge.

The two teams traded leads seven times in the game, ending regulation in a 48-48 tie after a Liberty touchdown by quarterback Josh Woodrum tied the game with 6 minutes and 19 seconds remaining.

Woodrum stole the show in overtime as well with a 9-yard pass to Darrin Peterson, and the Flames walked away victorious 55-48, extending App State’s losing streak to four games.

Then-freshman quarterback Taylor Lamb set the App State freshman single-game passing yards record with 397 and total yards record with 415 in the loss.

But it was not the collapse against Liberty, but instead what followed, that would define the 2014 Mountaineers season.

Following the loss, the Mountaineers responded in historic fashion, finishing the season on a six-game winning streak – all against Sun Belt opponents.

They crushed Troy 53-17 on Oct. 18 following the Liberty loss, and after a bye week, the black and gold shut out Georgia State 44-0.

Perhaps their biggest victory of the season came in the second-to-last game of the year, when the Mountaineers defeated Louisiana 35-16, handing the Ragin’ Cajuns their only conference loss of the season. UL-Lafayette finished the season 9-4, defeating Nevada 16-3 in the New Orleans bowl.

After averaging 27 points and roughly 400 yards per game during their 1-4 start, the Mountaineers averaged almost 42 points and over 500 yards per game over the final seven games, increasing their average rush yards per game by over 100 yards.

Cox was a catalyst in the team’s success. Racking up 969 yards and 13 touchdowns following the loss to Liberty, Cox averaged almost 162 yards rushing per game. He even ran for over 200 in contests against Georgia State and Arkansas State.

Lamb set App State freshman records for passing yards (2,381) and touchdown passes (17), and led the conference with a 141.2 pass efficiency rating, all en route to becoming the Sun Belt Freshman of the Year.

The Mountaineers returned 22 starters in 2015 and were able to extend the win streak to seven games with a win 49-0 trouncing of Howard before Clemson snapped it on Sept. 12.

With a dominant win over Old Dominion last weekend, the Mountaineers (2-1) have won eight of nine games since the 2014 homecoming loss, and look poised to continue their success as they square off with the Wyoming Cowboys (0-4) for homecoming on Saturday. Kickoff is set for 3:30 p.m.

Story by: Chris Warner, Sports Editor