Mountaineers strike gold with College GameDay and Hail Mary


Evan Bates

ESPN’s College GameDay set takes over Sanford Mall, Sept. 16. From Thursday until the end of the day Saturday, half of Sanford Mall was closed off for the set.

Following App State football’s victory over No. 6 Texas A&M, ESPN’s College GameDay announced they would be coming to Boone for the Mountaineers’ matchup with Troy. Sanford Mall turned into a full set while students greeted the crew with excitement and enough streamers to fill the street.

Students and fans camped out from Friday through the night for a spot in the front of the pit on Saturday’s show, some getting little sleep amid the excitement. People piled into the pit early in the morning, stacked with signs for a chance to win the poster contest and be on ESPN’s broadcast. Black and gold covered the grass of Sanford Mall while chants along with sounds from the Marching Mountaineers were in full-force. With Sanford Mall packed out, College GameDay went live from Boone at 9 a.m. with host Rece Davis proclaiming “Welcome to the High Country!” 

The show ran till after noon with stories about App State’s history and videos of students jumping in the Duck Pond spread throughout the show. For the game picks, country singer and former App State student Luke Combs took the stage as the guest picker and there was no doubt about who he’d be taking for Saturday’s matchup. Combs picked the Mountaineers to win then the crowd roared as co-host Lee Corso made it a clean sweep and donned the Yosef head for the first time.

Mountaineer fans surround the College GameDay bus as it arrives in Boone Sept. 15. Streamers covered the bus as Yosef hopped in for the ride. (Cameron Burnett)
By 6 p.m.Sept. 16, the line of students preparing to camp out for the College GameDay event had already circled all of Sanford Mall, as they wait for the chance to make it into ESPN’s College GameDay pit. (Evan Bates)
Students spent the night on Sanford Mall before Saturday’s game, Sep. 17, 2022. In the excitement of the upcoming events, not much sleeping was done as lines started forming long before the break of dawn, and App State chants rang through campus all night long. The lines resulted in bags, blankets and trash left behind on Sanford by fans. (Evan Bates)
With lines forming as early as 3:30 a.m. for the GameDay event, some students chose to take advantage of the free time during their standstill wait by napping with their homemade signs. (Evan Bates)
Marching Mountaineers and App State fans posed for an ESPN camera with the fan-dubbed ‘Sustainable Yosef’ on Sanford Mall for GameDay. (Gwyn Wetzell)
Mountaineer fans show their excitement and hold up homemade signs in the pit at College GameDay. (Cameron Burnett)
College GameDay hosts, from left, Kirk Herbstreit, Rece Davis and Desmond Howard lead the show every week. (Hiatt Ellis)
College GameDay co-host Pat McAfee sings “Beer Never Broke My Heart” with Luke Combs, Sept. 17, 2022. (Cameron Burnett)
Luke Combs points to Lee Corso, wearing the Yosef head as he picks the Mountaineers to take down the Troy Trojans Sept. 17, 2022. This was the first time Corso represented App State’s mascot within 20 years of the show. (Cameron Burnett)
Fans sign their names on the College GameDay signature board on Sanford Mall. (Hiatt Ellis)
With College GameDay in Boone, fans gather on Sanford Mall to watch the live pregame commentary and for a chance to get on television. (Leo Rodriguez-Anaya)




Boone Celebrates a Hail Mary victory

The celebration after the victory over the Aggies was unprecedented in Boone, comparable to the win over Michigan in 2007, but the winning play against Troy with 0:00 on the clock prompted a field rush from a sold-out Kidd Brewer, surrounding sophomore wide receiver Christan Horn after the game-winning catch. Throughout the excitement, chaos ensued with people trampling over one another to be in the celebration.

Once the experience on the field was complete, Mountaineer fans and students alike returned to the Duck Pond for what has become a recent tradition, diving in the water and flipping the duck house after destroying the baby sculpture a week before.

Following the game winning Hail Mary touchdown, fans stormed the field in celebration of the Black and Gold win. (Aldo Sarabia)
App State fans storm Kidd Brewer seconds after Christian Horn steps foot in the endzone to end the game. (Evan Bates)
Mountaineer fans celebrate their 32-28 victory over Troy in the middle of Kidd Brewer, Sept. 17 2022. (Evan Bates)
Kidd Brewer field becomes a sea of black and gold after a last second 53-yard Hail Mary win over Troy University. (Leo Rodriguez-Anaya)
Chaos ensues after fans storm Kidd Brewer, with almost free range to the field, creating an atmosphere of seemingly no rules for a few minutes. (Evan Bates)
In the act of storming The Rock, multiple gates were broken down and the student section was left covered with trash, as fans set their focus to getting onto the field. (Evan Bates)
After App State’s miracle win, fans made their way to the Duck Pond for the second time in a week, flipping over the duck house in the process. (Evan Bates)
App State fans dive headfirst into the duck pond in celebration of their win over Troy. (Brice Fry)