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September 1, 2007

Mountaineers shock Wolverines

The Appalachian State Mountaineers entered Michigan Stadium with the intentions of leaving with a win and they did exactly that, and the squad did it in dramatic fashion as they pulled the 34-32 upset over the nation's fifth rated program. The win is already being tabbed by many in the media as potentially the biggest upset in college football history.

After relinquishing the lead, 32-31, with 4:36 seconds remaining in the game on a 54-yard touchdown run by Mike Hart, the Mountaineers struggled to move the ball. However, they never gave up and continued to fight.

As the Wolverines began driving down field, in what appeared to be the clincher, the Mountaineers came up big in the fourth quarter again as freshman Brian Quick blocked a 44-yard field goal attempt by Jason Gingell. The ball subsequently rolled into the end zone for a touchback.

Following the block, ASU took the ball with 1:37 left in the game, trailing by one point and drove seven plays for 69 yards to setup the game winning 24 yard Julian Rauch field goal.

By the time Rauch nailed the chip-shot attempt the clock read 26 seconds, leaving just enough time for Michigan, who had one timeout remaining.

On the second play of the drive Chad Henne found Mario Manningham down the right side for a 46-yard completion setting the Wolverines up for what they hoped to be the game winning field goal. With six seconds remaining, Gingell planted his foot for the 37-yard attempt that was blocked by Corey Lynch, who went outside off the left side creating a direct lane to the kicker. The senior two-time all-American then scooped up his own block and returned it 62 yards before running out of gas inside the 10 yard line to seal the win.

Appalachian State appeared to be a little nervous as they gave up a quick opening drive score, falling behind 7-0. However, the Mountaineers settled quickly as they struck on a three play scoring drive of their own. The drive was highlighted by a 68-yard strike from Armanti Edwards to Dexter Jackson, who left every one sitting on his heels.

Following the drive, the Mountaineers' confidence grew with each play as they took an impressive 28-17 lead into halftime. The Wolverines showed no sign of being able to slow the Mountaineers spread attack during the first half, as they moved the ball with little problem to open the game.

The Mountaineers brought a balanced attack, rushing for 115 yards in the half, while passing for a solid 129 yards. ASU used a wide array of offensive weapons as Kevin Richardson and Edwards paced the two-time national champions. Jackson struck again in the half for a huge reverse in the redzone, gaining 19 yards on the play, placing ASU on the Michigan four-yard line.

Several plays later, Edwards connected with senior receiver Hans Batichon for a five-yard touchdown pass to tie the game at 14. It was following this play that the Wolverines began to unravel a bit and show signs of mortality as an offense, as ASU forced a three and out.

The Mountaineers proceeded to post a 37-yard drive on five plays, in just 2:15 seconds to take the lead 21-14. An eight-yard touchdown pass from Edwards to Jackson capped the drive.

ASU followed the score by forcing Michigan to turn the ball over after a fourth down attempt at the ASU 35 yard line. The Mountaineers then took the ball for a nine play, 65 yard scoring drive that knocked 4:38 off the clock. The score came on a six yard Edwards run up the middle putting the Mountaineers ahead 28-14.

Third quarter action saw the Mountaineers falter at times, as Edwards threw two unforced interceptions, Quick dropped a sure touchdown pass and Rauch hit the right upright on a 46-yard field goal attempt.

Richardson's performance helped keep the Mountaineers offense balanced with the senior rushing for 90 yards on 24 carries. Edwards had a huge day, rushing for 78 yards and one touchdown, while throwing for another 227 yards, three scores and two interceptions. The sophomore completed 17-of-23 passes.

Redshirt freshman CoCo Hillary also played a huge role in the team's success tacking on four receptions for 63 yards and seven kickoff returns for 151 yards. Jackson scored two touchdowns on the day, leading the wide receiver corps.

Defensively, ASU bent, but they never broke. Pierre Banks led the way with 12 tackles, 2 tackles-for-loss, a sack and a fumble recovery. In front of Banks and the other linebackers was a strong group of defensive linemen that managed to put pressure on Henne off and on throughout the game. Tony Robertson paced the group with five tackles, followed by true freshman Bobby Bozzo, who recorded four.

Justin Woazeah, Leonard Love, Jerome Touchstone and Lynch put in a great performance against the Michigan receivers, only giving up a few big plays in the passing game. Lynch recorded 11 tackles and a blocked field goal that brought the win to ASU.


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