App State was the real deal against Montana. Big plays on offense. HUGE plays on defense. Some standout performances. A nail-biting conclusion. And dude …. proof positive. It was golden!
Good guys win, 35-27.
DON’T WORRY, SPECIAL TEAMS – 22-yard line
Yeah, Montana racked up some yardage (483), but consider their starting line. The average starting point of a Griz possession was the 22-yard line. For the entire game, only two started past the 30 (at the 33 and 38). Five drives started behind the 15. Montana scored four TDs, but they needed drives of 75, 75, 70 and 87 yards to get them. No other drive lasted more than 47 yards.
BE HAPPY, SPECIAL TEAMS – BOOM!
Hit of the game, if not the season so far, belongs to Henry Barnes. The 6-2 freshman just LEV-uled poor Chase Naccarato after he was foolish enough to run a kickoff out of the endzone. He managed to advance a little over 10 yards before Barnes brought the pain and knocked the ball loose. Bobo Beathard with an assist. Matt Watson got the fumble. Four plays later, TD! BOOM!
DON’T WORRY, DEFENSE – 44% third-down completion rate
Hell’s bells! It often seemed Montana could do no wrong on third down. It advanced on six of its first seven third downs (the third was intercepted). A 3rd-and-16 went for 68 yards; a 3rd-and-14 went for 38. But they only converted two the rest of the game. (The Griz did convert twice on 4th, both on final drive.)
BE HAPPY, DEFENSE – Three INTs
And each one was a work of art. Demetrius McCray snagged two, the first (which set up App’s second TD) and the last (which ended the game). Patrick Blalock got the other, killing Montana’s second-to-last possession. While Montana’s QB did nail some big gains on occasion, the App State corners had hands of own.
DON’T WORRY, OFFENSE – 417 yards
It wasn’t shock and awe, but the App State O just kept pounding. Jamal Jackson was efficient with his arm, completing 24 of 34 passes with zero INTs and two TDs. And Steven Miller got better as the game went on, ending with 91 yards on 27 carries (3.4 average). He ran the ball four consecutive times to score App’s final TD, going for 5, 15, 12 and finally 2 yards to endzone.
BE HAPPY, OFFENSE – 4th and 1, GO FOR IT! … THRICE!
It’s the mojo. Gotta be the mojo. Seven plays into the Mountaineers’ first drive, they faced a 4th-and-1. Last year, that’s a punt. This year? Jackson runs for five and another Mountaineer ….. first down! Early in the fourth another 4th and 1, this time on Montana’s 26. And Jackson *just* gets it! First down. Another try that failed was for a loss, but seeing the offensive confidence was Satter-ific.
HERE’S A FEW MORE NOTES WE WROTE.
- Griz Dan Moore often got his Peyton Hillis on. He ran for 93 yards, and did so soaringly. (Dude!) His 87-yard power run was a perfect response to an App State blitz, catching a short pass behind most of the D and just .. wow … He can play.
- Another photographic highlight in a day of many – Jackson getting his Quickness on! Jackson also had his ninth straight 200-yard passing game (he finished with 260), extending a school record.
- Final count on turnovers. App State forced four: three INTs and a fumble. Montana? Nuttin’.
- Graham Fisher, the country kid, won a mean game of hot potato. Jackson had a pass go foul, bounce off a couple bodies, and end up in the 285-pound lineman’s hands. He advanced it 13 yards. Sadly, he negated most of that with a holding penalty on the next play, but it’s forgiven. What a catch!
- Our attendance over/under was 31,000. The official count, 30,856. That was without a packed hillside, while the student section was incomprehensibly sardined. Our only crowd complaint? We didn’t get an “APP!” … “STATE!” chant until two minutes to go in the third. The tiny visitor crowd got its well audible “Mon-tan-uh!” ..”Grizz-lees!” .. on well before the home crowd did its thing. (Shout out to the three drop dead gorgeous former cheerleaders who were alone in yelling “APP!” in the first half, with no love reciprocated).
BLEG. According to the twitters, App State made SportsCenters top plays, at No. 6. Anybody got link to video?
OH, AND ABOUT THAT ATTENDANCE. lol – “Attendances: UNC at Wake, 29,526. Montana at Appalachian State, 30,856.”