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Next: A frightening game well scheduled

It was this or a pic of him cryingApp State plays host to Chattanooga Saturday in the penultimate home game of the season. Kickoff is 3:30. App State is coming off an emotional home win against arch rival Georgia Southern. It is 2-6 on the season. The Mocs are 6-2 and enjoying a four-game win streak. In that span they’ve beaten Western Carolina, Furman, Elon and The Citadel (combined record, 9-25). The losses were to UT-Martin in the season opener, 31-21, and at Georgia Southern, 23-21. Here are four downs.

App State has won its last eight games against ‘Nooga, and 25 of the last 28. But in recent years the matchup has been among the most unusual on the schedule. In 2010, both teams’ season opener, the Mocs enjoyed a huge 35-14 lead early in the fourth quarter. App State then scored four TDs in eight minutes, and killed a ‘Nooga two-point conversion with 51 seconds left, to win 42-41.

The next season in Boone, the Mocs prevented App State from scoring an offensive TD, but still fell short in a low-scoring 14-12 defeat. It, too, featured a failed two-point conversion that could have forced an overtime. Last season the Mocs ran to an early 10-0 lead to start the second quarter before crumbling 34-17. It was the first App State-‘Nooga game in four seasons in which the Mocs were not within 2 points in the final frame.

‘Nooga boasts the best defense in the SoCon, limiting opponents to just 17.6 points and 313.2 yards a game (Wofford is second in both categories, at 24.2 points and 384.9 yards). It once went back-to-back games without allowing a TD, forcing Furman and Elon to settles for FGs (3 each).

That feathered D is built around owning the sky. It’s allowed only 6 passing TDs this season, while nabbing 7 INTs. Teams are completing a respectable 60 percent of their passes, but only going 9.7 yards a catch. That said, the Mocs have yet to face a passing offense like App State, which averages 285 yards and completes 70 percent of its passes. It also has 12 TDs to just 5 INTs.

Motivation … the Mocs’ got it. With four games to go ‘Nooga remains alive in both the SoCon title chase and a potential postseason bid. Its remaining FCS games are, in order, App State, Wofford and league-perfect Samford. The season finale is at No. 1 ranked Alabama. In short, ‘Nooga must win Saturday. It’s a do or die game.

The last time App State came off a win, it was feeling pretty good. Marcus Cox established himself as a force at Elon, and the offense seemed to find some rhythm. The next week at home against Charleston Southern, the Jamal Londry-Jackson-led offense needed just 88 seconds to return Cox to endzone. And then …. well …. you know. The teams traded punches, and both rolled up yards, but CSU sneaked out with a 27-24 win. Since then the starting job has gone to Kam Bryant. In the last two games, App State has put up 988 yards of offense, rushed for 300 yards, completed 59 of 74 passes, and scored 6 TDs.

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