Appy subdues ETSU

By Matt Hill
STAR STAFF
mhill@starhq.com

   JOHNSON CITY--Appalachian State head coach Jerry Moore was favored to break former Duke head coach Wallace Wade's record for all-time SoCon wins on Saturday night. The ETSU special teams helped in making it a reality.
   Three bad plays on special teams led to the Appalachian State Mountaineers scoring three times in the first half, and the Bucs never recovered in a 29-10 defeat at Memorial Center.
   "We came out tonight and gave them some opportunities in the kicking game," ETSU head coach Paul Hamilton said. "It's hard to explain, but it's something that we've got to get corrected between now and next Saturday afternoon.
   The first special teams mishap occurred at the 10:34 mark of the first quarter when Cecil Moore fumbled a Nate McKinney punt. The football was recovered by Scott Cornatzer at the ETSU 17-yard line.
   On the fifth play of the drive, Appalachian running back Jerry Beard scored from one-yard out to give the Mountaineers an early 7-0 lead.
   Moore thought he lost concentration for a moment on the fumble.
   "That's just part of it," Moore said. "I was just trying to make a play off of it, and I just took my eyes off the ball. I just fumbled. That's all I can really say. There are no excuses. I'm not going to say this and I'm not going to say that. I'm not that type of player. I fumbled, and I made a mistake. That happens."
   The second big play on special teams that hurt the Bucs came in the final seconds of the opening quarter. On that play, Aaron Bass netted an 8-yard punt that put the Mountaineers at the ETSU 16-yard line.
   On the second play of the drive, Appalachian quarterback Joe Burchette completed a 15-yard touchdown pass to Beard and the Mountaineers led 14-0 at the 14:53 mark of the second quarter.
   That was the second touchdown set up by the kicking game, and Hamilton was not happy about it.
   "It's hard to explain, because we spend as much time if not more than anybody in the country on special teams," Hamilton said. "I told our football team in the pregame meal, that as I observe and watch college football teams today, you see the kicking game causes teams to lose games that they have opportunities to win. We talked a lot about that this afternoon. Our kids understand the importance of the kicking game, and we had done a lot of good things prior to tonight in the kicking game."
   The kicking game definitely put the Bucs in a hole, but quarterback Jatavis Sanders said he didn't feel any pressure after the miscues.
   "I didn't feel any pressure," Sanders said. "Being a leader on the team, I can't let my players get down. We kept fighting and kept fighting, but App. State was the best team tonight."
   The third touchdown by Appalachian State was helped by a special teams play, as a 26-yard punt return by DaVon Fowlkes gave the Mountaineers possession of the football at the ETSU 33.
   The Mountaineers capitalized once again. After a 23-yard completion from Burchette to Fowlkes put ASU at the 11-yard line, Beard took it into the end zone from that spot to make it a 20-0 Mountaineer halftime advantage.
   ASU cruised from there, as it outgained the Bucs in total yardage 373-177.
   It was a rough night for Sanders, who finished 6-of-17 for 97 yards and was sacked five times.
   "Appalachian State's defensive line did a good job," Sanders said. "They kept me on the move a lot."
   Sanders did connect with Moore in the fourth quarter from 68 yards out for the Bucs' only touchdown of the game, but it was also a tough night for Moore.
   Moore finished the night with two catches for 81 yards.
   Moore has had a tendency to fumble a lot this year, and he takes all the blame for that.
   "I guess I get to a point where I try to do too much," Moore said. "I'm not really focusing on the ball like I'm suppose to, but there's no excuse for my fumbles."
   Gaven Varner led the Bucs in rushing with 37 yards, while Beard led all rushers with 90 yards on 13 carries.
   Burchette finished the night 13-of-23 for 157 yards and two touchdowns through the air.
   The passing attack was balanced for ASU, as eight different Mountaineers caught passes on the evening.
   While it was a night to forget for ETSU, it was one of celebration for the Mountaineers and head coach Jerry Moore.
   The ASU win gives Moore the all-time SoCon record for wins with 111. It's a record that Wade held for 52 years.
   Moore thought it was more important that the win over the Bucs puts the Mountaineers at 2-0 in the SoCon standings and 4-1 overall.
   "That win for our conference race is the most important thing," Moore said. "It's been a real privilege for me to get to coach. It's been a blessing."
   Said Hamilton: I'm happy for Jerry. I'm an alumnus over there, and I played football over there. And I'm proud for him. I mean that sincerely. I'm proud of what he has meant to Appalachian State. I'm proud of the way he portrays himself as a football coach and as a man more importantly. I wish him the best."
   The Bucs drop to 3-3 overall and 2-1 in SoCon play. They will be back in action next week at The Citadel.