By David Coulson
College Sports Journal
Editor’s Note: This is another entry in the College Sports Journal Classic series. With Princeton’s Quinn Epperly breaking the Richie Williams record for consecutive pass completions at the Division I level, we bring you the original story that ran in the Charlotte Observer, the College Sporting News and several other publications in 2004 when Williams established the mark in a win over Furman.
BOONE, N.C. — Just when No. 2 ranked Furman thought it might escape Kidd Brewer Stadium with a victory, Appalachian State tore out the Paladins’ hearts again with a dramatic 30-29 win.
ASU quarterback Richie Williams broke two NCAA passing records and five school marks, but it was his 13-yard scoring run on a draw play with 35 seconds left that lifted the No. 21 Mountaineers (4-2 overall, 2-0 in league) to the Southern Conference victory before 15,311.
Williams was 40-of-45 for 413 yards and one touchdown, setting all-division NCAA marks of 28 consecutive completions and an 89.9 completion percentage (minimum of 40 attempts).
He established school records for total offense (440 yards), passing yards, completions, completion percentage and consecutive completions.
ASU receiver DaVon Fowlkes also came up big, tying the school record for single-game receptions with 14 for 148 yards.
But it appeared that Furman’s highly-touted Ingle Martin, a transfer from Florida, would steal the Mountaineers’ thunder when Martin led the Paladins (4-2, 1-1) to 22 fourth-quarter points and a 29-23 lead with 2:03 remaining.
Martin (24-of-34 for 303 yards) hit tailback Cedric Gipson on a screen pass for a 52-yard TD strike to give Furman its lead.
Williams, however, came back with under two minutes to play and completed four passes in a row to move the Mountaineers from their own 33 to the Paladin 17.
“Their defense wasn’t stopping us,” said Williams. “I knew we could go down and score again.”
The junior passer then used his legs to scramble out of bounds for four yards before scoring the game-win touchdown.
“I was just running for daylight,” said Williams. “To tell you the truth, I ran through the wrong hole.”
Appalachian’s defense came up big for three quarters, holding Furman to one touchdown and forcing four turnovers.
“The difference was we didn’t take advantage of our success (moving the ball) in the first half,” said Furman coach Bobby Lamb. “We gained all of those yards (277 in the first half, 521 for the game) and didn’t score but seven points (in the first half).”
Still, Furman led 7-3 until Alan Atwater (15 carries 62 yards rushing, 11 receptions for 121 yards) smashed over from nine yards out on ASU’s first possession of the third quarter.
Atwater scored again the next time the Mountaineers got the ball, hauling in a screen pass and dashing 21 yards to make it 16-7 with 5:20 left in the third quarter.
Gipson scored for Furman on a one-yard rush to cut the lead to 16-14 on the first play of the fourth period, but Williams finished another impressive drive with a one-yard play pass to tight end Daniel Bettis to make it 23-14 at the 8:33 mark.
Furman got close with a 10-play, 74-yard march that culminated on Brandon Mays’ four-yard TD burst, cutting the Mountaineer advantage to 23-21 with 4:54 on the clock.
But that score and Gipson’s second touchdown were not enough to beat Williams and company.
Martin had one last chance, but after one completion and a spiked pass, he was sacked by ASU defensive end Monte Smith to end the game.
Things don’t get any easier for Appalachian next week. The Mountaineers travel to Statesboro, GA. next Saturday at noon to face No. 3 ranked Georgia Southern.