By David Coulson
College Sports Journal
MOSOW, ID. — Appalachian State needed a spark of momentum Saturday afternoon against and the Mountaineers found it in freshman running back Jalen Moore.
Moore pounded the Vandal defense for a school-freshman-record 244 yards rushing on 27 carries as the Mountaineers ran for 411 yards and pulled away in the second half for a 47-20 victory at the Kibbie Dome.
The victory, coming off last week’s 40-27 loss in its first-place battle with Arkansas State, kept ASU’s hopes of at least a share of the Sun Belt Conference alive as the Mountaineers improved to 8-2 overall and 5-1 in league.
“The key for us is reestablishing the running game,” Appalachian coach Scott Satterfield said before the game and the Mountaineers did that even with starting tailback Marcus Cox out of the lineup with what was described as “lower body injuries,” by the ASU staff.
But without Cox, Moore stepped into the brink to break the freshman rushing record of 215 yards established two years ago by Cox, helping the Mountaineers pile up 23 of their 29 first downs on the ground on the way to 511 yards of total offense.
ASU was also helped by the return of senior center Jesse Chapman, who injured an ankle early in the loss to Arkansas State.
All of that led Appalachian to its 14th win in 16 games over the past two seasons.
Ahead just 21-13 at halftime, the Mountaineers scored on impressive, run-fueled drives of 68 and 93 yards to open the third period and never looked back with a 35-13 advantage.
Efficient App State quarterback Taylor Lamb (8-of-15, 90 yards, three TDs passing) capped off those marches with scoring strikes of 15 yards to Malachi Jones and five yards to Montez McGuire.
On the most important drive of the game, Appalachian took the second-half kickoff and was paced by Moore’s 47-yard burst to the Vandal 21 on the first play from the scrimmage.
Lamb didn’t have to pass frequently, but his 20-yard aerial on the run to Shaedon Meadors combined with Moore’s timely slashes into the Idaho secondary to all but seal the win.
The Mountaineers tacked on a safety, one more touchdown on backup QB JP Caruso’s five-yard, scrambling toss to tight end Bill Cecil and Zach Matics’ 31-yard field goal to complete the 27-point victory. It was the first catch of Cecil’s career.
Appalachian’s defense limited Idaho to one touchdown in the second half and 299 yards for the game.
Tight end Barrett Burns got the Mountaineers on the scoreboard in the first period when he hauled in a play-action, 15-yard pass from Lamb.
Idaho’s 230-pound running back Elijhaa Penny (16 carries, 53 yards) helped the Vandals even the score when he broke an Eric Boggs tackle on the sideline after securing a pass from Matt Linehan (20-of-31 for 243 yards and two TDs passing) and pranced 15 yards for the score late in the first quarter.
App State answered with a nifty, triple-option play as Lamb pitched to receiver Bobo Beathard for 17 yards and another TD.
Idaho tacked on Austin Rehkow’s 22-yard field goal to cut the ASU lead to 14-10, but the Mountaineers answered before the half ended with Terrence Upshaw pounding into the end zone from one yard out to finish an 11 play, 69-yard drive as Appalachian ended the half with an 11-point edge.
Appalachian State remained a game behind Arkansas State, tied with Georgia Southern for second place in the Sun Belt with two games left on the regular-season schedule. Arkansas State beat Louisiana-Monroe on the road, 59-21, while Georgia Southern toppled host Troy, 45-10.
ASU, Arkansas State and Georgia Southern are all fighting for bowl bids.
The Mountaineers will have an off week before returning to Kidd Brewer Stadium for a post-Thanksgiving outing against Sun Belt opponent Louisiana-Lafayette on Nov. 22 at 2 p.m. It will be the final home game on the 2015 schedule.