By David Coulson
College Sports Journal
ANN ARBOR, Mich. — On a cloudy, hot Michigan Stadium afternoon, there were no bolts of lightening to bail Appalachian State’s football team out of trouble on Saturday in a 52-14 loss to Michigan before 106,811 spectators.
Returning to the scene of one of college football’s most historic upsets nearly seven years ago to the day, the Mountaineers were overwhelmed almost from the start in this rematch, which was the first game for App State as members of the Football Bowl Subdivision.
Devin Funchess hauled in three first-half touchdown passes from quarterback Devin Gardner to give the Wolverines a 21-0 lead — an advantage that expanded to 35-0 at halftime.
“We are just here to make our mark,” said Funchess, a senior who responded strongly to the honor of being given Michigan’s No. 1 jersey number before the game. “You only get one chance to make a first impression. That is what we did today.”
Feeling little pressure from the Mountaineer defensive front, Gardner completed 13-of-14 passes for 173 yards, while Funchess finished with seven catches for 95 yards. Derrick Green balanced the Michigan attack with 170 yards on 15 carries and one touchdown, while De’Veon Smith added 115 yards and two TDs on the ground with just eight touches.
Leaving little to chance after their 34-32 loss to App State in 2007, the Wolverines scored on two of their first three drives and piled up 560 yards of offense against the overmatched Mountaineers.
“I think the biggest thing was, we weren’t competing with the scoreboard, we were competing with our abilities,” Michigan coach Brady Hoke said. “That’s what we talked about going into the game and how we wanted to play and how we wanted to go about every down.”
Meanwhile, ASU’s attack was hamstrung through most of the first half before getting untracked for two second-half scoring drives. But by that time, the Mountaineers had dug themselves a 42-point hole.
“We’re obviously disappointed in the way the game ended, said second-year ASU coach Scott Satterfield. In the first quarter, we were playing decently. Then we hit about a four or five minute stretch in the second quarter where we didn’t get any first downs, and they hit a lot of big plays on us.”
Quarterback Cameron Bryant finally found Simms McElfresh in the end zone for an eight-yard scoring strike midway through the third quarter to cut Michigan’s lead to 42-7.
“There really isn’t much of a secret to it, they are a talented group and they came out there and they were just physical with us,” said Bryant. “I didn’t execute well, and like I said I’m always first to point the finger, and I didn’t do a great job today.”
“When you don’t have good quarterback play it’s hard to win games.”
Bryant (8-of-19 passing, 58 yards) took several big hits through the game and was eventually replaced by redshirt freshman Taylor Lamb, who sparked the Mountaineers during a 19-play, 96-yard scoring drive.
The drive ended with Marcus Cox plunging in from the one for a score that made it a 52-14 final. Cox, returning from meniscus surgery a couple of weeks ago, managed 47 yards on 11 carries.
Appalachian State’s redshirt freshman running back Terrence Upshaw became the first Mountaineer in 40 years to rush for 100 yards in his college debut. Upshaw ran for 109 yards on 18 carries (6.1 avg.).
The last Mountaineer to accomplish the feat was quarterback Robbie Price, who ran for 140 yards and a touchdown on just 18 carries against East Tennessee State on Sept. 7, 1974. Price was a sophomore playing in his first varsity game after quarterbacking Appalachian’s junior varsity squad in 1973.
Upshaw and Price are the only players to rush for 100 yards in an Appalachian State debut since the school began keeping single-game records in 1959.
Upshaw also became the first non-conference opponent to rush for 100 yards against Michigan since Air Force’s Cody Getz had 130 yards on 20 carries against the Wolverines on Sept. 8, 2012.