By David Coulson
College Sports Journal
TROY, AL. — It was like chicken soup for the tired Mountaineer football soul Saturday afternoon as a quick start led Appalachian State to its first Sun Belt Conference victory with a 53-14 win over Troy.
After two 15-yard penalties helped spot Troy a 7-0 lead less than six minutes into the game, the Mountaineers erupted for 24 unanswered points and never looked back, showing a dominating ground attack and an aggressiveness on defense that had been lacking in a 1-5 start to the season.
With 441 yards rushing and 551 yards overall, the Mountaineers (2-5 overall, 1-2 in conference) took control early.
Taylor Lamb’s play-action, bootleg, TD pass to Malachi Jones for 59 yards evened the score just 19 seconds later and sparked that offensive outburst.
But it was the best effort of the season from the beleaguered App State offensive line that set the stage for four Mountaineer rushers to pile up between 82 and 123 yards.
Marcus Cox led the way with 16 carries for 123 yards and three touchdowns, while Ricky Ferguson came off the bench for 107 yards on 10 attempts. Lamb kept the Troy defense off-balance with eight carries for a career-high 98 yards and a score and Terrence Upshaw contributed 82 yards in his 11 rushing efforts before leaving the game with what was described as a lower-body injury in the third quarter.
Lamb, the redshirt freshman quarterback, was an efficient 9-of-16 passing for 110 yards a week after setting the ASU freshman record for single-game passing with 397 yards in the overtime homecoming loss to Liberty.
Following Bentlee Critcher’s 37-yard field goal to give ASU its first lead at 10-7, the Mountaineer defense got into the act when linebacker Osvaldo Sombo stripped Troy quarterback of the ball on an option keeper and defensive end Olawale Dada scooped it up for 20 yards and a touchdown that gave App State a huge surge of momentum.
It was one of four turnovers the Mountaineers forced on the day in limiting Troy (1-6, 1-2) to 308 yards of offense. True freshman cornerback Latrell Gibbs picked off two passes to go with a career-high eight tackles, while inside linebacker D.J. Ward led ASU with a career-high nine tackles.
Outside of Chandler Worthy’s second-quarter, 99-yard kickoff return touchdown after the first of three Cox TD rushes, it was momentum that the Mountaineers were able to maintain for most of the game.
ASU went ahead 26-14 after a flukey safety recorded by center Graham Fisher when he tackled Troy defensive back Mark Wilson in the end zone following Montez McGuire’s fumble at the goal line on the final play from scrimmage in the second period.
The Mountaineers then rolled off 27 more points with two more TD runs by Cox, Lamb’s 16-yard scoring scamper and a three-yard touchdown burst by backup quarterback Kameron Bryant in the second half as they kept Troy scoreless.
It was the second time this season that App State had scored more than 50 points in a game, adding to the 66-0 victory over Campbell in the home opener.
Appalachian will have a week off to prepare for two consecutive home games on Nov. 1 against Georgia State and Nov. 8 versus Louisiana-Monroe.