GREENVILLE, S.C. Appalachian State lost again Saturday, but found a different way to do it.
This time the Mountaineers fumbled a game away, turning the ball over five times in a 27-10 loss to the Furman Paladins.
The Mountaineers fell to 1-6 overall and 1-3 against Southern Conference teams in their final year in the conference before a move to the FBS.
A week earlier, the Mountaineers lost as result of an ineffective offense. Saturday, the offense moved the ball well enough — but couldn’t hang on to it long enough to score.
In all, the Mountaineers fumbled eight times and lost four of those. And a costly first-half interception was pivotal in turning a potential victory in another defeat.
"We had 473 yards of offense but it doesn’t matter when you lose four fumbles and a pick," said Coach Scott Satterfield, whose Mountaineers are assured of their first non-winning season since 1993.
Furman, shaking off some struggles of its own, improved to 3-4 and 2-2.
The Paladins totaled just 336 yards and were 2 of 10 on third-down conversions, but struck with big plays when needed.
"We just kept battling," coach Bruce Fowler of the Paladins said. "We got some turnovers, and our defense kept them out of the end zone."
The Mountaineers had 30 first downs, twice as many as the Paladins, but the five turnovers took a toll.
"Anything and everything that can go wrong has absolutely gone wrong for us this year," Satterfield said. "It’s hard to keep telling the guys to keep battling but that’s what we’re going to do. Like I told them in the locker room, ‘What are you going to do, just quit and give up?’ We’re not going to do that. All we know to do is keep fighting.
"In life, you get knocked down but we’re going to keep getting back up."
Both teams were plagued by mistakes in the first half, including a combined 106 yards in penalties. But the Mountaineers made the most glaring mistake, which resulted in a significant swing just before halftime.
Down 6-3 and only a yard away from the end zone before a false-start penalty moved the ball back to the 6-yard line, disaster struck the Mountaineers on a second-and-goal play. Receiver Andrew Peacock took a pitch from quarterback Kam Bryant on a reverse, then fired a sidearm pass toward tight end Drew Bailey. Defensive end Gary Wilkins of Furman intercepted at the 2-yard line and, with an open field in front of him, sprinted 98 yards for a touchdown.
The Paladins, on the verge of falling behind, instantly led 13-3.
Peacock said he had the option to pass or run.
"We ran that play a bunch in practice," said Peacock, a former high-school quarterback. "The tight end kind of got squeezed down and I made a bad decision. I should have run it instead of throwing it."
Satterfield said: "That’s a play we’ve run in the past and we’ve had success with that play. He just made an errant throw. That’s one he’d love to have back right now. He’s a guy who’s been a gamer and a player for us for many years, so you trust him to make the right plays. That’s obviously one he should have just taken down and ran with."
Picking up after halftime where they left off, the Mountaineers turned the ball over near midfield on their opening possession of the second half. Marcus Cox fumbled, and the Paladins took over at their 44-yard line.
Seven plays later, fullback Ernie Cain scored on a 1-yard run on fourth down. The Paladins led 20-3.
Cox fumbled again later in the third quarter, setting up the Paladins at the 25-yard line. One play later, Reese Hannon connected with Ryan Culbreath for a 25-yard touchdown pass.
"We shot ourselves in the foot the whole game," said Cox, a freshman who rushed for 118 yards on 21 carries.
Bryant completed 32 of 40 passes for 307 yards and the Mountaineers’ lone touchdown, a 39-yard strike to Simms McElfresh with 3:01 left.
The Winston-Salem Journal is a news partner of the Observer. For more Appalachian State coverage visit journalnow.com/sports/asu/.
The Charlotte Observer welcomes your comments on news of the day. The more voices engaged in conversation, the better for us all, but do keep it civil. Please refrain from profanity, obscenity, spam, name-calling or attacking others for their views.
Have a news tip? You can send it to a local news editor; email email@example.com to send us your tip - or - consider joining the Public Insight Network and become a source for The Charlotte Observer.Read moreRead less