Appalachian State played virtually mistake-free football in its season opener to push then-top 10 Tennessee to overtime at Neyland Stadium.
The Mountaineers were nothing like mistake-free Saturday, hosting 25th-ranked Miami. By halftime, they gave up touchdown plays of 80 and 55 yards in a 45-10 rout at Kidd Brewer Stadium.
While the opportunity to host so storied a football program was a happening in Boone, the result fell way short of the home team’s hopes. It took until the third quarter for the Mountaineers (1-2) to score a touchdown, and that required a 60-yard interception return by linebacker John Law, who picked off a Brad Kaaya pass within yards of another Miami score.
The Mountaineers’ secondary struggled throughout this game, whether Kaaya was throwing in the flat or going over the top of Appalachian State’s defense. A lower-body injury to star running back Marcus Cox limited Appalachian State’s options when it did have possession..
Three who mattered
Kaaya: Miami’s gifted junior quarterback completed 13 of 16 passes in the first half to build a 24-3 lead. He finished with 368 yards passing and three touchdowns.
Mark Walton: The Hurricanes’ running back crossed the 100-yard mark at halftime on just six carries, and finished with 130 yards and two touchdowns.
Law: The Appalachian State linebacker picked off a pass near the goal line to set up the Mountaineers’ first touchdown.
▪ The power of chunk plays: Miami led this game 21-0, having run one fewer play than Appalachian State.
▪ Cox was ruled out in the third quarter. In the first half he rushed seven times for 30 yards.
▪ Mountaineers quarterback Taylor Lamb had a miserable start against Miami’s defense, completing one of his first nine passes.
▪ By halftime Appalachian State had run 15 more plays than Miami, but gained 88 fewer yards.
▪ Saturday’s attendance -- 34,658 -- is a record for Kidd Brewer Stadium.
▪ Appalachian State added about 5,000 temporary seats for this game after single-game tickets sold out in hours. This was the first time a Power 5 conference team played at Kidd Brewer.
▪ Last season the Mountaineers had the best red-zone defense in FBS football, allowing scores on 64 percent of opponent trips inside the 20-yard line. Entering Saturday’s game, Appalachian State was ninth in that category nationally, allowing scores in two of four times Tennessee and Old Dominion were inside the 20.
▪ Appalachian State will travel to Miami in the 2021 season.
They said it
“Everybody knew it was not a fluke by any stretch. It was some physical play by them - offense, defense and special teams. So it truly got our attention.” – Miami coach Mark Richt on Appalachian State nearly beating Tennessee in the season-opener.
“I think I saw on Facebook, about them throwing the ball to their fullback (in goal-line situations). So when he shot out to the flat, I bursted out. When the quarterback threw it, I had to have it..” – John Law, on his interception.
“You felt like we were right there, and then something bad would always happen for ya.” – Appalachian State coach Scott Satterfield, summing up his team’s performance.