Furman Defeats Appalachian State in Final Meeting

App State vs Furman Action

Furman Makes the Most Of Their Chances In Defeating Appalachian State

GREENVILLE, S.C. – Appalachian State made their final trip to Greenville as a member of the Southern Conference on Saturday, facing Furman one last time to close the book on their 44-game rivalry.  The Mountaineers will be a member of the Football Bowl Subdivision's Sun Belt Conference beginning next year.

Furman made sure to finish that book with an exclamation mark.

The Paladins forced five Mountaineer turnovers in a 27-10 victory in front of 7,322 fans on a dreary, sometimes rainy day at Paladin Stadium.  As large as that number sounds, it could have been much worse for the Mountaineers.  Appalachian State fumbled eight times in the game, losing four.  The afternoon did not start in such a bad fashion for Appalachian State, however.

The Mountaineers held Furman to just two Ray Early field goals in the first quarter, drawing to within 6-3 on a 37-yard Drew Stewart field goal on the first drive of the second period.  Following a Furman fumble, Appalachian State was marching in for the tying score, when the most costly of their turnovers occurred.

Appalachian State ran a wide receiver reverse, but Andrew Peacock's pass was picked off by Furman's Gary Wilkins and returned 98 yards to give his club a 13-3 lead with just over five minutes remaining in the half.  The return was highlighted by Wilkins jumping over a lunging Mountaineer running back attempting to make the tackle.  When asked after the game about the leap over the defender, Wilkins responded, “I was like, 'running back, d-end […] I think I'm gonna jump.'”  The Paladins took that 13-3 lead to the locker room at the half.

The Paladins stretched their lead to 20-3 on an Ernie Cain one-yard score just over four minutes into the second half.  A Mountaineer fumble later in the quarter led to a one-play touchdown drive, as Furman quarterback Reese Hannon hit receiver Ryan Culbreath in the corner of the end zone to make the score 27-3.  Hannon enjoyed a reasonably economical passing day, completing 13-of-19 passes for 164 yards and the aforementioned score to Culbreath.  Furman coach Bruce Fowler recognized the significance of the final touchdown scored by his team, saying, “I think that one that Ryan caught over there, that was obviously a big catch for us and gave us a little breathing room, and we finished the game.”

Appalachian State finished the scoring in the game, finding the end zone on a 39-yard pass from Kameron Bryant to freshman Simms McElfresh.  The catch was the longest of McElfresh's career and his first career touchdown.  Bryant finished the day 32-of-40 for 307 yards and a touchdown, adding 43 rushing yards on 18 carries.  The Mountaineers were led on the ground by Marcus Cox, who rushed 21 times for 118 yards.

The Mountaineers won many of the game's statistical battles, including first downs (30-14), total offense (473-336) and passing yardage (473-336).  Appalachian State converted 5-of-12 third downs, while Furman moved the chains just twice in ten third-down attempts.  The Paladins were also whistled for 11 penalties in the game, registering 115 yards on those infractions.  Appalachian was penalized eight times for just 60 yards.

Appalachian State (1-6, 1-3 Southern Conference) hosts fellow SoCon member – and future Sun Belt opponent – Georgia Southern (4-2, 2-2 SoCon) at Kidd-Brewer Stadium next Saturday in their final conference matchup at the Football Championship Subdivision level.  Furman (3-4, 2-2 SoCon) will travel to Baton Rouge to take on LSU in a non-conference matchup. 

Photo by Brian Wilmer