BOONE, N.C. — The mountains of North Carolina were filled with cheers Saturday as the Appalachian State Mountaineers hosted the Troy Trojans. But this game wasn't like any other; unranked App State was fresh off an upset win against Texas A&M last week, stunning the Aggies 17-14 in a game that got the attention of ESPN's College Gameday.
The camera crews and broadcasting trucks descended into Boone this week. The Gameday set was built and festivities preluded the match. Three App State students made posters that were so good that they won free tuition for the year after a contest ran. And then came kickoff, and the Trojans found themselves in a battle on the Mountaineers' home turf.
Nobody could really predict what would happen. But a last-minute Hail Mary play from App State in the game's final seconds once again gave the Mountaineers another stunning victory, pulling off a stunning 32-28 win at Kidd Brewer Stadium.
Wide receiver Christian Wells, a redshirt sophomore, got the scoring started early for App State, taking a 17-yard pass from fellow WR Dashaun Davis into the endzone, followed by a kick from Michael Hughes early in Q1. Seven minutes later, a 19-yard run from Troy senior running back D.K. Billingsley and a kick from senior Brooks Buce tied it up 7-7.
The Trojans carried most of the scoring in the second quarter, with junior QB Gunnar Watson running it in and Buce threading the goalposts. App State responded with less than 90 seconds to halftime as sophomore RB Anderson Castle ran the ball for 18 yards from Chase Brice. Hughes kicked it in to tie up at 14, but Troy would head into halftime with the 21-14 lead with another Watson run and Buce kick.
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When both teams hit the turf again in Q3, App State largely stepped up the pace again. Daetrich Harrington, a redshirt senior RB, ran 19 yards early on for another touchdown, and Hughes again made the point-after kick to tie it up at 21 points. Troy maintained their defense though, only allowing a 23-yard field goal from Hughes that quarter. The Mountaineers were just slightly peaked above the Trojans 24-21 at the end of Q3.
The final quarter proved to be the winner-take-all part of this story. Troy's Kimani Vidal, a sophomore RB, ran it in by a yard, and a kick from redshirt freshman Zach Long brought the Trojans up to 28 points. The clock kept ticking though, and it seemed that App State's last action would be a team safety with 20 seconds left.
The Mountaineers were down just two points. Time was running out with just two seconds of play left. This was App State's final chance to win at home with the national spotlight on them.
Senior QB Chase Brice took that chance, hurling a Hail Mary pass 53 yards to sophomore WR Christian Horn. Horn snatched the ball as the clock hit zero, and dodged the Trojans' final stand to find the end zone.
Final score: App State 32, Troy 28.
A crowd clad in black and gold rushed onto the field. The cheers and energy echoed through the mountains and forests that encompass Boone, North Carolina.
And once again, for the second week in a row, the Appalachian State Mountaineers locked in an energizing win, this time on their home turf.
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