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ASU's Season Ends in Heart-Breaking Fashion
Courtesy: Appalachian State Sports Information
Release: Saturday 12/12/2009 (ET)
Courtesy: Keith Cline
Brian Quick caught a career-best 10 passes for 135 yards on Saturday at Montana.

MISSOULA, Mont. - Appalachian State University football's bid for a fourth berth in the NCAA Division I Football Championship national title game in five years came up three yards short in a 24-17 semifinal loss to top-seeded Montana on Saturday afternoon at snowy Washington-Grizzly Stadium.

Appalachian took a 17-14 lead into the fourth quarter but Montana scored 10 points in the final period, the last seven on a 25-yard touchdown pass from Andrew Selle to Jabin Sambrano with 1:31 remaining.

Needing a touchdown to send the game to overtime, Armanti Edwards completed five passes to move the Mountaineers from their own 25 to the UM three with six seconds remaining. The Apps got two shots at the end zone but the first attempt was broken up by Montana's Brandon Fisher and the second slipped through the hands of Brian Quick on the final play of the game.

On the strength of a 46-yard field goal by Jason Vitaris, ASU led 10-7 at halftime. However, when the teams returned to the field for the second half, they were greeted by a snow-covered field, as the precipitation that began late in the first half intensified during halftime.

Chase Reynolds' second touchdown run of the afternoon gave the Grizzlies a 14-10 lead on the first series of the third quarter.The Apps responded by driving 56 yards on their first possession of the second half but Vitaris' 36-yard field-goal try was blocked on the slippery field and the deficit remained at four points.

Montana appeared to be on their way to taking a two-possession lead when it moved the ball to the ASU 22 on its ensuing series. However, Mountaineer linebacker Jacque Roman intercepted Selle at the 16 yard line and returned it 34 yards to give the Mountaineers the ball at midfield.

Nine plays later, Devon Moore dove in from a yard out and ASU regained a 17-14 advantage with 3:52 left in the third quarter. The lead was short-lived, however, as Montana knotted the score at 17-17 on a 32-yard field goal by Brody McKnight three plays into the final period.

Appalachian drove into Griz territory on both of its first two fourth-quarter possessions but came away with no points thanks to an interception and a failed 44-yard field-goal try.

Following the missed field goal with 3:46 remaining, UM drove 73 yard in just four plays and took the 24-17 lead on Sambrano's tight-rope-act touchdown catch in left side of the end zone.

The Mountaineers appeared to put themselves in good field position when Travaris Cadet returned the ensuing kickoff 24 yards to the ASU 40. However, the Apps' 10th penalty of the afternoon brought the ball back to the 25 where the drive would begin.

After misfiring on the first play of the drive, Edwards completed three-straight passes - highlighted by a 30-yard gain to B.J. Frazier - to move the Apps to the Montana 24. Three-consecutive incomplete passes followed but on fourth-and-10, Edwards connected with Quick for a 10-yard gain to pick up the first down by the slimmest of margins.

Two plays later, Edwards found Moore across the middle for an 11-yard gain that set up the heart-breaking conclusion.

Edwards completed 28 of his career-high and ASU-postseason-record 54 pass attempts for 353 yards and ran 15 times for 54 yards in the final game of his record-breaking collegiate career. Quick was his top target, catching a career-high 10 passes for 135 yards. Matt Cline overcame a vicious hit in the second quarter to haul in seven receptions for 101 yards.

ASU outgained Montana, 497-353, but was plagued by the 10 turnovers for 86 yards and two trips into the red zone without any points.

Reynolds led the Grizzlies with 193 yards on 23 carries and the two scores. Under constant pressure from the Mountaineer defense, Selle completed just 11 of his 27 passes for 161 yards and all-America receiver Marc Mariani caught only three passes for 39 yards.

Appalachian closes the season at 11-3 while 14-0 Montana advances to Friday's national championship game where it will face second-seeded Villanova.

NOTES: Appalachian fell to 3-3 all-time in the semifinal round ... the semifinal loss was its first since dropping a 19-16 overtime decision at Montana in 2000 ... for the first time in school history, ASU lost a game that was televised on ESPN, ESPN2 or ESPNU ... Saturday's loss, which was televised nationally on ESPN, dropped the Mountaineers to 15-1 all-time on those networks ... Appalachian fell to 0-9 all-time in games played west of the Mississippi River ... Edwards' 353 passing yards were the third-most in ASU's NCAA Division I FCS/I-AA playoff history ... Quick's and Cline's 100-yard receiving performances were the eighth and ninth in ASU's NCAA Division I FCS/I-AA playoff history ... defensive end Lanston Tanyi was not available due to a knee injury suffered in practice on Wednesday ... linebacker Justin Lloyd left the game with a knee injury.

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