Jackson also set career highs with four touchdown passes and 94 rushing yards in Appalachian State’s 17th-straight victory over Elon. The junior finished with 304 yards on 20-of-29 passing and had a rushing touchdown to go along with his four scores through the air.
Despite Jackson’s gaudy numbers, the game was a battle for Appalachian (4-2, 2-1 SoCon), which overcame a career-high 419 passing yards by Elon’s Thomas Wilson to pull away from the Phoenix in the second half.
The Mountaineers struggled on both sides of the ball throughout the first half but thanks to a career-long 54-yard touchdown catch by Tony Washington with 1:01 to go before halftime, they took a 14-10 advantage into the break. Appalachian’s halftime lead came despite allowing Elon to amass 293 yards in the first two periods while going three-and-out on three of its first six offensive possessions and throwing an interception on a fourth.
Elon (2-4, 0-3 SoCon) regained the lead at 17-14 on its first possession of the second half but three series later, the Mountaineers took the lead for good when Andrew Peacock capped a six-play, 93-yard drive with a 25-yard touchdown catch that pushed the Apps ahead, 21-17.
Senior running back Steven Miller, who was Appalachian’s unlikely receiving leader with five receptions for 97 yards and two touchdowns (all career highs), gave Appalachian its first two-score cushion two possessions later when he hauled in his second touchdown catch of the day from 23 yards out that stretched the advantage to 28-17.
Just 1:21 later, Elon pulled back within five points at 28-23 on Aaron Mellette’s third touchdown catch of the day but following a 35-yard kickoff return by Washington, Appalachian marched 62 yards on seven plays and took a 35-23 lead on Jackson’s one-yard touchdown run on fourth down.
From there, Appalachian’s defense took over, limiting Elon to 25 yards the rest of the way. The Apps ended any hopes of an Elon comeback when they picked off Wilson for the third time on the Phoenix’s final offensive play.
The teams combined for over 1,000 yards of total offense, with Elon racking up 515 and Appalachian going for 499. However, the Mountaineers held significant advantages in rushing (195-96) and turnover margin (3-1) and got a big boost on special teams with 63 yards on three kickoff returns (21.0 avg.) compared to zero kickoff-return yards for the Phoenix.
Troy Sanders led the Mountaineers’ defensive effort with 11 tackles, including one for loss. Jeremy Kimbrough, Demetrius McCray and Jamill Lott all had interceptions, with Kimbrough’s and McCray’s pickoffs both thwarting drives deep in Appalachian territory.
Buoyed by the disputed 59-yard touchdown catch early in the second half when he ran out of bounds but officials determined that he had been pushed out, allowing him to come back in bounds to haul in the long scoring reception unmolested, Mellette finished with 237 yards on 13 catches. The rest of Elon’s receivers combined for just 12 receptions on the ballgame.
Appalachian, which has amassed at least 400 yards of total offense in each of its first six games of the season for the first time since joining the NCAA Division I ranks in 1972, returns to action next week with a pivotal Southern Conference battle at Samford (5-1, 3-1 SoCon). Kickoff is set for 3 p.m. ET (2 p.m. CT) at Seibert Stadium in Birmingham, Ala.
NOTES: Appalachian’s 17-game winning streak over Elon began with a 9-0 win over the then-Fighting Christians in Elon on Oct. 2, 1965 ... the Mountaineers have not lost to Elon since a 28-7 setback at then-Conrad Stadium on Oct. 3, 1964 ... it has been 17,535 days since Appalachian last lost to Elon ... the Mountaineers won their 10th-straight homecoming game and moved to 38-11-2 all-time on homecoming at Conrad/Kidd Brewer Stadium ... Appalachian won for the 64th time in its last 70 home games and 49th time in its last 56 Southern Conference games ... Jackson’s 398 yards of total offense are good for a tie for 16th in Appalachian State history and were the 27th-most in NCAA Division I FCS this season ... Jackson moved into ninth in school history with 3,726 career passing yards, surpassing Appalachian assistant head coach/offensive coordinator Scott Satterfield (3,504 yards - 1992-95) in the process ... Jackson also moved into ninth in Appalachian history with 296 career completions and Jackson has passed for at least 200 yards and had at least 250 yards of total offense 12 times in his 13 career starts ... McCray’s third-quarter interception was the ninth of his career, good for eighth among all active FCS players.