Appalachian State (6-3, 4-2 SoCon) retained possession of the Old Mountain Jug, the traveling trophy awarded to the winner of the annual meeting between the longtime rivals, with its eighth-straight victory and 26th triumph in the last 28 years over Western Carolina (1-8, 0-7 SoCon).
The story of the day was Appalachian quarterback Logan Hallock, who entered the game in place of injured starter Jamal Jackson in the first quarter and completed the first 20 passes of his career, helping the Mountaineers stretch an early 10-0 lead to a commanding 38-13 advantage when he found tight end Drew Bailey for a 16-yard touchdown pass on the first play of the fourth quarter.
Hallock, whose only two previous plays as a college quarterback came when he handed off twice to close out Appalachian’s 55-14 win over Coastal Carolina on Sept. 29, finished 230 yards on 20-of-21 passing and two touchdowns. His sterling .952 completion percentage set a school record, breaking the previous mark of .895 (17-19) set by Armanti Edwards in a 70-24 win over Wofford in 2008.
Not to be overshadowed by Hallock’s unlikely starring role was the performance turned in by senior running back Steven Miller, who set career highs with 245 rushing yards and 34 carries in the smashmouth victory. In the process, Miller became only the 12th running back in Appalachian State history to eclipse the 1,000-yard rushing plateau in a season, finishing the day with 1,077 yards on the campaign, and the first since in 2009.
Freshman wide receiver Sean Price also helped Hallock’s cause, matching his own Appalachian State freshman record with 10 receptions for a career-high 142 yards and a back-breaking 18-yard touchdown catch on the Mountaineers’ final offensive play of the first half that gave Appalachian a 24-7 halftime lead.
In addition the efforts of the offensive trio of Hallock, Miller and Price, it was Appalachian’s stifling defense that helped the Mountaineers dominate the action for most of the game. Appalachian did not allow Western Carolina to register its first first down of the ballgame until only 3:44 remained in the first half and held a commanding 484-167 advantage in total yardage after three quarters. The Catamounts made it interesting with a pair of fourth-quarter touchdowns to pull within two scores at 38-27 but the Apps forced an interception and a turnover on downs on WCU’s final two possessions to seal the victory.
In all, Appalachian’s defense forced five three-and-outs and allowed only 316 yards of total offense, nearly 50 yards fewer than the Catamounts’ season average of 365.8 coming in to the afternoon. The Mountaineers sacked WCU freshman quarterback Troy Mitchell seven times, good for the Apps’ highest sack total since they also recorded seven against Jacksonville in 2008, and tallied a season-high-tying nine tackles for loss.
Filling in for injured weakside linebacker Brandon Grier, Karl Anderson led the Mountaineers with a career-high-tying 10 tackles. Senior middle linebacker Jeremy Kimbrough added nine tackles and set career highs with three sacks and 3.5 tackles for loss.
Appalachian hits the road again for a pivotal Southern Conference matchup at first-place and No. 2-ranked Georgia Southern. Kickoff is set for 2 p.m. at Paulson Stadium in Statesboro, Ga.
NOTES: Appalachian State moved to 24-1 in its last 25 games immediately following a same-season loss ... since the third week of the 2003 campaign, the only time that the Mountaineers have lost consecutive games in the same season was when it opened 2009 with back-to-back setbacks to East Carolina and McNeese State ... Jackson was cleared to return to action in the second half but Appalachian State’s coaches elected to not put him back in the game ... Jackson is officially listed as day-to-day ... Anderson and right guard Tucker Lee both made their first-career starts ... Appalachian moved to 58-18-1 all-time against its Western Carolina, including a 30-7 edge since the inception of the Old Mountain Jug in 1976.