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Mountaineers Close Out Perfect SoCon Season
Courtesy: Appalachian State Sports Information
Release: Saturday 11/22/2008 (ET)
Courtesy: Keith Cline
DeAndre Presley has 314 yards of total offense and accounted for four touchdowns in his first-career start.

CULLOWHEE, N.C. No. 2 Appalachian State University overcame a sluggish first half to score 28 unanswered points after halftime and defeat archrival Western Carolina, 35-10, on Saturday afternoon at E.J. Whitmire Stadium.

In retaining possession of the Old Mountain Jug for the 22nd time in 24 years, Appalachian (10-2, 8-0 SoCon) wrapped up its fourth-ever undefeated, untied Southern Conference season and almost assuredly secured one of the top two seeds and home-field advantage through the first three rounds of the upcoming NCAA Division I Football Championship. The pairings for the 16-team postseason field will be announced Sunday at 7 p.m. on ESPNU.

Making his first-career start in place of injured all-American Armanti Edwards, true freshman DeAndre Presley led Appalachian to touchdowns on four of its first six possessions in the second half to turn a 10-7 halftime deficit into the comfortable win.

The Mountaineers grabbed their first lead of the game at 14-10 less than three minutes into the second half when Presley capped a five-play, 40-yard drive with a three-yard touchdown dive. Facing third-and-10 earlier in the drive, Presley galloped 33 yards to the WCU seven to set up the score.

On its next series, Presley threaded a needle to find tight end Ben Jorden for a 17-yard touchdown pass on third-and-12 to stretch the ASU advantage to 21-10.

Two possessions later, running back Josh Jackson made it 28-10 when he found paydirt from eight yards out. Once again, it was third-down heroics from Presley that kept the drive alive, as he found Jorden for an 11-yard gain on third-and-nine from the WCU 22.

Presley put an exclamation point on his impressive starting debut with a 30-yard touchdown run with 3:47 to play. He finished with 314 yards of total offense, including 156 yards and three touchdowns on 25 carries. He connected on 16-of-25 passes, including 8-of-11 in the second half, for 158 yards and a score.

Despite the offensive explosion in the second half, the story of the day was Appalachian’s defense, which limited Western to just 72 yards of offense, including minus-two on the ground. The defense was most impressive in the second half, when WCU managed only one first down and negative-11 total yards.

Pierre Banks led the defensive charge with 11 tackles, while Lanston Tanyi recorded 2.5 of ASU’s six sacks.

Appalachian opens postseason play next Saturday, Nov. 29. ASU’s opponent and the full championship bracket will be available at GoASU.com shortly after Sunday’s announcement of the field.

NOTES: Appalachian’s other undefeated, untied SoCon campaigns came in 1987, 1995 and 2006 ... ASU moved to 54-18-1 all-time versus Western Carolina and 26-7 since the inception of the Old Mountain Jug in 1976 ... the Mountaineers are 24-9 all-time in Cullowhee ... ASU’s early 7-0 deficit was its largest in the series since WCU also led 7-0 in the first quarter of the 2000 matchup ... the Mountaineers trailed the Catamounts at the half for the first time since 2004 ... Edwards had his streak of consecutive starts snapped at 20 due to a nagging hip injury ... he was available to play on Saturday in an emergency situation and is expected to return to the starting lineup for next Saturday’s postseason opener ... ASU, which clinched at least a share of its ninth SoCon championship last week, secured its seventh outright title with the win over WCU.

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