BOONE, N.C. ?€“ Running back Kevin Richardson ran for 178 yards and three touchdowns to lead Appalachian State University to a dominant 30-3 victory over No. 17 Coastal Carolina on Saturday before a record crowd at Kidd Brewer Stadium.
A crowd of 23,267, the largest for a home opener in Appalachian and Southern Conference history and nearly 7,000 more than Kidd Brewer Stadium's listed capacity of 16,650, saw ASU out-gain Coastal 582-225 en route to the decisive triumph.
Richardson's 79 yards in the first quarter alone bested his previous career high for a game, set with 67 yards last Saturday versus Kansas. The majority of his first-quarter yardage came on a 59-yard touchdown gallop that gave ASU a 7-0 lead 7:01 into the contest.
Appalachian's next big play came from its defense, as preseason all-America safety Corey Lynch made the first of his two interceptions on the afternoon and returned it 41 yards, only to fumble. Thankfully for the Apps, defensive end Jason Hunter was on the spot to scoop up Lynch's fumble at the Coastal 25 yard line and carry it into the end zone. Despite an unsuccessful PAT attempt, Appalachian took a 13-0 advantage into the second quarter.
The Mountaineers were even more successful in the second period, as they put 17 more points on the scoreboard to take a 30-point lead into the locker room. Richardson scored two more touchdowns in the quarter, from 18 and five yards out and Julian Rauch added a 19-yard field goal to account for the scoring.
Appalachian (2-1) dominated on both sides of the ball in the first half, as it out-gained the Chanticleers 346-107 and held a 225-43 advantage in rushing yardage. Richardson collected 129 of the Apps' 225 yards on the ground in the first half, while quarterback Richie Williams chipped in with 86 rushing yards and 141 yards through the air before halftime.
Coastal Carolina (2-1) scored its only points of the contest on a 27-yard field goal by Josh Hoke on the first series of the second half.
Appalachian racked up another 216 yards of total offense in the second half, but didn't put any more points on the board in cruising to the rout.
Richardson racked up his 178 yards on just 18 carries, good for a 9.9-yard average. He became the first Mountaineer to rush for three touchdowns in a game since quarterback Trey Elder ran for three scores in his debut versus Texas State in 2004. Richardson's 179 yards are the most by an ASU runner since Alan Atwater tallied 207 yards versus Chattanooga in 2003.
Not to be overlooked, Williams compiled 270 yards of total offense, as he completed 13-of-25 passes for 185 yards and ran for 85 more on just nine attempts (9.4 yards per carry). The Walter Payton Award candidate still hasn't thrown an interception this season and has not been picked off in his last 117 passes, dating back to the first quarter of last season's finale at Western Carolina.
As a team, Appalachian posted 353 rushing yards, its most since also running for 353 yards in the first round of the 2001 I-AA playoffs versus William & Mary.
Despite the offensive fireworks, it was perhaps the ASU defense that stole the show, as the Mountaineers surrendered their fewest points since shutting out VMI, 52-0, in 2000. Lynch led the way with his two interceptions and five tackles, while linebackers Brad West and Zodd Kelly chipped in with eight tackles apiece and defensive end Marques Murrell added seven stops, including 2.5 for loss and a sack. Cornerback Jerome Touchstone also turned in an impressive performance, as he made four solo tackles, broke up a pass and blocked a field goal.
Perhaps the only negative that could be found for the Mountaineers were their 17 penalties for 183 yards, both school records.
Appalachian opens Southern Conference play next Saturday when it travels to Charleston, S.C. to face The Citadel. Kickoff is slated for 4 p.m. at Johnson Hagood Stadium.