BOONE, N.C. ?€“ Walter Payton Award candidate Richie Williams threw for 256 yards to become Appalachian State University's all-time leading passer and lead the 12th-ranked Mountaineers to a 35-25 victory over Chattanooga on Saturday at Kidd Brewer Stadium.
Williams' 256 yards on the afternoon pushed him to 6,725 for his illustrious career, surpassing the previous school record of 6,609 set by Joe Burchette from 1999-2002.
The senior from Camden, S.C. also accounted for four touchdowns, two through the air and two on the ground, completed 17-of-23 passes and ran 13 times for 70 yards in the triumph. With his 326 total yards, Williams topped 300 yards of total offense for the fifth time in eight games this season and 12th time in his career.
Despite the banner day for Williams, things did not start out as planned for Appalachian, as it found itself trailing for the first time at home this season when Esteban Lopez kicked a pair of first-quarter field goals to give Chattanooga a 6-0 lead.
ASU took its first advantage of the game early in the second period when Williams found tight end Daniel Bettis for a six-yard scoring strike. The touchdown reception was Bettis' third in the past two games and the 10th of his career. One quarter of the junior's 40 career catches have been for six points.
Trailing 13-7 with just over two minutes remaining in the first half, Appalachian took advantage of a UTC fumble to march 32 yards in three plays and take a 14-13 lead on an 11-yard scamper by Williams with 1:20 to go before halftime.
The Mountaineer offense started to hit on all cylinders after the break, as it put together touchdown drives of 70-plus yards on three of its first four possessions of the second half. However, the Mocs answered each of ASU's first two scoring drives with touchdowns of their own to keep the contest close until Kevin Richardson's three-yard touchdown plunge gave the Apps a 35-25 lead with 11:15 to go in the ballgame.
From there, Appalachian's defense forced back-to-back three-and-outs to put the game away.
In addition to Williams' heroics, Richardson ran for 109 yards on 20 carries and Jermane Little caught seven passes for 90 yards to pace the Mountaineers offensively.
Showing no ill effects from a minor injury that held him to limited action in last week's rout over Wofford, ASU linebacker Zodd Kelly posted a game-high 13 tackles. Defensive end Jason Hunter kept up his torrid pace with three tackles for loss, including his conference-leading eighth sack of the season, while defensive back Jeremy Wiggins added eight tackles, a quarterback hurry and his first interception of the season to also help lead Appalachian's defensive effort.
Chattanooga running back Eldra Buckley became the first player in seven seasons to gain 200 yards on the ground against ASU, as he ran for a career-high 210 yards in the losing effort. Appalachian hadn't allowed anyone to rush for 200 yards since Georgia Southern's Adrian Peterson posted 216 yards against the Apps on Oct. 17, 1998.
However, for the third-straight game, Appalachian allowed less than 100 passing yards, as the Mocs managed just 89 yards through the air against the Mountaineers' stingy pass defense.
With the victory, Appalachian (6-2, 4-1 SoCon) took sole possession of first place in the Southern Conference, a half-game ahead of idle Furman (7-1, 3-1 SoCon). The Mountaineers also extended their school-record winning streaks to 15-consecutive regular-season games and 14-straight overall.
Chattanooga fell to 5-4 overall and 2-3 in SoCon play.
Appalachian faces its final non-conference matchup of the season next Saturday when it travels to Baton Rouge, La. to face national-power LSU. Kickoff between the Mountaineers and Tigers is slated for 8 p.m. EST (7 p.m. CST) at LSU's Tiger Stadium.