?€“ Appalachian State University captured its first outright Southern Conference championship since 1995 in style, as sixth-ranked Appalachian hammered Elon, 52-14, on Saturday evening at Rhodes Stadium.
In what was a complete demolition from the start, Appalachian (8-3, 6-1 SoCon) scored on each of its first six possessions to take a resounding 38-0 lead. In fact, the ASU offense didn't stall until it came up short on a fourth-and-six draw play from the Elon 21 yard line nearly 10 minutes into the third quarter and didn't send out its punting unit until the final period.
The Mountaineers were just as dominant on defense, as it held Elon (3-8, 0-7 SoCon) to only one first down in the first half and 43 total yards through three quarters. The Phoenix's first touchdown came on a 95-yard kickoff return when trailing 45-0 in the fourth quarter and their only other score came on a 13-yard pass on the last play of the game.
In all, Appalachian out-gained Elon 445-138, which included advantages of 226-42 through the air and 219-96 on the ground.
Running back Kevin Richardson scored three of the Mountaineers' four first-half touchdowns to help lead the Apps to a 31-0 halftime advantage. Richardson finished the evening with 176 all-purpose yards, including 89 on the ground to push him over the 1,000-yard plateau for the season. His 1,007 rushing yards are the most by a Mountaineer sophomore since Terrence McCall amassed an ASU sophomore-record 1,242 in 1998.
Walter Payton Award candidate Richie Williams amassed 149 yards of total offense (95 passing, 54 rushing) and threw for two touchdowns in just one half of action. He needs just 137 yards in the postseason to break the SoCon total offense record of 8,711 yards set by East Tennessee State's Todd Wells from 1997-2000.
Backup signal-caller Trey Elder was just as impressive, as he completed 7-of-11 passes for 131 yards and a pair of touchdowns in a quarter-and-a-half of work.
Richardson, Zach Johnson, William Mayfield and T.J. Courman all caught touchdown passes with Johnson and Mayfield leading all receivers with four catches apiece.
Defensively, Pierre Banks led ASU's staunch defensive effort with seven tackles, while backup defensive back Titus Howard returned his first-career interception 70 yards for the Mountaineers' final score.
Appalachian, almost certainly assured of at least a first-round home game, will find out its exact postseason fate when the NCAA unveils the 16-team Division I-AA Playoffs field between 1 and 2 p.m. Sunday on ESPNEWS. ASU is hoping for one of the bracket's top four seeds, which would guarantee that it would be at Kidd Brewer Stadium for at least the first two rounds of the playoffs, and maybe further should it continue to advance through the field.
NOTES: The announced crowd of 6,472 at Elon's Rhodes Stadium included approximately 2,000 raucous ASU fans ?€¦ SoCon commissioner Geoff Cabe presented the conference championship trophy to ASU head coach Jerry Moore and the Mountaineers in the Mountaineer locker room following the game ?€¦ after dodging the full brunt a week ago, Moore suffered a direct hit on this week's Gatorade bath from his team ?€¦ Appalachian held advantages of 262-22 in total yards and 17-1 in first downs in the first half ?€¦ third-string quarterback Chase Laws saw his first action under center for the Apps ?€¦ first-round playoff tickets will be on sale at www.GoASU.com
beginning at approximately 3 p.m. on Sunday ?€¦ tickets cost $20 for adults and just $5 for ASU students (ID required at gate) and children ages 3-17.