RICHARDSON GOES FOR 4, APPS GET NO. 2
by Appalachian Sports Information

December 15, 2006 - CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. Ė Junior Kevin Richardson scored all four touchdowns to lead No. 1 Appalachian State University to its second-straight NCAA Division I Football National Championship with a 28-17 triumph over No. 3 Massachusetts on Friday evening at Finley Stadium.

The Mountaineers rushed for 285 yards, with Richardson tallying 179 yards of the load. Richardson’s 179 yards were the most given up by the Minuteman since November 9, 2002.

The Elizabethtown, N.C. native also set an NCAA Division I Football Championship Subdivision (formerly Division I-AA) single-season record with 30 rushing touchdowns in 15 games this season. The previous record was held by Colgate’s Jamaal Branch, who scored 29 touchdowns in 16 games in 2003.

Rounding out Richardson's record-breaking day and season, the Southern Conference Offensive Player of the year finsihed with 1,676 yards rushing, good for a new single-season school record. His 1,676 yards top the 1,661 tallied by John Settle in 1986.

Despite Richardson's MVP performance, it was UMass runing back Steve Baylark that set the tone early. On the first series of the game, Baylark ran for 23 yards, setting up a one-yard touchdown dive by tailback Matt Lawrence that gave the Minutemen an early 7-0 lead. Baylark went on to rush for 62 yards on nine carries in the first quarter alone.

Although Baylark was the performer of the period, Appalachian answered in the final 1:15 of the first quarter with Richardson’s longest run of the night, a 45-yard touchdown scamper that knotted the game at 7-7.

After a nearly scoreless second quarter, Richardson ran in from six yards out for his second score of the night to give Appalachian a 14-7 lead with 49 seconds left in the first half.

Midway through the third period, Massachusetts took advantage of Edwards' only mistake of the game, an interception deep inside UMass territory.

The Minutemen took advantage of the miscue, marching 81 yards in 11 plays and tying the game at 14 on a 17-yard pass from Liam Coen to Bard Listorti with 4:22 to play in the third quarter.

Appalachian took the lead back for good on its next possession, as Richardson took it in for the third time a from four yards out, giving the defending champs a 21-14 lead with 13:22 left to play in the contest.

The Minutemen charged down the field on their next possession, but the Mountaineer defense buckled down once UMass crossed midfield and the Minutemen had to settle for a 42-yard field goal, leaving the Apps with a 21-17 advantage with 8:46 left in the game.

Appalachian was able to melt all but 1:51 off the clock after the UMass field goal with a 14-play, 80-yard drive, capped by Richardson's fourth TD, a two-yard dive that effectively sealed ASU's second-straight national title.

On the ensuing drive, all-America safety Corey Lynch crushed all hopes of a Minuteman comeback with his third interception in as many games since returning 28 days following a severe elbow injury.

Two kneel-downs by backup quarterback Trey Elder set off a wild celebration on the Finley Stadium turf, as Black and Gold faithful filled the field to share in the revelry of ASU's second-straight national championship.

Appalachian finished the season with a 14-game winning streak and a 14-1 overall record, setting school records for wins in a season and consecutive victories. UMass ended its run at 13-2 overall.

Edwards completed the most prolific season by a freshman quarterback in ASU history by totaling 227 total yards (146 passing, 81 rushing). Senior William Mayfield and junior Dexter Jackson each caught three passes for 44 yards.

Lynch and Jeremy Wiggins led the defense with seven total tackles apiece. Wiggins finished with eight total tackes, while Lynch added a tackle for loss, interception and pass breakup.

Baylark tallied 133 of UMass' 165 yards on the ground and Coen completed 20-of-33 passes for 221 yards and a touchdowns to lead the Minutemen offensively.

The overflow crowd of 22,808, consisting of upwards of 15,000 Black and Gold-clad fans, set a Finley Stadium record and marked the 12th time in 15 games this season that the Mountaineers have played in front of a capacity crowd.

NOTES: ASU moved to 2-0 all-time in instant replay challenges. Head coach Jerry Moore challeneged the spot on a play originally ruled a first down in the third quarter. Replays confirmed that Baylark was down short of the first-down marker, setting up fourth-and-one. However, UMass got the first down on a QB sneak by Coen on the next play ... Richardson recorded his 15th-career 100-yard rushing game. ASU is 15-0 when Richardson rushes for 100-plus yards ... The Mountaineers’ back-to-back national championships marks the fifth time a team won back-to-back FCS national championships and the first time since Georgia Southern won consecutive titles in 1999 and 2000.