BOONE, N.C. ?- Trey Elder totaled 298 yards of offense and Walter Payton Award candidate Kevin Richardson set career highs with seven receptions for 122 yards and two touchdowns to lead top-ranked Appalachian State University to a 34-21 victory over Northern Arizona on Saturday afternoon at Kidd Brewer Stadium.
An overflow crowd of 27,104, the second-largest in KBS history, saw Appalachian (3-0) rack up a season-high 429 yards of total offense in the win.
However, the Mountaineers' 17th-straight victory and 29th in-a-row at home didn't come easy, as Northern Arizona (1-2) pushed the Apps from the beginning. NAU forced the Mountaineers into three-straight three-and-out series to start the game and were out-gaining the Apps 125-19 at one point en route to a 3-0 lead through one quarter. The damage could have been worse, but the Black and Gold defense held Northern Arizona to just three points on two trips inside the ASU 15-yard line in the opening period.
Appalachian got on track at the end of the first quarter, as it marched into Lumberjack territory before Elder found Richardson on a 34-yard catch-and-run to give ASU a 7-3 lead on the first play of the second period.
After the Lumberjacks responded with another field goal, Elder marched the Mountaineers right back to paydirt, going 59 yards in nine plays, culminating with a 12-yard touchdown pass to Hans Batichon that made it 14-6.
Thanks to a blocked field goal on the final play of the first half by Jerome Touchstone, Appalachian took the 14-6 advantage into the locker room. The field-goal block was Appalachian's fourth in three games this season.
Julian Rauch capped the Mountaineers' first two possessions of the second half with field goals to stretch the ASU lead to 20-6. However, NAU drew back within seven points on an acrobatic 18-yard touchdown pass from Lance Kriesien to Skyler Moore with less than three minutes remaining in the third quarter.
The score remained 20-13 until Richardson hauled in his second touchdown reception of the afternoon, a 47-yarder from Elder that gave ASU a 27-13 advantage with less than 10 minutes to play. Five minutes later, Appalachian put the game on ice when Trey Hennessee separated NAU punt returner K.J. Gerard from the ball and Cortez Gilbert scooped up the loose ball and returned it 32 yards to give ASU a 34-13 lead.
A one-yard touchdown rush by Kriesien and two-point conversion in the waning minutes accounted for the final margin.
Making his second-straight start in place of banged up starter Armanti Edwards, Elder completed 15-of-22 passes without an interception for 216 yards and three scores. He also ran 19 times for 82 yards.
Richardson went over the 1,000-yard receiving mark for his illustrious career with the 122-yard performance. He added 58 yards on 15 carries to finish with 180 all-purpose yards, the fifth-highest output of his career.
Jacque Roman led the Apps' defensive effort with a game-high 14 tackles. Corey Lynch added 10 stops and a pass break-up and defensive tackle Anthony Williams chipped in with nine tackles, including two behind the line of scrimmage and a sack.
Kriesien led the Lumberjacks with 300 yards of total offense (171 passing, 129 rushing).
Appalachian opens defense of its back-to-back Southern Conference championships when it visits perennial league-title contender Wofford next Saturday at 3:30 p.m. The contest will be televised live on SportSouth.
NOTES: In addition to holding the nation's longest overall winning streak in Division I and the nation's longest home winning streak in Division I FCS (Football Championship Subdivision - formerly Division I-AA), Appalachian has also won 23-straight games versus FCS competition ... ASU's last loss to an FCS opponent was a 34-31 setback at Furman on Oct. 8, 2005 ... Saturday's attendance is second only to last week's crowd of 28,802 in KBS history ... the Mountaineers evened their all-time record versus opponents from the Big Sky Conference at 2-2 ... Justin Woazeah's interception in the fourth quarter was the eighth of his career, moving him within one of ASU's all-time top 10.