ELON, N.C. -- Led by Walter Payton Award candidate Kevin Richardson and senior quarterback Trey Elder, No. 5 Appalachian State University ran for 365 yards - its highest total in seven years - en route to a 49-32 triumph over No. 24 Elon on Saturday at sold-out Rhodes Stadium.
Richardson registered his first 100-yard day of the season with 158 yards on 26 carries and Elder chipped in with a career-high 115 yards on 18 carries. The Mountaineers' 365 rushing yards were its most since racking up a school-record 424 in a 52-0 win over VMI on Nov. 4, 2000.
Trailing 10-7 late in the second quarter, Appalachian (4-1, 1-1 Southern Conference) turned the tide of the game when Elon made an errant snap on a punt from its 45 yard line and ASU's Corey Lynch blocked the kick, giving the Mountaineers possession on Elon's 22. The blocked kick was the Apps' fifth in five games this season, good for tops in the nation.
Two plays later, Elder ran it in from 14 yards out to give ASU a 14-10 halftime advantage.
The score remained 14-10 until 3:32 to go in the third quarter, when Elder scored the last of his three rushing touchdowns from six yards out to stretch the Mountaineer lead to 21-10. But thanks to an 83-yard return on the ensuing kickoff by Michael Mayers, the Phoenix needed just three plays to cut the Apps' lead back to four points.
The final period, however, was all ASU. Touchdown runs from Devon Moore and Richardson sandwiched a 100-yard kickoff return by Mayers to give Appalachian a 35-24 advantage with 5:15 to go.
Two snaps after Richardson's touchdown, Titus Howard put a dagger in Elon's upset bid when he intercepted a Scott Riddle pass and returned it 41 yards for a touchdown that gave the Mountaineers a commanding 42-24 lead.
Elon cut the deficit back to 10 points at 42-32 with a six-play, 67-yard touchdown drive and two-point conversion, but following a recovered onside kick, ASU sealed the win by marching 39 yards in three plays, capped by a 24-yard touchdown run on a reverse to Dexter Jackson.
In all, Appalachian rolled up 526 yards of total offense, while holding Elon (2-2, 0-1 SoCon) and its top-ranked passing attack to just 371 yards, including just 118 after halftime.
The Mountaineers' sterling defensive effort was led by defensive end Tim Washington. Making his first start at ASU in place of a banged-up Gary Tharrington, Washington tallied three-and-a-half sacks for a loss of 22 yards to go along with seven tackles and a quarterback hurry. Cornerback Justin Woazeah led the Apps with nine tackles while Lynch added an interception in the end zone to go along with his punt block.
Mayers led the Phoenix with 14 receptions for 162 yards and a touchdown while setting SoCon records for kick-return (225) and all-purpose (387) yardage. Riddle completed 32-of-51 passes for 307 yards. He tossed two touchdowns and two interceptions.
Appalachian tackles its final non-conference opponent of the regular season next week when it welcomes Gardner-Webb to Kidd Brewer Stadium. Kickoff for the sold-out homecoming matchup is set for 2:30 p.m.
NOTES: The crowd of 13,100 was the largest in Rhodes Stadium history and marked the 14th time in the last 16 regular-season games that Appalachian has played in front of a capacity crowd ?€¦ The Mountaineers moved to 15-0 all-time when Richardson rushes for 100 yards ?€¦ Richardson surpassed Damon Scott (3,800 yds. ?€“ 1993-96) for second on ASU's all-time rushing list ?€¦ with 3,808 rushing yards for his illustrious career, Richardson needs just 602 yards to surpass John Settle's school record of 4,409 ?€¦ Elder moved to 6-1 all-time as a starter ?€¦ head coach Jerry Moore announced following the game that starting quarterback Armanti Edwards, who did not dress for Saturday's contest (shoulder), will likely not play next Saturday versus Gardner-Webb ?€¦ Appalachian moved to 13-0 in its last 13 games immediately proceeding a loss ?€¦ ASU has not lost back-to-back games since the first two outings of the 2003 season ?€¦ Howard's INT return for a touchdown was the second of his career ?€¦ he returned a pickoff 70 yards for a score at Elon in 2005 ?€¦ Lynch's kick block was his fifth (four field goals, one punt) in his last 12 games.