CHARLESTON, S.C. ?€“ Quarterback Armanti Edwards rushed for a school-record 291 yards and led No. 9 Appalachian State University into a virtual tie for first place in the wild Southern Conference with 45-24 victory at The Citadel on Saturday.
Edwards' 291 yards came on just 21 carries (13.9 ypr), including touchdown runs of 80 (a career long and Appalachian's longest play of the season) and 25 yards. In the process, the sophomore also broke ASU's career record for rushing yards by a quarterback, needing just 20 games to amass 1,889 yards on the ground and obliterate the previous record of 1,621 racked up by current Mountaineer quarterbacks coach Scott Satterfield from 1992-95.
Combined with losses by Wofford (38-35 vs. Georgia Southern) and Elon (52-49 at Furman), Appalachian (7-2, 3-2 SoCon) has moved back into a virtual tie for first place in its pursuit of a third-straight SoCon title. ASU is tied in the loss column with Elon (6-3, 4-2 SoCon), Georgia Southern (7-2, 4-2 SoCon) and Wofford (7-3, 4-2 SoCon) atop the SoCon standings.
Thanks in large part to Edwards' 341 yards of total offense (211 rushing, 130 passing) in the first half alone, the Mountaineers jumped out to a 31-14 halftime lead.
The Citadel (5-4, 3-3 SoCon) scored the first 10 points of the second half to cut the Mountaineer advantage to 31-24, but Edwards and the Apps dominated the fourth quarter to earn their 13th win in the last 14 tries versus the Bulldogs.
Clinging to the seven-point lead, Walter Payton Award candidate Kevin Richardson broke off a 43-yard run on the second play of the final period to move Appalachian inside the Citadel 10 yard line. Two plays later, Richardson dove in from a yard out to stretch the ASU advantage back to 14 at 38-24.
After forcing a three-and-out, the Mountaineers sealed the triumph with a 10-play, 70-yard drive, capped by Edwards' 25-yard touchdown run with 8:16 remaining in the ballgame.
From there, the only drama left was whether Edwards would break the ASU single-game rushing record set by Ritchie Melchor, who rushed for 267 (on 36 carries) versus Chattanooga on Oct. 28, 1989. On third-and-15 from the ASU 23 with about five minutes remaining, Edwards ended the suspense by breaking off a 29-yard run to grab the record and end his spectacular day.
In addition to the rushing records, Edwards also completed 10-of-20 passes for 148 yards, giving him 439 yards of total offense, the fourth-highest mark in school history (and the most by anyone not named Richie Williams).
Spurred by Edwards and Richardson (68 yards on 14 carries), Appalachian rushed for 439 yards en route to 587 total yards, its most since posting 594 yards in last season's 56-21 win at Chattanooga.
Defensively, the Mountaineers were led by true freshman linebacker D.J. Smith, who racked up a game-high 16 tackles (1.5 for loss) and returned his first-career interception 23 yards for a touchdown early in the second quarter. Defensive end Tony Robertson chipped in by being in on 1.5 of ASU's five sacks.
Appalachian looks to move a step closer to its third-straight SoCon title next Saturday when it hosts archrival Western Carolina at Kidd Brewer Stadium. The Battle for the Old Mountain Jug kicks off at 3:30 p.m. and will be televised nationally on ESPNU on tape delay beginning at 10:30 p.m.
NOTES: The Mountaineers topped 30 points for the ninth-straight game, extending its school record ?€¦ the previous ASU record for consecutive 30-point games was six, set last season ?€¦ Appalachian outscored The Citadel 21-3 in the second quarter, upping ASU's scoring advantage in the second period this season to 135-30 ?€¦ the Apps moved to 52-12 in games played in November under head coach Jerry Moore ?€¦ Appalachian upped its record to 14-4 in games played away from home since 2005.