BOONE, N.C. ?€“ No. 7 Appalachian State University scored on each of its first eight possessions and went on to register its highest offensive output in 71 years in a 79-35 rout over archrival Western Carolina on Saturday afternoon at Kidd Brewer Stadium. With the victory, Appalachian (8-2, 4-2 SoCon) kept custody of the Old Mountain Jug for the 21st time in 23 years and moved within one victory of its third-straight Southern Conference championship.
Appalachian's 79 points and 743 yards were both the second-highest totals in school history, behind only the 788 yards amassed in a 115-0 win at Piedmont on Sept. 26, 1936.
The Mountaineers actually trailed 7-3 early in the first quarter after Western Carolina (1-9, 0-6 SoCon) answered an ASU field goal with a nine-play, 80-yard touchdown drive on its opening drive.
From there, however, it was all ASU, as it found the end zone on each of its next seven drives to take a commanding 52-21 lead less than two minutes into the second half. In all, Appalachian scored 10 touchdowns and kicked a field goal in its 14 possessions an added an 11th touchdown on a 65-yard interception return by Buck Buchanan Award candidate Corey Lynch. ASU did not punt once.
The trio of Walter Payton Award candidate running back Kevin Richardson, quarterback Armanti Edwards and wide receiver Hans Batichon. Richardson rushed for a career-high 215 yards on just 22 carries (9.8 ypr) and scored touchdowns from four, 42 and four yards out. The senior upped his career rushing total to 4,383 yards, just 26 shy of ASU's all-time record of 4,409, set by John Settle (1983-86) and broke Settle's school record for all-purpose yardage by upping his career total to 5,702 yards, 137 better than Settle's previous record mark.
Edwards completed a career-high 26 passes on just attempts for 295 yards and accounted for a career-best five touchdowns (two passing, three rushing) in just two-and-a-half quarters of play. Both of his touchdown passes (seven and 10 yards) went to Batichon, who hauled in a career-high seven passes for 114 yards.
In the first half alone, the Mountaineers racked up 474 yards of offense, including Richardson's 145 on the ground and Edwards' 257 through the air, and scored seven times in seven possessions. The 45 points were the most in a half for the Apps since they scored 45 in the first half of a 64-14 win over West Virginia Tech in 2001.
Defensively, ASU got a season-high four interceptions from Lynch, linebackers D.J. Smith and Pierre Banks and cornerback Jerome Touchstone. Lynch's interception was the 21st of his career, moving him alone into second place on Appalachian's all-time list, behind only Larry Harbin (25 - 1961-64). The touchdown was the third of his illustrious career.
Appalachian needs a win over Chattanooga in next Saturday's regular-season finale to earn a share of the SoCon title with Wofford, which clinched no worse than a tie for the title and the league's automatic berth to the NCAA Division I playoffs with a 42-16 victory at UTC on Saturday. Elon and Georgia Southern were eliminated from championship contention with losses to The Citadel and Furman, respectively, on Saturday. ASU is bidding to become the first team to win three-consecutive SoCon titles since Georgia Southern won six-straight from 1997-2002.
Saturday's contest versus UTC is set for 3:30 p.m. It will be televised regionally on SportSouth.
NOTES: Appalachian moved to 17-0 all-time when Richardson rushes for 100 yards and 18-0 when Lynch intercepts a pass ?€¦ ASU had a 100-yard rusher and 100-yard receiver in the same game for the first time since Edwards ran for 140 and Richardson had 101 receiving in last-season's 27-20, double-overtime victory at Georgia Southern ?€¦ the 114 combined points were the most in 80 all-time meetings between Appalachian and Western Carolina and the most in any ASU game since 115 in a 59-56 loss at Chattanooga in 2004 ?€¦ every non-injured, non-redshirting player saw action for the Mountaineers except for punter Neil Young ?€¦ game-time temperature was 43 degrees but fell to 36 by the end of the game ?€¦ the sell-out crowd of 27,977 was the largest to ever witness the Battle for the Old Mountain Jug ?€¦ Appalachian's five-largest home crowds ever have come in this season's five home games.