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Second Half Rally Stuns Appalachian at JMU
Courtesy: Appalachian State Sports Information
Release: Saturday 09/20/2008 (ET)
Courtesy: Holt Menzies (The Appalachian)
Robert Welton ran for 92 yards and two touchdowns in Saturday's loss at JMU

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HARRISONBURG, Va. - Saturday’s meeting between FCS powerhouses Appalachian State and James Madison lived up to the billing with No. 5 JMU overcoming a 21-point halftime deficit to upend No. 1 Appalachian, 35-32, in a thrilling contest at soldout Bridgeforth Stadium.

The Mountaineers (1-2) built up their 21-0 halftime advantage by winning the field position battle and outgaining the Dukes 223-66 in the half. However, the tide quickly turned after halftime with JMU’s Scotty McGee returning the opening kick of the half 99 yards for the first six of 14-straight points for the Dukes.

Armanti Edwards led ASU with 109 yards rushing and 142 yards through the air with a touchdown pass and a scramble for a late two-point conversion. His counterpart, Rodney Landers, answered with 113 yards on the ground and 96 passing yards for the victorious Dukes. Robert Welton took over for an injured Devon Moore in the ASU backfield and rushed 17 times for 92 yards in the loss.

After McGee’s kickoff return rejuvenated the previously silent hometown crowd, Landers ripped off a 62-yard jaunt to the endzone to make the score 21-14 less than three minutes into the third quarter.

The Apps tried to quell the rally on JMU’s next possession when Leonard Love intercepted a Landers’ pass, giving ASU the ball on the JMU 34-yard line. ASU’s drive stalled out but Jason Vitaris was able to boot a 30-yard field goal through the uprights to make the score 24-14 with 6:09 left in the quarter.

Unfortunately, the three points did little to strip the Dukes of their momentum as a perfect Landers pump fake made for a wide open Griff Yancey up the middle of the field. Landers completed the play for a 35-yard touchdown to cap the two-play strike. JMU took their first lead of the evening to open up the fourth quarter scoring with 4-yard Eugene Holloman carry off left tackle to make the score 28-24 with 10:48 remaining in the contest.

The Apps appeared poised to answer and drove the ball down to the JMU 24-yard line before the JMU defense managed to strip Welton of the ball after a hard-fought 11-yard run. JMU recovered the loose ball on their own 13-yard line and 10 plays later Landers carried the ball in from the 1-yard line put JMU up 35-24 with less than three minutes to play.

ASU kept fighting as Edwards pulled a few more tricks out of his bag, engineering a 49-second drive that ended with a Welton 1-yard carry to the endzone. The Apps elected to go for two and Edwards, unable to find an open receiver, carried the ball across the goaline to put ASU within a field goal at 35-32 with 1:42 left in the contest.

The Mountaineers had two chances to recover the onside kick as JMU was whistled for an offsides infraction on the first attempt. However, the Dukes managed to recover the second attempt and a Landers quick kick on fourth down ran out the clock and ASU’s comeback hopes.

ASU scored first on a 6-yard run from Devon Moore that was set up by a Mark LeGree interception. In the second quarter, Edwards found Josh Johnson on the endline for an 11-yard strike. Welton added ASU’s third first-half touchdown with a 2-yard score with 31 seconds left in the half.

The Mountaineers will return home next weekend to host Presbyterian in a night game at Kidd Brewer Stadium. Kickoff at The Rock is scheduled for 7 p.m.

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