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ASU Overcomes Slow Start to Defeat Samford, 35-24
Courtesy: Appalachian State Sports Information
Release: Saturday 10/11/2008 (ET)
Courtesy: Keith Cline
Armanti Edwards

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. - No. 2 Appalachian State University rebounded from a sluggish start to defeat Samford, 35-24, on Saturday afternoon at Seibert Stadium.

A combination of Appalachian miscues and Samford trickery accounted for ASU falling into an early14-7 hole. ASU turned the ball over twice in the first quarter (one which led to SU’s first score) and Samford opened up the bag of tricks with attempts at an onside kick, direct snap to the halfback, halfback pass to the quarterback and, most notably, a fake field-goal that extended the Bulldogs’ second touchdown drive.

The damage could have been even worse, as a fumbled kickoff return gave the Bulldogs possession at the ASU 24 late in the opening period. However, after the Mountaineers’ special-teams mistakes in the first quarter, it ironically was a special-teams play that turned the tide, as Cortez Gilbert blocked a 32-yard Samford field-goal attempt on the third play of the second period to keep the Apps’ deficit at just one touchdown.

The second quarter was all Appalachian (4-2, 2-0 SoCon), as quarterback Armanti Edwards directed scoring drives of 78, 67 and 52 yards and the Mountaineer defense held Samford to 16 yards and no first downs to take a 28-14 halftime lead. In the first half alone, Edwards completed 18-of-20 passes for 258 yards and three touchdowns.

Samford cut the ASU advantage to 28-17 with a 22-yard field goal with 5:30 to play in the third quarter, but Edwards put the game away with a 25-yard touchdown run just over three minutes into the final period. Samford added a one-yard touchdown run by quarterback Dustin Taliaferro with 2:02 to go to account for the final margin.

Edwards finished with a season-high 370 yards of total offense and four touchdowns (three passing, one rushing) on 22-of-29 passing for 307 yards and 13 rushes for 63 yards. His top target was CoCo Hillary, who caught eight balls for 78 yards and two scores.

Defensively, linebacker D.J. Smith led the way with a game-high 16 tackles, 12 of which were solo. Fellow ‘backer Jacque Roman added 10 stops, including a 13-yard sack, and broke up a pass while Gilbert made eight tackles to go along with two pass break-ups and the critical field-goal block.

Chris Evans led Samford (3-3, 1-2 SoCon) with 144 yards and a touchdown on the ground.

Appalachian closes out its only two-game road trip of the season when it travels to Southern Conference rival Georgia Southern next Saturday. The contest, which will be televised across the Southeast on SportSouth, kicks off at 3 p.m.

NOTES: With a 16-yard completion to T.J. Courman in the first quarter, Edwards became just the seventh player in NCAA Division I history (FCS or FBS) with 5,000 passing yards and 3,000 rushing yards in a season, joining Louisiana-Lafayette’s Brian Mitchell (1986-89), Morehead State’s David Dinkins (1997-2000), Indiana’s Antwaan Randle El (2001-04), Texas’ Vince Young (2003-05) and Missouri’s Brad Smith (2002-05) ... the game was Samford’s first-ever SoCon tilt at home ... Saturday’s attendance of 10,670 was the third-largest in 6,700-seat Seibert Stadium history ... ASU has played in front of capacity crowds in 23 of its last 28 regular-season games ... after not registering a receiving touchdown in the first 19 games of his career, Hillary now has three touchdown catches in the past two games  ... senior Billy Riddle made his first start in two years at safety in place of injured Mark LeGree ... Riddle missed the entire 2007 season while doing missionary work in war-ravaged Sudan ... Appalachian is 2-0 in SoCon play for only the third time in the past six seasons and the 18th time in its 37 years in the conference.

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