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ASU Wins 35-31 Quarterfinal Thriller
Courtesy: Appalachian State Sports Information
Release: Saturday 12/05/2009 (ET)
Courtesy: Dave Mayo (Appalachian, '83)
Matt Cline's touchdown catch with 10 seconds left was the difference in ASU's heart-stopping 35-31 win.

RICHMOND, Va. - Armanti Edwards threw a four-yard touchdown pass to Matt Cline with 10 seconds remaining to give No. 5 Appalachian State University a heart-stopping 35-31 victory over fourth-seeded Richmond in the NCAA Division I Football Championship quarterfinal on Saturday evening at UR Stadium.

The thrilling win lifted Appalachian (11-2) to next week's semifinal round where it will face top-seeded Montana (13-0) in Missoula, Mont. The game will be played either Friday at 8 p.m. ET on ESPN2 or Saturday at 4 p.m. ET on ESPN. The day/time for the game will be announced on Sunday.

ASU earned its fourth semifinal berth in five years by overcoming a 10-point deficit in the final 10 minutes of the contest. Richmond (11-2), which trailed for only 1:11 of the game's 60 minutes, took a 24-14 lead on Andrew Howard's 27-yard field goal with 9:23 to go in the ballgame.

Held mostly in check to that point and needing a quick score, Edwards opened Appalachian's ensuing possession with completions of 32 and 27 yards to Cline and B.J. Frazier. Devon Moore capped the three-play, 45-second drive with a five-yard touchdown run to bring the Mountaineers within three points at 24-21.

Appalachian's defense followed the score by forcing Richmond's first three-and-out since the first quarter and ASU took possession on its own 27. Moore almost single-handedly gave the Mountaineers their first lead of the game by picking up 67 of the 73 yards on the ensuing drive and the Apps grabbed the 28-24 advantage on Edwards' three-yard touchdown dive with 4:32 to go.

The Mountaineers were seemingly in position to run out the clock when their defense forced another three-and-out on the following series and Travaris Cadet cleanly fielded UR's punt at the ASU 11 yard line. However, Richmond's Eric McBride stripped the ball right out of Cadet's hands and took it eight yards for a touchdown that gave the Spiders an improbable 31-28 lead with 3:26 remaining.

But all that Richmond's final score in the 81-year history of UR Stadium did was set the stage for another chapter in the illustrious career of Edwards. The following possession did not start well for Edwards and Co., as a holding penalty and an incomplete pass put the Mountaineers in a second-and-20 situation, 80 yards away from a go-ahead score.

The game-winning drive began in earnest when Edwards hit Brian Quick on back-to-back completions of 13 and 15 yards to give ASU a first down near midfield. Spurred by two more consecutive completions and a 15-yard face-mask penalty, the Mountaineers moved the ball to the 18 yard line, where they ran the ball three-straight times to pick up a critical first down at the ASU 8 with 39 seconds left to play.

Appalachian picked up four yards on back-to-back runs to set up a third-and-goal play with 15 seconds remaining. With no timeouts remaining, Edwards found Cline set up just beyond the goal line for the go-ahead score to cap the 12-play, 70-yard drive.

The Spiders returned the ensuing kickoff to the 45 yard line but Malcolm Bennett sacked UR quarterback Eric Ward on the game's final play to set off a wild celebration on the ASU sideline and with the thousands of Mountaineer fans that made up a majority of the 7,272 fans in attendance on a cold, wet, sometimes snowy night.

Edwards finished the evening with 267 yards of total offense, including 216 on 21-of-33 passing and 51 on 12 rushes, and three total touchdowns (two rushing, one passing). However, the majority of his damage came in the final 9:23 of the ballgame, when he was 7-of-8 for 106 yards and ran five times for 20 more.

Not to be overshadowed by Edwards' heroics was the performance turned in by Moore, who carried 22 times for 175 yards, the seventh-highest rushing total in ASU playoff history, and two scores. Like Edwards, the bulk of Moore's yards came in crunch time as he ran for 73 yards in the final 9:23.

ASU's 35 points, 228 rushing yards and 444 total yards were all the most surrendered by defending national champion Richmond this season. Moore's 175 yards were the most gained by any player against the stout UR defense in 2009.

Defensively, linebackers Jacque Roman and D.J. Smith led ASU with 10 tackles apiece.

With the comeback, Appalachian moved to an amazing 6-8 all-time in NCAA Division I FCS/I-AA playoff games that it has trailed after three quarters. It marked the first time that ASU won when trailing after three quarters in a postseason game since it overcame a 16-14 deficit to defeat Northern Iowa, 21-16, in the 2005 national championship game.

NOTES: Appalachian's win was its 11-straight after opening the season with consecutive five-point losses to Conference USA champion East Carolina and Southland Conference co-champion McNeese State ... ASU moved to 5-3 all-time versus Richmond, including 3-1 in postseason play ... the Mountaineers also moved to 9-2 all-time in the postseason versus current members of the Colonial Athletic Association ... Appalachian has won 15 of its last 16 postseason games and avenged the only loss during that stretch, a 33-13 setback to Richmond in last year's national quarterfinals ... Devin Radford's 46-yard kickoff return to open the second half and set up ASU's second touchdown of the evening was the longest of his career ... Moore's 100-yard effort was his sixth of the season and the 24th in ASU playoff history ... Blake Elder made an amazing 24-yard catch while flat on his back after slipping on the UR Stadium grass in the second quarter.

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