Exactly nine years after upsetting Michigan in the Big House, Appalachian State proved that their program’s rich history cannot be defined by a single win.
The Mountaineers traveled to Knoxville to start the season on a Thursday night with an upset on their mind. Ranked #9 in the country, the Tennessee Volunteers struggled heavily against Scott Satterfield’s squad as the Mountaineers pounded away on the ground. Running back Marcus Cox pitched in a great performance (24 attempts, 115 yards, 4.8 YPC) while quarterback Taylor Lamb was efficient through the air, keeping Appalachian State’s offense balanced.
Tennessee failed to control the tempo at home and seemed shocked by the Mountaineers’ ability to compete in the trenches as Appalachian State brought relentless pressure to Tennessee quarterback Joshua Dobbs and opened up huge rushing lanes for Cox throughout the game.
While the Mountaineers were athletically outmatched, their ability to execute the option with precision on offense and pursue ball carriers at precise angles on the defensive side of the ball allowed the Mountaineers to match the Volunteers’ superior speed and strength.
The Mountaineers’ upset hopes were spoiled in overtime through a tough bit of luck. Tennessee quarterback Joshua Dobbs scrambled towards the end zone but was stopped just a yard short on a violent hit. He fumbled the football but Volunteer uber-athlete Jalen Hurd was able to recover the fumble in the end zone to secure a touchdown for Tennessee.
Appalachian State’s attempts to even the score were denied after an elaborate, deceptive passing attempt into the end zone fell short, leaving the final score at 13-20 in favor of the Volunteers.
While Mountaineer fans will have a hard time swallowing the loss, Sun Belt programs have certainly been put on notice following Appalachian State’s incredible showing against the #9 team in the country.
Appalachian State will host Old Dominion out of Conference USA on September 10th before the Miami Hurricanes travel to Boone on September 17th.