On September 1, 2007, at Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor, Michigan, Appalachian State played against the 5th ranked Michigan Wolverines in front of 109,218 fans to begin the 2007 college football season.
Entering the game the Mountaineers were coming off their second straight FCS National Championship. Michigan entered the game with veteran playmakers across the board as seniors Chad Henne, Mike Hart, Jake Long, and Shawn Crable turned down the NFL to not only snap the losing streak against Ohio State, but to bring Lloyd Carr his second National Championship as Michigan’s head coach.
The contest was expected to make history as the Big Ten Network’s first live telecast. App State was supposed to be merely a footnote in Michigan’s quest for a national championship and a novelty answer for who took part in the Big Ten Network’s first televised football game. But once the teams met in the Big House something entirely different played out on the field.
Appalachian State 34. Michigan 32.
This Friday marks the 10-year anniversary of the upset. To celebrate the occasion, Underdog Dynasty shares Appalachian State’s story from those who were involved and witnessed the biggest upset in college football history. All roles assigned to the individuals in this story are at the time this game was played.
Thanks to the Black and Gold podcast and many others for helping me track down interviews and taking the time to share their story.
David Jackson, Appalachian State play-by-play radio analyst: The expectations for the year were very high. The team was coming off their second national championship and returned a lot of firepower on the offensive side of the ball. Michigan was sniffing a national championship right from the get go too.
Justin Woazeah, Appalachian State cornerback: Once you win a championship the pressure is on to have another great season.
Mike Flynn, Sports Information Director: Anything short of a national championship would have been a disappointment.
David Jackson: This game was on the schedule [then] off the schedule [then] on the schedule [again]. They want to play us, they don’t. Now they finally lock it up. The game didn’t get scheduled until February.
Mike Flynn: Jay Sutton was having a hell of a time scheduling games. I happened to see an article about Michigan getting dropped so I forwarded the article to Jay. He got back to me and said "thanks, I’ll give them a call this afternoon." Frankly, the game came about on dumb luck.
David Jackson: I thought it was interesting that Lloyd Carr made a comment weeks prior to the game during one of Michigan’s press conferences that App State’s got a new offensive coordinator so "we really don’t know what we can expect." App didn’t have an offensive coordinator. Back then they went OC by-committee for three years including the two previous years. Kinda felt like Michigan may have been sleeping on us. They had Oregon next week too.
Justin Woazeah: Some people on the team were overlooking the Michigan game thinking we were going to lose. Me and a few others didn’t accept that. Practice was intense. There was a lot of fights. Everybody had an edge. We were ready. I just remember a very intense week.
David Jackson: Because of the numbers they lost on the defensive side there was a thought that App could move the ball. The question was, because of Jake Long, Chad Henne, and Mike Hart, could we keep them from moving the ball?
The Thursday prior to the game we had a massive thunderstorm roll through during practice time in Boone, which essentially wiped out our last practice. Normally App doesn’t do a walkthrough at a stadium so because they had the Thursday practice wiped out, the coaching staff at the last minuted changed their routine for Friday.
When the team landed in Ypsilanti, we drove straight to the Big House and practiced there and held a typical Thursday practice at the Big House on Friday afternoon. I thought that was key because it settled everybody down. When you walk into a stadium that’s 100,000 plus, versus playing in stadiums that are 25-30,000 at max, there’s a culture shock.
Steve Brown, play-by-play radio analyst: It kinda shocked me how big the stadium was. The little things about the seats, the bleachers, concrete, you could tell that it was a really old and historic stadium. It was impressive. Growing up as a college football fanatic I was really excited to be there. I remember putting on my headphones exercising in the Big House thinking this is pretty cool.
Justin Woazeah: My dad is actually a Michigan fan and he told me to not get my hopes up.
Steve Brown: Before the game the crowd was so nice and welcoming and I’m sitting here thinking, "they're just being nice to us because they think their gonna crush us."
Greg Abee, Appalachian State student: The Michigan fans were great. Everybody was super nice. Walking through the tailgate, everyone was offering food and alcohol, and asking what App State was about because they didn’t know who we were. I was almost a little disappointed we didn’t get a little more heat while walking through their fraternity houses.
Mike Flynn: If you listen to Gameday that morning, Kirk Herbstreit was talking about how Michigan shouldn’t play teams like Appalachian State because it would be over in the first quarter.
Greg Abee: I didn’t have a lot of expectations. I was just hoping we didn’t get crushed and keep it within 21 so we didn’t become fodder for College Gameday.
David Jackson: A bulk of this team had been at LSU a couple years before so they’ve been in big places but this was the biggest place, this was the grand stage in college football. It made the hair stand up on my arms for sure.
Justin Woazeah: LSU was way more intimidating. They had that tiger looking at you. I remember I had people in the stands that I was worried about emotionally because of how they were talking and watching. Here, the fans were far [away] so they didn’t impact me as much.
Steve Brown: I went down for the warm up and I told David these guys are strong but they don’t look as lean and as fast as LSU did. They were big and strong, but to me they looked a bit out of shape.
Justin Woazeah:I saw Chad throw the ball from one side of the field to the other side of the field.
David Jackson: I was really excited to see our team handle the moment. As a 1-AA team you have those brief snapshots in a season to measure yourself. Whether it’s playing Michigan, NC State, Wake Forest, LSU, whoever it is, you’ve got that one 60 minute snapshot to say "We think we’re pretty good, but are we really good or are we just good in the backyard we play in."
Justin Woazeah: All respect to Michigan, but I don’t think they had anybody on their team that intimidated anybody on our team.
Michigan’s first drive of the game results in a Mike Hart touchdown to give Michigan a 7-0 lead early in the first quarter.
David Jackson: This could be a long afternoon.
Greg Abee: They just walked right down the field and I thought to myself, this is not going to be pretty.
Justin Woazeah: If somebody comes [out early] and they score and you do your best, "Okay it’s going to be a long day," but when you can look and see that we made five different mistakes, of course they were going to score.
Appalachian State quickly responded as Armanti Edwards threw a 68-yard touchdown pass to Dexter Jackson to even the score at 7-7 with 10:55 left in the first quarter. Michigan’s next drive would result in the game’s first punt after a Pierre Banks sack.
David Jackson: The speed caught Michigan by surprise.
Steve Brown: Armanti made a great throw and it was off to the races. Dexter Jackson had world class speed. If you hit him in a slant or a go route there weren’t gonna be too many people even at the Division 1 level that could catch him.
David Jackson: In the booth we thought "well, at least we did that. Hey, at least it was 7-7." The Pierre Banks sack was a big moment though because it showed that the schemes the defensive staff thought could work, were.
Steve Brown: That gave our kids a lot of confidence from that point on that we can go toe-to-toe with these guys. That sack was definitely one of the bigger plays early on.
Both teams played to an even draw until Greg Matthews caught a 10-yard touchdown pass from Chad Henne to put Michigan up 14-7 towards the end of the first quarter.
David Jackson: I think everybody in Black & Gold thought we hung tough for a little while, we’ve proven that 1-AA football is not all that bad. You’ve heard that old cliche "you let a team hang around long enough and they start to believe," well I was never a big believer in that until that day because you could see the look in guys faces that there was a belief taking place every time they hit Henne, every time there was a pass that was dropped or when Manningham was overthrown.
Appalachian State would go on a 21-0 scoring run to take the lead behind the play of Armanti Edwards and a strong defense. Edwards would have two passing touchdowns to Hans Batichon and Dexter Jackson in the quarter while adding a rushing touchdown from six yards out to give App State a 28-14 lead with 2:15 left in the half. Edwards would go into the half 7-of-7 with 129 yards and three touchdowns, with 41 rushing yards and one rushing touchdown.
During the scoring run Michigan’s offense would endure a three-and-out and a turnover on downs in App territory as Mike Hart, who had 10 carries for 57 yards and one touchdown by the second quarter, would leave the game with an undisclosed leg injury.
Justin Woazeah: I thought the NC State game (last year) was Armanti’s coming out party so I really wasn’t surprised by his performance. I expected him to play that well to be honest.
Greg Abee: It seemed effortless how Armanti was able to pick them apart in the first half.
Steve Brown: Armanti did a great job of checking in-and-out of stuff to create matchup problems.
David Jackson: Toward the end of the first quarter and most of the second you really started to get the sense that because of the way the defense was getting to Henne, because whatever reason on Earth Mike Hart did not play more, that App was not only hanging in there but kind of dominating.
Justin Woazeah: They were intimidated by our offense.
Steve Brown: When Mike Hart went out the ball game their running game was not the same. I was surprised they didn’t throw the ball and try to attack us more. I didn’t think they were very aggressive early and it surprised me. I think Hart being in and out of the game affected their play calling.
Justin Woazeah: When Mike Hart went out his backup (Brandon Minor) just wasn’t as explosive.
David Jackson: I thought Henne looked very rusty, very average that day. He didn’t look like he had his timing right.
Justin Woazeah: When Mike Hart went out Henne couldn’t throw the ball because we covered so well and then the pressure started getting to him. The thing about Michigan was that they ran the same route combinations no matter what personnel they had in.
David Jackson: What impressed me was how quiet it was.
Steve Brown: Michigan started pressing and when things weren’t going well you can hear a pin drop.
Greg Abee: It was eerie to see and hear how quiet that crowd was. They were shocked.
Down two touchdowns with 23 seconds left in the half with one timeout, Lloyd Carr decided to kick a field goal on fourth down from the five-yard line. Michigan kicker Jason Gingell made the kick but App State lead 28-17 at the half. Michigan fans booed as both teams went into the locker room.
David Jackson: Here’s this top-five team with all this NFL talent and there seemed to be a fickle nature from the fans booing.
Greg Abee: I was getting tons of text messages from my college roommate and he was telling me it was absolute pandemonium in Boone.
David Jackson: Text messages were flying back and forth between staff members that aren’t suitable for family consumption.
Greg Abee: There were a few Michigan fans behind me who were from Canada and I remember them saying you guys just won your national championship this year. They knew it wasn’t a fluke. They knew how good our football was. But I didn’t encounter any surly fans at the half.
Justin Woazeah: We were beat up. I caught a hip pointer deflecting a pass away from Manningham. I couldn’t even get up. It took Cory Lynch coming over and telling me "Hey Wo you’re the best DB in the country right now" for me to head to the sideline. I was about to come out [of] the game and not play in the second half because I could barely feel my left leg. But coach [John] Wiley told me I’m playing and if they have to amputate my leg then I’m gonna go out there on one leg then.
Steve Brown: Our strength and conditioning coaches did a crazy job getting our kids ready.
David Jackson: I thought it was essential to the storyline that they got in there Friday and held a Thursday-like walkthrough to shake some of those jitters loose. I thought that was also why that team played as well early as they did because they got some of the awe aspect of that routine out.
Justin Woazeah: Offense did their job. They put up more than 21 points. Now, we as a defense gotta win this game.
David Jackson: As excited as you were, there was the fear of the shoe dropping. If nothing else, if they come and run us out in the second half, we had these 30 minutes.
On the second play in the second half, Armanti Edwards throws an interception. Michigan moves the ball but settles for a field goal to make it 28-20 early in the third quarter.
David Jackson: We started giving Michigan chances and they didn’t take them. Usually when you a play team that’s elite like that little cracks turn into a gaping hole fast.
Steve Brown: I was worried about the crowd getting back into it but the defense did a great job keeping them in check and not letting the crowd get back in it.
On App’s following drive the Mountaineers moved the ball into the red zone but freshman Brian Quick would drop a touchdown on third down. Julian Rauch makes a 31-yard field to give App a 31-20 lead halfway through the third quarter.
David Jackson: If Quick catches that touchdown pass that game could’ve been a rout.
Steve Brown: Brian didn’t drop many but he dropped that one. Coach always said there’s going to be four or five plays that turn the ball game around and that could have been one of them right there.
Greg Abee: That would have been a dagger. I started to get nervous at that point.
David Jackson: Those were the kind of plays a 1-AA team doesn’t make in a game like this and you lose.
Justin Woazeah: Him dropping the ball I was okay with it. I wasn’t okay that he dropped it. But I was okay with it because I knew he was going to come back and do something else.
The Appalachian State defense continued to play tough in the third quarter as Jacques Rowman would force a fumble with Pierre Banks recovering the ball. But the offense began to become stagnant. App would fail to convert the turnover into points as Julian Rauch would miss a 46-yard field goal.
Steve Brown: Turnovers, kicking game, these are the things that make a difference.
Greg Abee: The play calling had really gotten conservative.
Steve Brown: I thought we got a tad conservative but really we just missed a play or two. In the first half everything we did turned to gold but in the second half we just didn’t have that momentum.
With 4:46 left in the third quarter Mike Hart would make his return to the field.
David Jackson: Fresh legs. The guy hasn’t played all day and now he’s going to run against two-thirds of a defense that had been playing almost every snap on special teams and defense.
Justin Woazeah: He came back in when everybody was tired so he was going to look like a superstar. He was a great athlete. He came and did what he could but I thought nothing of it.
App State would force a three-and-out but on the ensuing possession Armanti Edwards would fumble the ball due to a Shawn Crable strip sack with John Thompson recovering the ball. The Wolverines would cash the turnover into points behind the legs of Mike Hart as he would score from four yards with 24 seconds left. Michigan would fail to convert the two-point conversion and trail App 31-26 entering the fourth quarter.
Steve Brown: You got kids that are sometimes in the huddle and they make you play harder and they make you play better, and Mike Hart was that guy for Michigan. He just made them go offensively.
David Jackson: Every time he touched the ball you felt like something magical could happen.
With all the momentum on Michigan’s side and the crowd fully engaged, Michigan is on the verge of taking the lead but Leonard Love picks off a Henne pass with 12:23 left in the game.
Justin Woazeah: Great play by Leonard. The crazy thing is that if Leonard doesn’t pick the ball off I was gonna pick the ball off cause I was right there too.
Steve Brown: Henne made a bad throw but Leonard just made a great a play.
Michigan would force an App punt on the next drive but would fail to get through App’s defense as they would turn it over on downs with 6:55 left in the game. However, once again App’s offense would stall and punt the ball. On the first play of Michigan’s next drive, Mike Hart would have a 54-yard touchdown run to give Michigan a 32-31 lead with 4:36 left in the game. Michigan would miss the two-point conversion.
Steve Brown: Offensively we were getting frustrated that we weren’t having the same success like we had in the first half and started pressing a little bit.
David Jackson: The roar of that crowd was louder than seven kinds of hell. It was deafening.
Greg Abee: The stadium was insane. Every time I go to a big game I always hope to get the full feeling of what that stadium is because it might be the only time I get to go there. That place was shaking. It was like a cathartic explosion of we didn’t lose to App State.
Steve Brown: It was blocked pretty well at the point of attack but it looked to us in the press box that we were gassed.
Justin Woazeah: Jake Long created a nice hole for him. As I was running him down I looked at the clock and my thought was if they score they’re gonna take the lead. If I tackle him on the 10 they could run the clock so low that if they score, the pressure’s on us to score in a couple seconds so I gave up my pride and dove at his feet and didn’t try to wrap him up. He did a move and he scored. That was my mindset.
On App’s first play of the next series Edwards throws an interception to Brandon Engleman with 4:25 left in the game.
Steve Brown: We’re exhausted on defense. How are going to stave them off again?
David Jackson: Oh my gosh, this is the way it’s going to end. All they got to do is move the chains a couple times and that’s it. Dive play, dive play, dive play, ball game.
In App territory Michigan would gain a first down but would end up settling for a 43-yard field from Jason Gingell. The attempt is blocked by Brian Quick.
David Jackson: You’re looking for a team of Michigan’s caliber to immediately score and they didn’t. They did not look like an elite grab-you-by-the-throat team that day. That little sliver left an opening.
Steve Brown: They looked like they didn’t have a plan for what they were trying to do. They really looked disorganized. Almost disinterested. It was really strange.
I remember telling David on air when they were about to kick the first field goal that their kicker kicked it awfully low in pregame practice when I was watching him.
David Jackson: Steve was watching Gingell during pregame and said this guy is kicking low… App’s coaching staff was losing their minds trying to get the players not to touch the ball. It felt like time stood still for about 20 seconds.
App State’s offense would take the field down 32-31 with 1:37 left in the game. On the first play of the drive Edwards would run for 15 yards.
David Jackson: At some point in time you can’t play like Cinderella. You got to go win it.
Steve Brown: I always told David when you have Armanti on your side, if you can get to the last drive he can make so many things happen because of his athletic ability. With Armanti Edwards you always felt like you had a chance. Pound for pound the best quarterback I’ve ever seen at that level.
David Jackson: This would become the signature of Armanti Edwards. He’s kinda like the 1-AA’s John Elway. From that point forward with the ball in his hands and the game on the line he was going to win.
App would try a double pass to CoCo Hillary but the play resulted in a four-yard loss. On second and long, Edwards would connect with TJ Courman on a catch-and-run for 20 yards to put App in Michigan territory.
Mike Flynn: I think everyone on the field thought he was going to step out of bounds and then he picked up another 10-15 yards before going out of bounds. That kick-started the drive. It was kind of the unsung play of the game.
David Jackson: The play of the game.
Edwards passes to Batichon for eight yards with just over a minute left in the game. With the clock running, Edwards would find Jackson again for two yards to give App a first down at the 29-yard line. On the net play, scrambling left, Edwards throws across his body to find Hillary in the middle of the field. Hillary would run through arm tackles to bring App to the five-yard line.
David Jackson: Hold on to the damn football. Please go down.
Steve Brown: I thought he (Edwards) was going to run the ball and kinda almost gasped when he threw the ball because he had to throw it over a linebacker and in front of a safety. It was a great throw on the run as only he can do.
Michigan calls their second timeout. With 30 seconds left in the game, rather than trying another play, Coach Moore decides to send Julian Rauch out to attempt the 24-yard field goal on the far left hash for the lead. App State has zero timeouts.
David Jackson: Let’s not do something where we take a sack and have to rush out to make a kick of this magnitude. I thought App made the right decision.
Greg Abee: I guarantee you not many coaches would make that decision today. Run it into the middle, get that straight angle, run another 15 seconds off the clock to try to get the last play. To this day I still don’t think it was a particularly great decision.
David Jackson: Rauch was about as steady as they came. I felt pretty confident he was going to make it. The long snapper, holder, kicker, combination had been together for two full seasons. You felt good about that synergy.
Steve Brown: I remember telling David this is like a five foot putt to win the masters. I’ve never seen David as nervous as he was. He’s always as cool as a cucumber.
Mike Flynn: I didn’t have any doubt he’d make the kick. Julian wasn’t going to miss from inside 35 yards.
Steve Brown: I thought he was gonna make it. Julian Rauch was a pretty money kicker.
David Jackson: I remember thinking 30 seconds from now life could be different. This wasn’t Minnesota going into the Big House and beating Michigan. This was something that would mean things financially, for our community’s notoriety, this would mean things for admissions at Appalachian State. Hold the moment for 30 more seconds and this will be different. Everything will be different.
Julian Rauch makes the kick. With 26 seconds left in the game App leads 34-32.
David Jackson: I remember seeing John Holt, one of our offensive lineman, looking like he was a half-breath away from needing medical attention. I remember thinking there was going to be this raucous celebration and those guys were spent.
Steve Brown: All kind of crazy stuff was going through my head. I could hardly talk.
David Jackson: 26 Seconds is a long time with Chad Henne and Jake Long and Mario Manningham. Plus, we had a tendency for a while to not defend kickoffs very well. There was a concern due to their game-breakers with 4.2 40s we could see this thing evaporate before we ever got a chance to play a down of defense.
Michigan takes the ensuing kickoff to the 34-yard line. With 21 second left and one timeout, Chad Henne’s first pass would fall incomplete. On the next play Chad Henne would connect with Mario Manningham for 44 yards to put Michigan in field goal range with six second left in the game.
Steve Brown: Before the play I was going crazy thinking we need to go out there and bang him before he got a full head of steam. We got fortunate Henne under threw it. He had Woazeah beat by a full step. If Henne lays that ball out there it’s a touchdown.
David Jackson: Henne under threw the ball. If he throws that ball in stride Manningham walks down the sideline and we’re not even having this conversation.
Justin Woazeah: When Mario caught that ball I asked God is this really how I’m going to go out in my last year? Am I gonna be remembered as the guy that lost the big game? I didn’t have any lift on my left leg because of my hip pointer so I couldn’t turn my hips like I wanted to. No excuses, but there was no way I was gonna let him score.
David Jackson: For Woaze to be able to recover and make that play was amazing at the time because he was on the field for every defensive play, for every special teams play, offensive special teams, and defensive special teams.
Mike Flynn: Funny story my mom actually called me, she’s a Notre Dame fan, and she lived in Columbus, Ohio. The Big Ten Network had incredible carrier issues throughout the Midwest so my mom’s cable company did not have the Big Ten Network.
I called her real quick after we made the field goal. I told her to keep an eye on the ticker but unless you hear differently from me assume that we won. My phone rings and it’s my mom. She says, "I’m sorry to bother you but nothing new is coming across the ticker. What happened?" I told her Michigan’s lining up to kick the winning field goal. They’re going to beat us.
Greg Abee: You don’t often see two blocked kicks in the same half so there’s no way, no way, we’re going to block this! All this excitement just to drive away in heartache. I was not looking forward to driving back.
Steve Brown: These kids have played their butts off, these coaches have coached their butts off, and it comes down to one play.
Jason Gingell’s 37-yard field goal attempt is blocked by Cory Lynch. Lynch recovers it and runs to the opposite end. He gets tackled before reaching the end zone but it doesn’t matter. App State 34 Michigan 32.
Steve Brown: We’d always been good over the years with Coach Moore on special teams blocking kicks.
Justin Woazeah: I was praying. But I just thought it’d be natural they made the field goal honestly.
Steve Brown: From grade school, to Pop Warner League, up to high school and college, you’re taught to block down. The wing back stepped outside and the one guy that’s made big plays on defense at key times was Cory Lynch, and he didn’t get touched.
Mike Flynn: I was still on the phone with my mom when we blocked the field goal and I’m running down the sideline looking for Charissa Thompson [Big Ten Network sideline reporter] to try to get her to Coach Moore.
David Jackson: As soon as Lynch hit the deck I remember saying the Michigan Wolverines are outta here. They took off of that field. I’d never seen a team get off the field after a loss so fast in my entire career. Those guys didn’t hang around, understandably so.
Justin Woazeah: They didn’t respect us. They were giving excuses after the game that they didn’t prepare for us. Don’t prepare for us man, prepare for your football season. We prepared for our football season. I think that embarrassment to them led them to be sore losers. They were in the media talking about how they were drinking and smoking the night before. Excuses.
Steve Brown: I went crazy but David, I don’t know how he kept his composure.
Greg Abee: The App fans went berserk for 10 minutes at least after the game in the stands. Everybody went insane. Michigan fans were dejected.
David Jackson: That was the call of a lifetime and the play of a lifetime for so many people involved in that moment. Somebody asked me after did we script that. No it was pure emotion. I was fortunate enough to be standing next to a guy who played at App State and was one of the most decorated quarterbacks to ever play there.
To be with so many people that it meant so much to was overwhelming. You heard two guys that were both grads who were lifetime fans, who understood what just happened. This wasn’t beating Furman. This wasn’t beating Georgia Southern. This was beating Michigan.
Justin Woazeah: We had chants going on in the locker room. N-O-T-H-I-N-G what those Wolverines mean to me. Nothing! Nothing! It was a great celebration.
Justin Woazeah: Ohio State fans loved us.
Matt Brown, Ohio State student: It was either the next day or very soon, but every single campus bookstore that sold Ohio State stuff on High Street were all selling Appalachian State shirts. That was the "IT" thing to have those first two months. I think there were more Mountaineer fans in Columbus than there were anywhere outside of Boone.
Greg Abee: Leaving the stadium, there’s ticket stubs all over the ground because Michigan fans were just throwing their tickets down. I really wanted one of those tickets. The ones App State sold were plain with a gold Block M on it but the Michigan ones had a classic photo.
There was one guy wearing Michigan colors who knew what had just happened and he was running around picking up ticket stubs from the ground probably thinking he could sell them later. I asked him for one because I couldn’t see any more since there was a crowd of people trying to get out of there. He really didn’t want to give me one but eventually he gave it to me.
I’ll never forget when walking out of the stadium there was a girl who told me she was a senior at Michigan and she said we just ruined her senior year.
Steve Brown: The crowd gave us a standing ovation getting on the team bus.
Mike Flynn: It was an exhausting game. Everything from the end of the game till we got on the plane was exhausting.
David Jackson: The entire time we were in the air until we touched down there was hardly a word said. Those guys were so spent. I’ll never forget how quiet that flight was.
Steve Brown: We were exhausted. A lot of people were sleeping.
Justin Woazeah: Everybody had ibuprofen and was trying to go to sleep.
On the plane trip back to Boone, North Carolina, pandemonium awaited the Appalachian State football team in Tennessee.
Mike Flynn: We landed in Johnson City, Tennessee, and you saw people lined up along the fence cheering. The streets were just filled with people. In Boone, the police estimated 15,000 people were near the stadium.
Justin Woazeah: We had an inclination of what we’ve done. But we had no idea the magnitude of what we just did.
Steve Brown: It was a great atmosphere.
David Jackson: We got back to campus and there was about 10,000 people waiting for us. People in trees, people in the stadium, people on to top of dorms.
Justin Woazeah: My dad would tell my mom If all the oceans were ink and all the trees were paper, I couldn’t describe enough words to describe how I feel about you. That’s how I felt when we got back and saw all these people supporting the Mountaineers.
I’ve always been a fan of the fans. I’ve always known that support is what makes the team. Words can’t explain what that feeling was like.
Mike Flynn: ESPN wanted to do a live shot for SportsCenter. They wanted Coach Moore and Armanti Edwards. My assistant was back on campus trying to coordinate it. ESPN sent their trucks from Blacksburg, because Gameday was at Virginia Tech that day. It was their first game after the school shooting.
My assistant calls me and says ESPN is pissed, asking where are you guys. I said tell them to look around, what are we supposed to do here! By the time we got people off the bus ready to do some ESPN stuff, they punted on the live shot because somebody for the Boston Red Sox (Clay Buchholz) threw a no-hitter that night.
David Jackson: I did over 100 interviews the next week. Coach Moore did about 200. Our policy was don’t ever tell anybody no. This was our moment, our 15 minutes of fame as a university. I remember the Chancellor was doing Mike & Mike.
Mike Flynn: From a media standpoint, it’s the biggest thing to happen to the town of Boone. ESPN, Sports Illustrated, ESPN Gameday, New York Times, Chicago Tribune, Washington Post, they were all in town. It was crazy.
Justin Woazeah: It was a bunch of parties all week. But the starters were all hurt. We played so hard in that game that everyone played hurt the rest of the season. I remember having to take cortisone shots the whole second half of the game because my hips were hurting so bad.
Gary Tharrington (defensive lineman) is not the same even to this day because of that game. He played the rest of the season hurt too. The scout team and the backups had a great time that week but not the starters.
David Jackson: We had an Open House the next week. Usually we had between 1800 and 2000 students. Almost 5000 students came to that open house.
Justin Woazeah: Our school had a name now. We might have played a game, but Appalachian State got that glory. We brought that glory of God back to the Mountains.
10 Years later, Justin, David, Mike, Greg, and Steve give their final thoughts on the magnitude of the game, what it means to them, and how it’s impacted Appalachian State University.
David Jackson: The campus had around 13,000 enrollment at the time. Now App State is around 19,000. The average SAT score went up 200 points two years after that game. The Chancellor said this moment changed our campus, the type of student we recruit. It put App State on the map that nothing else could.
Mike Flynn: Applications were going up but it was already trending that way. Did the Michigan game help? Absolutely. I don’t think Appalachian State became a household name that day though. They became a household name with their two national championships. I think the win over Michigan cemented Appalachian State as a household name.
Steve Brown: I’m humbled and blessed to be apart of it. It’s a great memory.
Justin Woazeah: I was unable to play in the [2007 FCS] National Championship Game because I did something stupid so for me, that Michigan game was my National Championship that year.
Mike Flynn: I think it’s definitely the most famous upset of all-time but from a talent standpoint I think there have been other upsets with a bigger talent gap.
Greg Abee: 10 Years later it’s still our program-defining win. It’s the biggest event in our program’s history. Now that we’re in the FBS landscape the conversation is never "hey, didn’t you guys win three straight FCS national championships," it’s "hey, aren’t you guys the team that beat Michigan." You’d like to say three incredible National Championship seasons are bigger but I can’t say that. To me, the Michigan win is the biggest event in App State football history.
David Jackson: To be part of it is still overwhelming 10 years later. Every August our phone will ring, we’ll pick it up to talk about this game and it’ll be like we’re there again. For Appalachian State, every August this story will get told again.