Saturday, November 18, 2023

App State Edges Out #18 James Madison in Overtime Thriller

HARRISONBURG, VA – In a stunning upset, Appalachian State secured a hard-fought 26-23 overtime victory against the previously unbeaten and 18th-ranked James Madison University. The sold-out crowd at Bridgeforth Stadium witnessed a nail-biting showdown that unfolded as a slugfest of a conference showdown.

The game’s defining moment came in overtime when App State’s quarterback, Joey Aguilar, connected with Kaedin Robinson for an 8-yard touchdown pass. Robinson’s remarkable effort, breaking tackles and reaching the end zone, secured the Mountaineers’ triumph. The celebration ensued, but a tense review confirmed Robinson’s touchdown, avoiding a potential touchback and sealing the victory for App State.

To stay in contention for a Sun Belt Championship Game berth, the Mountaineers (7-4, 5-2) must defeat Georgia Southern in their next game and rely on James Madison (10-1) to bounce back with a win against Coastal Carolina.

App State showcased resilience, withstanding a late rally from the Dukes, who erased a 12-point deficit in the fourth quarter to tie the game. James Madison’s late-game heroics included a successful two-point pass to force overtime.

The Mountaineers’ defense played a crucial role, with Nate Johnson and Michael Fletcher each recording two sacks. Thomas Davis’ forced fumble and Ethan Johnson’s interception in the second quarter contributed to App State’s halftime lead of 10-5.

The second half featured defensive prowess from both teams, with red-zone field goals and strategic plays. App State’s Kevin Abrams-Verwayne added a key sack, and the Mountaineers’ defense forced turnovers to close out the first half.

App State’s offense, led by Aguilar, showcased its prowess with a 13-play, 80-yard touchdown drive, extending their lead to 17-5. James Madison responded with a 15-play, 76-yard touchdown drive, bringing the score to 17-12. App State’s subsequent 11-play, 70-yard march, highlighted by Aguilar’s crucial pass to Eli Wilson, ended with a field goal, securing an 8-point advantage.

This victory marked a significant turnaround for App State, breaking a streak of five straight overtime losses and nine out of their last ten.

The Mountaineers’ head coach, Shawn Clark, improved to 3-2 in his last five games against ranked opponents. As the Mountaineers look ahead to their next challenge, fans eagerly await the culmination of an unpredictable and thrilling football season.