Sunday, November 26, 2023

App State Honors Armanti Edwards, Cliches Sun Belt Title Game Berth

BOONE – Senior Day at The Rock turned into a celebration of milestones and triumphs as the Appalachian State Mountaineers clinched the East Division title with a commanding 55-27 victory over arch-rival Georgia Southern. The win secured their spot in the Sun Belt Championship Game against West Division champion Troy, setting the stage for a championship pursuit.

Despite falling behind 14-3 in the opening quarter, the Mountaineers orchestrated a remarkable comeback, fueled by the arm of quarterback Joey Aguilar, who threw four touchdown passes in the game. Aguilar’s performance not only propelled App State to victory but also etched his name in the program’s history as the single-season record-holder with an impressive 33 touchdown passes heading into the postseason.

The turning point of the game came in the second quarter when App State, trailing 14-10, launched a relentless offensive assault, scoring 38 unanswered points over 16 minutes. The Mountaineers’ defense played a crucial role, capitalizing on turnovers, including three interceptions. Tyrek Funderburk was instrumental in the defensive effort, contributing two interceptions that set the stage for immediate scoring opportunities.

The halftime ceremony added extra flair to the Mountaineers’ resurgence, as the legendary No. 14 jersey of Hall of Fame quarterback Armanti Edwards was officially retired. Edwards, whose short and direct message to the crowd was a resounding “Thank you! Go App!” witnessed his beloved team transform an 11-point deficit into a commanding 41-17 lead by the end of the third quarter.

The Mountaineers’ five-game winning streak to close the regular season, including an overtime victory against James Madison, showcased their resilience and determination to earn a spot in the Sun Belt title game for the fourth time since 2018.

App State’s offensive prowess was on full display, with Aguilar’s 296 passing yards and a balanced rushing attack that accumulated 236 yards on the ground. Kanye Roberts, Anderson Castle, and Maquel Haywood each contributed rushing touchdowns, showcasing the team’s versatility.

The defense, led by standout performances from Tyrek Funderburk and Jordan Favors, played a pivotal role in shutting down Georgia Southern and forcing turnovers that translated into crucial points for the Mountaineers.

As the final whistle blew, App State had not only secured a convincing victory but also established themselves as a force to be reckoned with as they head into the Sun Belt Championship Game, fueled by a perfect blend of offensive firepower and defensive resilience.