Saturday, December 16, 2023

App State Wins Rain Soaked 2023 Cure Bowl

ORLANDO – On a rainy Saturday afternoon at FBS Mortgage Stadium in Orlando, Florida, the App State Mountaineers and Miami RedHawks battled in the 2023 Cure Bowl. Surviving a day where each team committed three turnovers, the Mountaineers were able to hold on for a hard-fought 13-9 win and App State’s seventh bowl win in eight tries since the team transitioned to FBS in 2014.

App State won the toss and elected to receive, putting their offense on the rain-soaked field first. The possession was short-lived, though as Miami’s Yahsyn McKee picked off a Mountaineer pass on the first play of the game. The App State defense stepped up and forced the RedHawks to settle for a field goal. The Mountaineers’ second drive saw App State make it all the way to the red zone, aided by a long, fifty-two-yard throw and catch from Joey Aguilar to Kaedin Robinson, but it was Michael Hughes’s twenty-nine-yard field goal that eventually got the Mountaineers on the scoreboard and crafted the first quarter score of a three-all tie.

The second quarter began with App State continuing a thirteen-play, eighty-eight-yard drive, but the Mountaineers were unable to find the end zone and took the lead with another Hughes field goal, this one a twenty-two-yard kick. Although the RedHawk offense fumbled the ball back to App State twice in the second quarter, the Mountaineers were never able to turn these opportunities into points and the two teams went into the locker room separated by three points with only three field goals to show on the scoreboard.

After forcing a turnover on downs to start the third quarter, the App State offense went back to work, determined to finally find the end zone at least once in the afternoon. As the gray skies turned darker, the Mountaineers marched seventy-three yards down the field over eleven plays, featuring significant rushing gains by Kanye Roberts and Anderson Castle. When Joey Aguilar crossed the goal line on a none-yard run, the Mountaineers made it a ten-point affair. After forcing a punt on the next drive, App State fumbled the ball back to Miami and RedHawks running back Rashad Amos made the Mountaineers pay with a twenty-three-yard rushing touchdown on the ensuing play. The PAT was no good and App State went into the final quarter with a four-point lead.

After a series of punts opened the fourth quarter, fans suddenly realized that the game was on the line as Miami took possession at their own nine-yard-line with five minutes left in the game. Unable to pass the ball all day, the RedHawks were forced to go up-tempo with their running game. The strategy was initially successful as the Miami offense had moved the ball across midfield in two-and-a-half minutes, but a costly fumble was forced by Omari Philyaw and recovered by Ronald Clarke, giving the Mountaineers the ball and a chance to run out the clock.