App State opens 2023 with a high-powered home victory

Boone, North Carolina – With the reset button pressed, App State Football opened the 2023 season by rallying in the second half and winning in front of a packed crowd at The Rock.

Displaying valuable depth, the newcomers and rookies put up some of the biggest plays during a 45-24 win over Gardner-Webb in front of 36,075 fans at Kid Brewer Stadium on Saturday.

In relief starting quarterback Ryan Burgerwho got 7-of-11 with an early touchdown pass before going out for the rest of the game with a finger injury, Joey Aguilar He completed 11 of 13 passes for 174 yards and four touchdowns. He threw a touchdown in his first game with the Mountaineers and set a school record for the most touchdown passes by a quarterback in his App State debut.

“Joe came in, his first collegiate pass in App State was a touchdown, and that gave us the spark we needed,” head coach Sean Clark He said.

Eli Wilson, Cayden Robinson, Dalton Strowman, Dashun Davis And Christian Horn He had one drop per piece, and Nate Noel He rushed for 117 yards and 1 touchdown on 24 carries.

Three turnovers made in the space of eight minutes late in the third quarter to early in the fourth quarter enabled the Mountaineers to break away from the Runnin’ Bulldogs, who led 24-21 in the third quarter before App State scored their last 24 points against them. An opponent eliminated from a FCS playoff in 2022.

With App State leading 31-24 after a long field goal from 43 yards Michael Hughesdefensive end Michael Fletcher The second QB pressure of the game resulted in an interception by the veteran safety and team captain Jackson Greenwho returned the ball 25 yards to Gardner Webb 23. Noel followed a 16-yard drive with a 7-yard score, and a pressure from Sean Collins Contributed to the interception of a fellow newcomer Jack Scruggs Shortly thereafter.

Kevin Abrams-Verwin He later forced a fumble that the newcomer recovered Montes Kellyand Aguilar’s fourth touchdown pass to Horn capped the scoring.

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Burger and Aguilar both threw touchdown passes in the first half, as Burger’s 12-yard strike to Wilson late in the first quarter was followed by a running back Michael Haywood The fourth and second transformation. The Runnin’ Bulldogs scored the next ten points, and Aguilar took the field for the first time after a 14-yard kick gave the Mountaineers possession on the Gardner-Webb 32 with 2:13 left in the first half.

Aguilar looked left and found Robinson wide open along the left hash at the 7-yard line. Robinson caught the throw, got past a defender and scored with ease to put App State back in front.

“You have to go out there and just play, regardless of whether it’s first, second or third,” Aguilar said. “It’s always the next guy, and you just have to be ready.”

The Runnin’ Bulldogs started the second half with an 11-play touchdown drive, App State regained the lead on Aguilar’s 26-yard touchdown pass to Davis and Gardner-Webb took the final lead on running back Jayden Brown’s third touchdown – 41-yard reception.

The Mountaineers took the lead for good on Aguilar’s 43-yard touchdown pass to linebacker Stroman down the right sideline, hurried back-to-back from Nate Johnson and forced a triple kick from Fletcher.

A Hughes field goal increased the lead to seven points, and the Mountaineers pushed their lead to within two points for the first time after Green’s interception to start the next series. Back on the bench, he was swept away by a large group that included the head coach Sean Clark and injured colleague Anderson Castlea fellow graduate of Watauga High School who manages to join the fray via his scooter.

Nick Ross Totaled 12 tackles to lead the defensive unit to three quick points in the second half, while Andrew Parker Jr And Terek Funderburk He added six stops each.

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