Courtesy of Appalachian State Athletics
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. â€” Top-ranked Appalachian State University intercepted four passes and rolled up 447 yards of offense to throttle Samford, 35-17, on Saturday afternoon at Seibert Stadium.
The resounding victory was the 22nd in a row in Southern Conference play for Appalachian (4-0, 2-0 SoCon). It was also the Mountaineers' 13th-straight conference road win.
For the second-straight week, ASU (ranked No. 1 nationally by the American Football Coaches Association and No. 2 by The Sports Network) jumped out to a commanding early lead en route to the triumph.
The game was scoreless for the first 11 minutes but Mark LeGree (Columbus, Ga./Pacelli Catholic) kick-started the rout by intercepting his third pass of the season and returning it 21 yards to the Samford 13. Three plays later, DeAndre Presley (Tampa, Fla./Middleton) scored from a yard out on a quarterback sneak to make it 7-0, Mountaineers.
On ASU's next possession, Presley engineered a 76-yard scoring drive, capped by a pretty 30-yard touchdown pass to Matt Cline (Thomasville, N.C./Glenn) that made it 14-0, Mountaineers, on the first play of the second quarter.
Samford made it interesting when Fabian Truss cut the deficit in half with a 74-yard touchdown run on the second play of the Bulldogs' ensuing possession and, after an ASU punt, got the ball back with a chance to tie the game.
However, ASU linebacker D.J. Smith (Charlotte, N.C./Independence) turned the tide of the game when he intercepted Samford's Dustin Taliaferro at the Samford 42 and returned it 26 yards. One play later, Presley scored on a 16-yard touchdown run to stretch the advantage back to 14 points.
On its next series, Appalachian rode tight end Ben Jorden (Weddington, N.C./Charlotte Latin) to its fourth touchdown in a 13:41 span. The junior caught three passes on ASU's 75-yard scoring drive, all of which accounted for first downs, including a 15-yard touchdown that gave the Mountaineers a commanding 28-7 lead late with 5:06 to go first half.
Samford (2-2, 0-1 SoCon) attempted to grab a bit of momentum with a field goal in the waning seconds of the first half but Appalachian effectively ended the Bulldogs' upset hopes when Devon Moore (Mebane, N.C./Cedar Ridge) made it 35-10 with a nine-yard touchdown run on the second play after the break.
From there, ASU cruised to its first 4-0 start in 12 years. Defensive backs Ed Gainey (Winston-Salem, N.C./Mount Tabor) and Dominique McDuffie (Chattanooga, Tenn./Red Bank) intercepted passes in the second half to give Appalachian four interceptions for the first time since it accomplished the feat against Presbyterian on Sept. 27, 2008.
The interceptions help limit SU to 117 yards in the second half, including only 20 in the third quarter. For the game, the Mountaineers out-gained the Bulldogs, 447-311.
Making his first-ever start at the middle linebacker position in place of injured Jeremy Kimbrough (Decatur, Ga./Cedar Grove), Smith led Appalachian's stout defensive effort with 14 tackles (13 solo) as well as the his first interception of the season, a pass break-up and a sack. In only three career games against the Bulldogs, the senior Buck Buchanan Award candidate racked up an amazing 47 tackles.
Presley led the Mountaineers offensively by accounting for 273 yards of total offense and four touchdowns in a little more than three quarters of work. He completed 16-of-27 passes for 176 yards and two touchdowns and rushed 15 times for 98 yards and two more scores.
ASU enjoys its lone bye of the regular season next week before a mammoth SoCon matchup with Elon on Oct. 9. The homecoming affair begins at 3 p.m. at Kidd Brewer Stadium and will be televised across the Southeast on SportSouth.