Griz comeback falls short in 35-27 loss to ASU Mountaineers
It was everything it was expected to be, but if you are a member of Griz Nation it did not come out the way you wanted it to.
It was a match-up between two of the powerhouse programs in the FCS, and it came down to the final minutes, but the host team scored two fourth-quarter TDs in the victory.
Quarterback Jamal Jackson threw two touchdown passes and running back Steven Miller rushed for two scores as the 8th/11th-ranked Appalachian State Mountaineers held off the never-say-die 9th/12th-ranked University of Montana Grizzlies for a 35-27 victory in ASU's Kidd Brewer Stadium Saturday evening at Boone, N.C.
Montana (1-1) had its biggest play of the young season with 8:54 left to play, as senior running back Dan Moore caught a swing pass from redshirt freshman Trent McKinney, and Moore broke free for an 87-yard touchdown - tying the school record for the fifth longest scoring reception, and cutting the ASU lead to 28-27. Unfortunately, redshirt freshman kicker Chris Lider missed the ensuing PAT, and the Mountaineers led by one point.
ASU tacked on a security TD with 5:05 remaining on a 2-yard touchdown run by Miller. Despite four turnovers (ASU had none), the Griz still had a chance to come back, and they advanced to the ASU 42-yard line in the final two-plus minutes, but McKinney was picked off and the Mountaineers (1-1) had the win.
The Mountaineers regained the lead with 13:03 left in the game, Jackson hit junior wide-out Andrew Peacock for a 25-yard touchdown, and ASU took a 28-21 lead.
The third quarter wasn't anything like the first two, as the defenses played very well, and neither team scored in that stanza.
The Griz tied the game for the second time in the opening half, when McKinney hooked up with senior wide receiver Sam Gratton for a 7-yard TD pass, making the score 21-all with 35 seconds remaining until intermission. It was an impressive first half for UM, as they gained 306 total yards, while ASU had 179.
ASU took the lead on its second possession of the game, a methodical 9-play, 60-yard drive, capped off by a 13-yard scoring run by senior halfback Steven Miller, giving the home team a 14-7 lead at the 3:23 mark of the first stanza.
The Mountaineers took advantage of Montana's second turnover of the first quarter, as Jackson scored on a 5-yard run to give ASU a 21-7 cushion. ASU started that drive on the Griz 27-yard line after true freshman Chase Naccarato fumbled on a kickoff return.
The Grizzlies cut the ASU lead to 21-14 on 9-play, 75-yard scoring drive with 13:12 left until halftime, as McKinney scored his first career rushing touchdown on a 10-yard run. Both teams scored on their first possessions of the game. The Grizzlies took a 7-0 lead on a 2-yard touchdown pass from McKinney to fellow redshirt freshman Gavin Hagfors, who scored on his first career catch.
The Mountaineers came right back, as Jackson connected with wide receiver Shawn Rice on a 32-yard scoring pass, knotting the score at 7-7 with 9:18 to go in the opening quarter.
McKinney was 15-of-29 for a career-high 307 yards and 3 TDs, but he was picked off three times. Gratton had 3 receptions for 104, and one score - all in the first half. Moore rushed 15 times for 93 yards and had 3 catches for a career-high 145 yards. McKinney gained 68 yards on 13 totes.
Jackson was 24-of-34-0 for 260 yards and 2 TDs. Miller rushed 27 times for 91 yards.
Montana hosts Liberty next Saturday in a 1:30 p.m. game in Washington-Grizzly Stadium. ASU hosts the Citadel in a Southern Conference game.
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