BOONE – Appalachian State closed with 17 straight points to pull away for a 44-10 loss of visiting Elon on Saturday in their home opener at sold-out Kidd Brewer Stadium.
Camerun Peoples and Anderson Castle scored on touchdown passes for the Mountaineers in the final 11 minutes of the game, after McKinley Witherspoon’s 2-yard touchdown moved Elon to 27-10 late in the third quarter.
Appalachian State quarterback Chase Brice completed 19 of 25 passes for 293 yards and hit Malik Williams on a 47-yard touchdown in the first quarter to start the scoring, in front of a crowd of 30,224.
Elon was 13-3 at halftime, before Brice added a one-yard touchdown run to give the Mountaineers a 20-3 lead in the third quarter. Appalachian State converted a fourth and four from Elon’s 8-meter line to extend that ride. Brice connected on his first eight passes before throwing an incomplete.
Corey Sutton caught seven catches for 128 yards and Williams had four catches for 123 yards. Peoples and Nate Noel totaled 153 rushing yards. D’Marco Jackson of Appalachian State sacked quarterback Elon Davis Cheek three times and had 13 tackles. Chandler Staton scored 44, 45 and 28 yard field goals for the Mountaineers (2-1).
Following: Elon rallies in second half, survives Campbell’s late 2-point attempt to secure first win
Following: Elon falls to Wofford in dramatic end to season opener, spoiling return of QB Davis Cheek
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Cheek had 22 of 36 passes for 225 yards. Jackson Parham (five catches for 83 yards) and Kortez Weeks (four catches for 35 yards) were among his best targets.
Elon (1-2) had a promising practice that went off the rails in the third quarter, when Cheek’s pass to Bryson Daughtry in the end zone was picked up on the TD roof of Appalachian State. He returned the 90-yard interception to prepare for Peoples’ first of two touchdowns, and the Mountaineers were leading 27-3.
“Each game comes down to five or six games,” Cheek said. “If we change some things, if I throw here or block there, then the game is completely different. I have the impression that we hang out with them. We were handling the ball well and for me it really comes down to that choice. “
Roof was following Daughtry when Cheek’s pitch bounced off Elon’s catcher’s hands in the end zone.
“Every blind squirrel finds a nut every now and then,” Roof said. “Just a little in the right place at the right time. I was obviously peddled (chased) and I was quite gassed.
Elon linebackers Devonte Chandler and Jamir Malone recorded eight tackles apiece. Marcus Hillman had a sack and forced two fumbles, the latter giving Elon a short field that ended in Witherspoon’s touchdown.
“We knew going into the game that we always want to get takeout as a defense,” Hillman said. “We do everything we can to bring the ball back to our attack and we are always taught, when we go to sack the quarterback, to try to get the ball back and get the upper hand. So I did what I was trained to do.
Elon has been winless against Appalachian State since 1964. The teams were part of the Southern Conference and League enemies from 2003 to 2013, before the Mountaineers left the Championship soccer division to compete at the bowl level.
The Phoenix welcome William and Mary next weekend in the Colonial Athletic Association League opener for both teams.
“I expect us to build on our performance in the first half,” said Elon coach Tony Trisciani. “We are going to prepare for next week the same way we have prepared for the last three weeks. We’re not going to change what we’re doing from a readiness standpoint. I expect us to grow as a football team.
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