No. 5 Appalachian State Defeats No. 25 Lafayette, 34-23, in I-AA Playoffs
Nov. 26, 2005
BOONE, N.C. (www.lafayette.edu) - Daniel Bettis caught two fourth-quarter touchdown passes from Richie Williams as No. 5 Appalachian State, which was locked up with No. 25 Lafayette at 20-all entering the final period, emerged with a 34-23 victory in the first round of the NCAA Division I-AA playoffs on Saturday afternoon at Kidd Brewer Stadium.
The Leopards, which won a share of their second straight Patriot League championship in 2005, finish the season with an 8-4 record. The Mountaineers advance to the quarterfinals, where they will meet Southern Illinois next weekend.
Lafayette scored 17 points in the second quarter and led 17-10 at the half. Julian Rauch put the only points of the first quarter on the board for Appalachian State with a 39-yard field goal midway through the opening stanza. Jonathan Hurt caught a three-yard touchdown pass from Pat Davis with 12:55 left in the second quarter, and put the Leopards ahead 14-3 with a one-yard scoring run with 9:28 remaining before the half.
Davis was 14-of-20 for 123 yards and Hurt carried 17 times for 65 yards in the first half to help Lafayette compile a 22:35 to 7:25 advantage in time of possession. The Leopards went 65 yards in 12 plays for their first score before Mark Plumby forced a fumble on the ensuing kick-off and Adrian Lawson recovered at the 43. Davis had a 25-yard run to move the ball to the two-yard line, and Hurt scored two plays later to extend Lafayette's lead.
Kevin Richardson exploded off right tackle for a 38-yard touchdown run to pull the Mountaineers within 14-10 on their next possession.
Lafayette used an 11-play drive to move the ball to the 27, but the drive short-circuited with two penalties and a sack. Torian Johnson knocked the ball loose from ASU's Dexter Jackson after he returned the ball 31 yards, and recovered after Jason Hunter momentarily gained control of the football.
Rick Ziska cashed in with a 40-yard field goal with 1:10 left to give the Leopards a seven-point lead at the half.
Appalachian State kept the ball on the ground on all but one play of a 10-play, 52-yard drive to open the second half that culminated with a 27-yard field goal by Rauch to make the score 17-13.
Justin Wozeah intercepted a pass by Davis at the ASU 14-yard line to end the Leopards' next drive deep in Mountaineer territory. Williams struck quickly, as Appalachian State ran the ball on six of seven plays before he hit Jackson for a 29-yard scoring pass with 5:19 left in the third quarter.
Davis drove Lafayette 43 yards, completing passes to Brandon Stanford for 14 yards and Nelson for 13, and Ziska leveled the score at 20-20 with a 32-yard field goal with 54 seconds on the clock.
Blake Costanzo recovered an onsides kick for the Leopards on the ensuing kick-off, but a penalty for offsides nullified the change of possession and Richardson returned the kick to the 44. Williams did his best work of the day through the air on Appalachian State's scoring drive, which ended with a nine-yard pass to Bettis that gave the Mountaineers the lead for good. He hit Zach Johnson for eight yards, Jackson for 13 and Brandon Turner for 23 before finding Bettis on first-and-goal with 11:25 remaining.
Anthony D'Urso returned the kick to the 46-yard line and Hurt broke a 20-yard run on the first play from scrimmage. Davis hooked up with Adair for 21 yards before the drive stalled, and Ziska narrowed the margin to 27-23 with his third field goal of the game.
The Lafayette defense forced a three-and-out, but after an incompletion, a run for no gain and a false start, Marques Murrell sacked Davis and forced a fumble, which the Mountaineers recovered at the 26-yard line. Williams fired the ball down the seam to Bettis on the next play to give Appalachian State a 34-23 advantage with 6:01 to play.
Zodd Kelly, who had 12 tackles and a sack, ended any hope of a Lafayette comeback with an interception on the Leopards' next offensive play.
Davis was 24-of-40 for 259 yards for the game, with four receivers making at least four catches each: Stanford (5-48), Hurt (5-26), Adair (4-49) and Chad Walker (4-42). Hurt had 115 yards on 25 rushes.
Richardson gained 171 yards on 24 carries as Appalachian State rolled up 224 yards on the ground. Williams was 10-of-17 for 151 yards and three scores, and ran for 32 yards to become the all-time total offense leader in Southern Conference history.
Lafayette will graduate 27 seniors, including linebackers Maurice Bennett, Blake Costanzo and Dion Witherspoon, who combined for 329 tackles this season. The Leopards will return Brad Maurer at quarterback and Hurt at tailback to lead an experienced offense in 2006.