In the first quarter alone, the Mountaineers found the end zone three times, as Armanti Edwards, Devon Moore, and Robert Welton pushed the Mountaineer lead to 21-0 after each picked up a touchdown on the ground.
Overall, Welton led the ground assault against the Dolphins as he racked-up 161 yards on 10 carries on his way to three touchdowns for the day. Devon Moore also had a tremendous day as rumbled through the Dolphins’ secondary to collect 94 yards rushing on only nine attempts and one touchdown. After a disastrous showing at LSU last week, Edwards rebounded nicely as he carried the ball 77 yards on the day and picked up a touchdown both on the ground and through the air.
In the second quarter, Edwards’ 6-yard touchdown completion to Tavaris Washington was the only score in the period as the Mountaineers headed into the locker room at the half with a 28-0 lead. With a little over 10 minutes to go in the third, Robert Welton picked up his second score of the day on a 6-yard touchdown romp. The Dolphins lone score of the game came at the 7:16 mark as Elliott Finkley returned Neil Young’s punt 60 yards for an astounding touchdown, but the deficit was simply too much to overcome as the Dolphins trailed 7-42 at the end of the third quarter.
Appalachian’s stingy defense found the end zone as well as Travis Dowda intercepted an Eric Stepelton pass for the second time and returned the ball 33 yards for a touchdown to push the Mountaineers’ lead to 49-7. Sophomore Josh Jackson would find pay dirt for the final score of the game as he was able to extend the Mountaineers’ dominance over Jacksonville as they went on to win, 56-7.
The stifling Mountaineers’ defense would allow only 244 total yards by the Dolphins’ offense, including a meager 43-yard rushing performance by the underdog Jacksonville team. On the other side of the ball, the high octane Mountaineers’ offense accounted for 540 total yards including a baffling 448-yard rushing showcase by the speedy Appalachian backfield. A contributing factor to the pummeling the Dolphins’ received came in part from the fact that the young Jacksonville team was penalized 10 times for 93 yards.
Among other opening day festivities, the Mountaineers’ unveiled the next phase in the athletics’ enhancement campaign by opening the east side’s upper deck portion, which raises the stadium’s capacity to approximately 24,000. Including the grass portion of the stadium, 30,718 were in attendance for Saturday’s contest.
To commemorate Jerry Moore’s twentieth season at Appalachian, the Mountaineers came decked out in vintage 1989 throwback uniforms which were designed by Nike and will be auctioned off following the game at www.goasu.com. During halftime, the Appalachian family paid tribute to Coach Jerry Moore and his family for the dedication and perseverance they have displayed in assisting the guidance of the Mountaineers’ on their way to three National Championships and numerous Southern Conference titles.
Despite the distractions the Mountaineers’ endured among opening day celebrations, the Mountaineers were able to win their 36th home game in 37 attempts and have not lost a home opener since sustaining a 34-28 loss to Troy State in 2000.
The Mountaineers have next weekend off, but will travel to Harrisonburg, Va. on Sept. 20 to take on Colonial Athletic powerhouse James Madison who also had a 56-7 victory on Saturday over North Carolina Central University. James Madison and App met in the first round of the Division One FCS Playoffs last year were the Mountaineers came away with thrilling 28-27 victory. Kickoff is scheduled for 7 p.m.