App State uses 2 turnovers to stun No. 6 Texas A&M 17-14

COLLEGE STATION, Texas (AP) — On paper, there was no reason to believe Appalachia State would stand a chance Saturday against No. 6 Texas A&M.

But mountaineer coach Shawn Clarkwho earns 10 times less than the more than $9 million Texas A&M coach Jimbo Fisher receives each season at the Southeastern Conference school, made it clear to his 18 1/2-point team that the game is not played on paper and that mindset would mean everything.

“The key was belief,” Clark said, exhausted. “You have to believe in yourself and believe in this program. I told them to remove the logo from the helmet, remove the logo from the field and go play football.

And play football they did, with Chase Brice throwing for 134 yards and a stingy touchdown and defense taking advantage of two turnovers to stun the Aggies 17-14.

“It didn’t feel real at first,” Brice said. “I’ll be honest, I was just in shock. I just couldn’t believe the way we fought and finished. It was just awesome.

Appalachian State won a week after scoring six touchdowns and 40 fourth-quarter points in an initial 63-61 loss to North Carolina.

“It means something to me to beat the No. 6 ranked program,” Clark said. “These are two different programs. We do not recruit at the same level. We don’t have what they have, but we have a lot of heart and we have the right kind of players in our program.

Clark was thrilled to see Brice lead his team to victory after his record-breaking six touchdown performance last week wasn’t enough to complete the comeback.

“He was crushed,” Clark said. “He loves this program and today was his finest moment.”

In addition to the win, the Mountaineers received a hefty $1.5 million check to take back with them to Boone, North Carolina for playing that game.

Appalachian State (1-1) settled for a 29-yard field goal from Michael Hughes to take a 17-14 lead with about eight minutes left after Christian Wells was wide open but dropped a touchdown pass on the third try.

The Aggies (1-1) had a chance to tie with about 3 1/2 minutes left, but a 47-yard field goal attempt by Caden Davis fell short.

Cameron Peoples, who finished with 112 rushing yards, had a 1-yard run on third down on the next possession to hold Appalachia State’s lead. He then ran for 48 of 12 yards on the next play and the Mountaineers ran out of time.

“At the end of the day, it’s my fault as head football coach,” Fisher said. “We need to have guys ready in all three phases. We had chances to make plays in all three phases. We had chances, but we have to train him better. It’s on me.

It’s Appalachian State’s first victory against an AP top-10 team as an FBS team after losing in overtime to No. 9 Tennessee in 2016 and losing a game in overtime to No. 9 from Penn State in 2018.

The Mountaineers beat No. 5 Michigan 34-32 with a last-second blocked field goal at Ann Arbor in 2007 while still in the FCS.

“Respect all these guys, they’ve been great,” offensive lineman Cooper Hodges said. “But I’m tired of hearing about Michigan. I want our legacy to be Sun Belt champions and I want our legacy to beat Texas A&M.

The Mountaineers controlled A&M’s offense a week after Clark was left looking for ways to repair his defense after North Carolina’s 63-point outburst.

Devon Achane ran for a touchdown in the first half and returned a kick off for a score in the third, but the Aggies struggled to do anything else on a day filled with mistakes.

The Mountaineers beat A&M 305-186 and had 22 first downs to just nine by the Aggies. They also controlled possession time, holding a 41:29 advantage at 18:31 in that area.

Fisher said he would consider a quarterback change this week after a lackluster showing from Haynes King. He added that they probably would have made the change on Saturday if the game had gone differently.

“We were but we never had the ball,” he said. “If we had more possessions, maybe yes.”

The Aggies were leading in the third quarter when Dexter Lawson Jr. forced a fumble from Evan Stewart after a 13-yard reception and it was picked up by Nick Hampton.

The Mountaineers took a 14-7 lead when Henry Pearson caught a 9-yard TD reception from Brice with about 2 1/2 minutes left in the third.

The lead was short-lived as Achane returned the ensuing kickoff 95 yards out for a touchdown seconds later. Achane, who is a sprinter on the Texas A&M track team, threw a defender before shuffling off a would-be tackler and running down to tie the score at 14.

King was sacked by DeAndre Dingle-Prince and fumbled late in the first quarter. Texas A&M lineman Layden Robinson got the ball back, but he also fumbled and this time Appalachian State got it.

They capitalized on the error when Ahmani Marshall scored on a 4-yard touchdown run that made it 7-0 early in the second quarter.

The Aggies tied it when Achane rushed 26 yards for a touchdown on the next practice.

King finished with 97 passing yards.

TAKE AWAY

The loss puts a huge blow to Texas A&M’s preseason goal of finally challenging for a national title, leaving the Aggies in an early hole before even beginning the rigors of SEC play.

RECORD SPEECH

Fisher was hired to take A&M to the next level after coach Kevin Sumlin was fired after his sixth season. But so far, Fisher hasn’t fared better than Sumlin in his time with the Aggies.

Sumlin was 36-14 in his first 50 games and Saturday’s loss dropped Fisher to 35-15 in his first 50 games.

CONSEQUENCES OF THE SURVEY

The Aggies are certain to drop in the poll after losing to an unranked opponent. The state of Appalachia is expected to enter the ballot after the big upheaval.

NEXT

Appalachian State: Hosts Troy next Saturday.

Texas A&M: Hosts No. 15 Miami next Saturday night.

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