Apps Face Troy in Battle of Sun Belt Unbeatens (2016-11-11 23:01:57)

BOONE, N.C. – Championship implications. It is hard to dance around what is at stake for Appalachian State (7-2, 5-0 Sun Belt) and Troy (7-1, 4-0) on Saturday when the two teams meet at Veterans Memorial Stadium.



DATE/TIME: Sat., Nov. 12, 2016 - 3:30 p.m. ET – Veterans Memorial Stadium – Troy, Ala.

TV: WATCH LIVE ESPN3 (Brock Boling - PxP, John Gregory - Analyst)

Appalachian Sports NetworkLISTEN LIVE (Adam Witten - PxP, Pierre Banks - Analyst, Karl Anderson - Sidelines)

The Mountaineers and Trojans meet with the inside track to the 2016 Sun Belt Championship on the line. Kickoff is at 3:30 p.m. ET on ESPN3. A win for App means 6-0 in league play with a visit from UL Monroe and a trip to New Mexico State left on the schedule. Troy has a short week before hosting Arkansas State (4-0 in Sun Belt), which is also unbeaten in league play, with trips to Texas State and Georgia Southern to close out the year.

The showdown will have a championship game feel, which is all you can ask from college football in November.   

“I think it will be a great environment on Saturday,” App Head Coach Scott Satterfield said. “It’s going to be a great football game. You’ve got two of the better teams in the league that are battling this late in the season with everything on the line. This is why you play the game, coach the game, this is what it’s for.”

The matchup certainly has all the ingredients of a conference championship game and the makeup of two championship teams.

App features the No. 1 scoring defense and No. 2 scoring offense, while Troy is No. 2 and No. 1 in the same categories. The Trojans are averaging 39.4 points per game and have scored a league-best 39 touchdowns, while App State leads the nation in interceptions (16) and has allowed only three touchdowns in conference play, only two by the defense and none in the first half.

A win would be the Mountaineers’ 10th-straight on the road, which would tie a Sun Belt record and be App’s biggest road win since moving to FBS. App’s current win streak – and 18-1 stretch in Sun Belt play - began in Troy with a 53-14 win in 2014.

“This team loves going on the road because we’re all together,” Satterfield added. “I think the camaraderie we have when we get on those buses, planes, and eat together, it’s just a special time, we really bond. Then, once you get to the stadium, it’s us against them. It’s our team, together, on the sideline.”

Ball control has been a big part of App’s success the last two years and, off of essentially back-to-back 300-yard rushing efforts the last two weeks, the Mountaineers are starting to click. Running back Jalin Moore has six consecutive 100-yard games and seven TDs, while senior Marcus Cox has been over the century mark each of the last two weeks.

Cox (4,617 yards) is closing in on App’s career rushing mark. He needs 192 yards pass Kevin Richardson (2004-08) as the Mountaineers’ career leader. Cox broke loose for a 37-yard TD to start the scoring in last week’s 35-10 win over Texas State and leads the league at over six yards per carry.

Troy leads the Sun Belt in scoring behind junior QB Brandon Silvers, who is averaging 260 yards passing per game with 18 TDs and seven interceptions. He has multiple TD passes in seven of eight games this season, including two at Clemson in September. Wide outs Emmanuel Thompson (48 rec.) and Deondre Douglas (45 rec.) are 1-2 in the conference in receptions. Running back Jordan Chunn is closing in on 1,000 yards. The 230-lb back has 899 yards and averages 5.3 yards per carry, behind only Moore (5.7) and Cox (6.1).

“They’re a very solid football team all the way around,” Satterfield said of Troy. “What they did to us last year on offense is what they have been doing to everyone this year. They do a great job throwing the football and have one of best quarterbacks, but the running game is the difference. When you have a 231-pound back with good vision, who breaks tackles and runs hard. What makes (Troy) special because they can run and throw.”

App continues to turn out dominant and lopsided defensive efforts in league play, but face their sternest test on Saturday. The defense held Texas State to 14 rushing yards and forced six punts and an interception on the Bobcats’ next seven possessions following a field goal on the opening drive. Linebacker Kennan Gilchrist had two sacks and 3.5 tackles for loss to earn Sun Belt Defensive Player of the Week honors following the win. Linebackers John Law (eight tackles) and Eric Boggs (third interception of the season) also had big games.

The Mountaineers’ D has seen its resume’ explode in the last month, climbing from 72nd nationally to 10th in scoring defense, largely behind QB pressure. The Apps have 14 sacks and 37 tackles for loss in their last four games.  

SERIES: App leads the all-time series with Troy, 3-2. The Mountaineers are 2-0 at the FBS level against Troy, grabbing a wild 44-41 win over the Trojans in 3OT last season at The Rock.