BOONE — Nobody saw this one coming.
Even though The Citadel Bulldogs entered Kidd Brewer Stadium with a national ranking and the momentum of a huge upset in their back pocket from a week ago, the idea the Bulldogs could dominate host Appalachian State seemed crazy.
But that’s exactly what happened on Saturday.
ASU, which entered the game ranked No. 8 in the FCS national poll, never found an answer to the No. 21 Bulldogs’ triple option, and the visitors rolled to a 52-28 victory in front of a stunned crowd of 24,137. The win snapped an 8-game losing streak for the Bulldogs against ASU.
“Citadel came in and just gave it to us early,” Appalachian State linebacker Jeremy Kimbrough said. “We just weren’t ready for it.”
Mountaineers head coach Jerry Moore was brutally honest in his postgame assessment, acknowledging that his young team might have been unprepared emotionally after last week’s big win against Montana.
“I’m guessing we weren’t probably ready to play,” Moore said. “There’s a look in their eyes sometimes that’s different.”
The Citadel, which shocked Southern Conference preseason favorite Georgia Southern a week ago, further solidified its status as conference contenders on Saturday, piling up 618 yards of offense, including 400 yards in the first half when it took a 38-7 lead into intermission.
The Citadel rushed for 463 yards and had three players top 100 yards rushing – with Ben Dupree (180), Darien Robinson (113) and Rickey Anderson (102) all turning in stellar performances.
The Bulldogs (3-0) turned nine third-down plays into 160 yards in the first half, including a pair of dazzling runs by Dupree, who scored on runs of 57 and 46 yards – both on third-and-9 plays. For the game, The Citadel converted 11 of 14 third downs, keeping the ASU offense off the field and dominating play at the line of scrimmage.
Dupree and fellow quarterback Aaron Miller, who played at Clover High, combined to throw just six passes in the game, but many of those were daggers, good for 155 yards.
“It was just a rough afternoon,” Moore said, “a long afternoon. “It felt like it was never going to be over.”
The Citadel led 52-14 at the start of the fourth quarter. That’s when Appalachian State showed some life, putting together a pair of scoring drives. Steven Miller had a career-high 167 rushing yards and scored three touchdowns for the Mountaineers.
But his performance was one of the few bright spots.
“Their first three drives, they go 75, 97 and 75 yards,” Moore said. “Big plays early in the game killed us. The whole world turned upside down. We couldn’t stop them.”