ACC

UNC, Appalachian State to start 3-game football series in 2019

Appalachian State has signed a deal to start a football series with the state's flagship university.

North Carolina is finally coming to the High Country.

Appalachian State on Monday announced a three-game series that begins with the Mountaineers visiting Chapel Hill on Sept. 21, 2019. The Tar Heels are scheduled to appear in Boone for a season opener on Sept. 3, 2022, and they will have another home game with Appalachian State on Sept. 9, 2023.

“Our goal is to continue to bring Power 5 opponents, when available, and quality Group of 5 opponents to Boone, which benefits our students, student-athletes, university and community,” Appalachian State athletics director Doug Gillin said in a school-issued release.

“I truly enjoyed working with the UNC administration in constructing a series that is a win-win. Playing regional and in-state opponents makes a lot of sense for us. We will see an increase in tickets sales both home and away, reduced travel costs and less missed class time for our students.”

Unlike a traditional two-for-one deal, the series resembles a home-and-home deal with an additional “money” game, with Appalachian State receiving a payout to appear in Kenan Stadium the second time.

The two UNC system schools have met only once in football, with North Carolina claiming a 56-6 home victory in 1940. The Mountaineers have an 0-6 record against N.C. State, which won 23-10 during the most recent meeting in 2006, and they've never faced Duke.

Home games against Wake Forest later this year and East Carolina in 2025 are part of several high-profile series that Gillin has helped negotiate since Appalachian State hired him two years ago. Last season, as part of a home-and-home deal with Miami, the Hurricanes drew a record-breaking crowd of 34,658 when they became the first Power Five program to play in Kidd Brewer Stadium.

Appalachian State's successful move from a championship-winning Football Championship Subdivision program to a member of the Football Bowl Subdivision-affiliated Sun Belt Conference, coupled with the ever-changing landscape of college football, has made those agreements possible. The Mountaineers have won back-to-back Camellia Bowls and one Sun Belt title while going 27-5 in their past 32 games.

The first schedule openings for both schools fell in 2019, with Appalachian State adding the UNC trip to home nonconference games against East Tennessee State and Charlotte. The Tar Heels are scheduled to play South Carolina in Charlotte and visit Wake Forest for a nonconference game that season - there are 14 ACC schools but only eight league games a year.

Three seasons from now, Appalachian State players such as cornerback Clifton Duck (Butler High) and offensive lineman Victor Johnson could be fourth-year starters taking the field in Chapel Hill.

In addition to hosting North Carolina in 2022, Appalachian State has agreements to play Akron at home and Marshall on the road.

“This series is the next addition in bringing Power 5 programs to Kidd Brewer Stadium,” Gillin said. “With a record crowd for Miami last year, Wake Forest this season, and North Carolina in 2022, we are continuously looking for opportunities to bring great opponents to The Rock."

Boone is part of an area once known as the “Lost Province” because of its geographic isolation from the rest of the state, and North Carolina’s two highest-profile sports programs have made a combined two trips to Appalachian State. The Tar Heels' basketball team played there in 1940 and also appeared for the November 2000 opening of the Holmes Center.

The Winston-Salem Journal is a news partner of the Observer. For more Appalachian State coverage go to http://www.journalnow.com/sports/asu/

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