A Second-Round Rematch
Mountaineers Will Meet Spiders in Richmond Saturday
Jerry Moore spent Monday night in his office watching film of the Richmond Spiders. After all of this season’s games were viewed, the veteran ASU head coach came to a conclusion that is easily noted by looking at the Spiders’ scores.
“No one moved the ball with any consistency against them,” Moore said.
It’s something that the Mountaineers will have to do in order to move on in the Football Championship Series playoffs. The Mountaineers play a 7:00 p.m. game on Saturday, December 5, at UR Stadium in Richmond, Va.
Only once this season has an opponent scored more than 21 points against Richmond, and the Spiders have held opponents to fewer than 18 points in seven games. Opponents average 14.8 points against Richmond.
“They are a very tough, well-coached football team,” Moore said. “They’ve won a lot of close ball games.”
The Spiders are a recognizable opponent to Mountaineer fans, as this is the third straight season that the two powerhouses have met in the FCS playoffs.
Last season, Richmond won 33-13 in Boone to move onto to the national semifinals. The Spiders eventually won the FCS national championship.
Players are looking forward to the rematch with the Spiders.
“We’re just happy to be playing another week,” wide receiver Blake Elder said. “That’s our main goal. It’s not to call out anybody on the schedule, but there is a little more motivation playing Richmond seeing as they knocked us out at home last year.”
Backup quarterback and return specialist Travaris Cadet is in his first year on the team but knows about this playoff rivalry.
“There’s a lot of talk [about revenge],” Cadet said. “I’ve been hearing about that since I got here. The players are hungry, and we want a national championship and this is a step we have to take to get there.”
It isn’t a big surprise that the Spiders and Mountaineers are playing again. In this tournament bracket, the NCAA tries to play games with teams from similar geographical regions.
“If you’re going to win championships, you’re going to have to play the best and certainly Appalachian State has been known to be one of the best FCS teams in the country for years,” Richmond coach Mike London said. “Coach Moore has done a fantastic job. We’re excited about the chance to play them here in Richmond, and we’re looking forward to an atmosphere that will be electric.”
This is the second straight week that the Mountaineers will face an opponent from last year’s playoffs. Last week, they knocked off the S.C. State Bulldogs 20-13 in an ESPNU-televised first-round game.
Last year, the Mountaineers committed seven turnovers in the rare home loss to the Spiders, including two interceptions that were returned inside the ASU 5-yard line. The Mountaineers were outscored 27-6 in the second half and Richmond outgained ASU 238-39 on the ground.
Plenty of players are back from last game, including Richmond quarterback Eric Ward, who ran for 174 yards in Richmond’s 16-13 win over Elon last week.
“You just know that year in and year out, [ASU is] going to have a great team,” Ward said. “I think we have to correct a few of the things we did last week because we know they’re going to come ready to play. They’re a perennial powerhouse, and each year they are in a position to play for a championship.”
ASU averages more offensive yards (462.2) than Richmond (354.2), but the Spiders’ defense holds opponents to fewer yards (278.7) than the Mountaineers (315.3) do.
London said that both teams will look to find ways to use their playmakers, particularly quarterbacks Ward and ASU’s Armanti Edwards.
“We have to put Eric and the team in positions that don’t require third and long,” London said. “We have to utilize our playmakers more. We have to utilize Eric’s legs and arms. I think he did a great job last week, particularly with his legs.”
The winner of this game will face the winner of Saturday’s Stephen F. Austin at Montana game.
Edwards a Finalist for Payton Award
ASU quarterback Armanti Edwards was informed Monday evening after practice that he is one of three finalists for the Walter Payton Award, which goes to the top player in FCS.
Edwards won the award last year and is trying to become the first back-to-back winner in the award’s 23-year history.
Edwards will be joined by Elon wide receiver Terrell Hudgins and Southern Illinois running back Deji Karim for the 2009 Payton Award announcement on December 17 in Chattanooga, Tenn.
Edwards accounted for 3,079 offensive yards in nine regular season games, as he missed two contests with injuries. He ranked among the nation’s top 15 in eight statistical categories and earned the Southern Conference Offensive Player of the Year award.
Voting for the Payton Award, along with the Buck Buchanan (top FCS defensive player) and Eddie Robinson (top FCS coach) awards, was conducted last week among national FCS media and sports information directors.
ASU defensive back Mark LeGree and coach Jerry Moore were among the 20 names on the ballot for the Buchanan and Robinson awards, respectively. Those awards don’t name three finalists. They will be awarded at the same banquet as the Payton Award.