Saturday, December 16, 2006
Kevin Richardson led Appalachian State to its second straight Division I-AA national championship, running for 179 yards and four touchdowns in the Mountaineers' 28-17 victory over Massachusetts last night in Chattanooga.
Richardson's third touchdown put the Mountaineers (14-1) ahead 21-14 at the beginning of the fourth quarter. He added another from two yards out with 1 minute 51 seconds left that gave him the I-AA record for rushing touchdowns in a season with 30.
Appalachian State is the first team to win consecutive crowns in six years.
The Minutemen (13-2), hoping to win their first title since 1998, cut it to 21-17 on Chris Koepplin's 42-yard field goal with 8:46 left. Massachusetts got the ball back, but Appalachian State's Corey Lynch intercepted a pass to seal it.
Appalachian State was ranked fourth nationally in rushing offense, and Richardson came into the game with 1,497 yards on the ground.
Richardson broke the touchdown record of 29 set by Colgate's Jamaal Branch in 2003.
Mountaineers freshman quarterback Armanti Edwards managed the game well and finished 12 of 19 for 146 yards. He also ran 15 times for 81 yards as Appalachian State totaled 285 yards on the ground.
Richardson's counterpart, Steve Baylark, tried to carry the Minutemen. He ran for 133 yards on 24 carries.
Massachusetts tied it at 14 in the third quarter on Liam Coen's 17-yard pass to Brad Listorti, who tiptoed a few yards down the sideline to stay in bounds and score.
The Minutemen had not allowed an opponent to score in the second half during the playoffs, but Appalachian State responded with a drive that lasted nearly six minutes and was capped by Richardson's four-yard run with 13:22 remaining.
The crowd of 22,808 was a sellout and the largest for the I-AA title game since it moved to Chattanooga in 1997.
-- From News Services