Boone, NC—Taylor Lamb three for three first half touchdowns and Marcus Cox rushed for over 100 yards to lead Appalachian State to a 49-0 shutout over Howard University in the season opener at Kidd Brewer Stadium.
The Bison (0-1) played competitively early but missed some chances to establish themselves. From there, the Mountaineers (1-0) found their rhythm, using its running game and big plays in the passing game to put the game away early.
ASU got on the board on its first possession when Lamb engineered a 14-play, 76-yard drive that was culminated by a 5-yard toss Barrett Burns at the 5:47 mark of the first quarter.
Howard, with red-shirt freshman quarterback Kalen Johnson under center for the first time in his career, failed to move the ball, giving it right back to the Mountaineers.
It took them only five plays to go 85 yards as Marcus Cox broke free and outraced the Bison defenders 68 yards for the score, making it 14-0 with a little less than two minutes left in the quarter.
With the Bison unable to get first downs and forced to punt, Lamb capitalized connecting with Shaedon Meadows from 50 yards and coming back four minutes later to hook up with Simms McElfresh on a 17-yard strike and take a 28-0 lead to the locker room.
“I think we came out and did somewhat okay offensively and defensively,” said Howard head coach Gary “Flea” Harrell. “Somehow we lost momentum towards the end of the first quarter going into the second quarter. We have no excuses. We just have to do a better job on stopping the run.”
The Bison, who came into the game with a shortage of defensive linemen, had three more go down during the course of the game. Tray Haugabook, Richard Johnson and Marquese Blanchard all suffered injuries.
The Mountaineers, who punted only twice all game, added another Lamb TD pass, this time to McElfresh to start the third quarter and extend the lead to 35-0. He then handed the reins over J.P. Caruso. ASU amassed over 600 yards of total offense in winning its seventh straight, dating back to last season..
“They just outexecuted us,” noted defensive back Jacob Bennett, who recorded a career-high 13 tackles. “We have a lot of people out but that’s no excuse. We have a lot of work to do, especially in the tackling area.”
Howard lost the battle in third down conversions, making only one of 13 while the Mountaineers were seven of 13 and three of four on fourth down.
Johnson, who hails from Pearland, TX completed 12 of 20 for 119 yards in his debut. He was able to lead the Bison to the Red Zone at the start of the fourth quarter, but they were stopped for a one-yard loss on fourth down at the ASU 19-yard line
“They did everything we expected them to do defensively,” said Johnson. “I feel like we did some things well; we just have to string things together. I haven’t played in a while and the game was definitely fast. I feel like I got my feet under me and there are some positives that I can take from this game and learn from as we move forward.”
Added Harrell. “I think that this experience gave him game time experience. Kalen is going to get better as we go along. I feel good about our quarterback situation.”
One of the bright spots for Howard was the performance of senior punter/placekicker John Fleck , who averaged almost 46 yards per punt, including an 83-yard effort that set a new school record. The previous mark was 80 yards held by Cedric Rawls against Indiana of PA in 1989.
NEXT UP: The Bison travel to Chestnut Hills, MA to face another FBS opponent in Boston College next Saturday at 1 pm.