Amos shines, but MU falls to potent App State
Mountaineers top RedHawks in soggy bowl battle
By MIKE SMITH
ORLANDO, FL -- Officially, Appalachian State defeated the Miami RedHawks 13-9 to win the Avocados from Mexico Cure Bowl Saturday at FBC Mortgage Stadium.
Unofficially, the Mountaineers prevailed in what might be remembered by participating players and coaches as the 2023 Orlando Monsoon Bowl. The contest was played in a rainstorm that dumped an estimated 1.61 inches of rain on the stadium before halftime. Beyond soaking participants to the skin, it created slippery conditions that significantly affected footing and ball handling. There were 13 fumbles in the game, with Miami losing three and App State giving up two. Another miscue led to MU missing an extra point on its only touchdown.
With their victory, the Mountaineers raised their 2023 record to 9-5. They also picked up their seventh victory in eight bowl games at the FBS level. Half of those were against MAC teams. Miami, which was facing App State for the first time, fell to 11-3 on the campaign.
Ultimately, it was the Mountaineers who . . .
. . . handled conditions the best. They outgained MU 388-227 overall and doubled up the RedHawks in first downs, 22-11.
Junior quarterback Joey Aguilar was the catalyst for App State, completing 18 of 32 passes totaling 211 yards in spite of the conditions. He was also intercepted once.
The Mountaineers also got 177 yards from their ground game. Anderson Castle led the way, carrying 20 times for 119 yards (6.0 ypc), while Kanye Roberts logged 10 trips totaling 48 yards. Aguilar ran for App State's only touchdown.
Michael Hughes accounted for App State's other points on two field goals and a PAT.
Sophomore running back Rashad Amos was the RedHawks workhorse, averaging 5.3 ypc while carrying 33 times for 180 of Miami's 183 rushing yards. His 29-yard third quarter scamper was Miami's only touchdown.
With Brett Gabbert (injury) and Aveon Smith (transfer portal) unavailable, MU was forced to use little-used Henry Hesson and former Colorado QB Maddox Kopp, who was unavailable during the regular season. Together, they threw just 10 passes, completing six for a toral of 44 yards. Most of that came on a 28-yard Kopp pass to Gage Larvadain
Both Miami scores followed App State turnovers, with one of those miscues coming on the game's first play from scrimmage. Yashyn McKee dove in for an interception, allowing MU to take over at the Mountaineers 41-yard line. Three Amos runs moved Miami to the 17-yard line. After an incompletion, Graham Nicholson kicked a 34-yard field goal.
It was MU's only lead of the game. App State responded with a 71-yard drive, tying the game on Hughes' 29-yard kick. After a RedHawk punt, the Mountaineers mounted a 13-play, 88-yard drive that finished with Hughes' second field goal.
Miami lost two fumbles and punted once on its next three drives. App State took its 6-3 lead to intermission.
MU reached the Mountaineers' on its first drive of the second half but lost possession on downs. App State then drove 73 yards in 11 plays for what would be a clinching TD. Aguilar covered the final nine yards with a run and led 13-3 with 4:46 remaining in the third stanza.
Both offenses sputtered after that, but Miami's offense took over near midfield with just under 10 minute left in the game when Ty Wise fell on a Mountaineer fumble. Three runs yielded just four yards, bringing up fourth and six. When MU elected to punt, Alec Bevelhimer's punt went just 16 yards. Although the RedHawks defense forced a three-and-out punt, the 53 yard boot pinned Miami at its 9-yard line with 5:50 to go.
Amos carried six straight times before Mozee picked up four yards, moving MU to App State's 46. It was third and three when the Mountaineers forced a final fumble that was recovered by Ronald Clark. App State took over with 2:39 remaining and ran out the clock.
Editor-Publisher Mike Smith
Mike grew up in Mid-American Conference football and basketball territory and returned there after military service. He has been covering MAC football and men's basketball for much of the last several decades.