BOONE - For 2 ½ quarters on Saturday, it didn't look as if North Carolina A&T was outmanned against third-ranked Appalachian State. But a second quarter blocked punt and an interception thrown deep in ASU territory gave the Mountaineers the edge they needed in a 58-6 win over the Aggies at Kidd Brewer Stadium.
"You can't make mistakes like we made against a good football team like that," said N.C. A&T head coach Rod Broadway. "We had a chance to put some points on the board and at least make the game look closer, but it got away from us because we're not quite good enough to close that gap."
Operating with 35 fewer scholarship athletes than ASU, N.C. A&T had some good moments. But the Aggies' good moments were often offset by miscues. The Mountaineers were able to jump out to a 14-0 lead in the first 10 minutes of the ballgame.
But special teams put the Aggies in position to answer the ASU early start as D'Vonte Grant recovered a muffed punt at the ASU 37-yard line. Two plays into the drive, a false start penalty turned a 3rd-and-4 into a 3rd-and-9. The Aggies couldn't convert the longer third down play, forcing them to punt.
ASU's Phillip Strickland raced through the middle of the Aggies' protection to block Skyler Thomas' punt, setting up the Mountaineers at the 50. Nine players later Cedric Baker Boney charged in from two yards out to make it a 21-0 game.
"That was a big turning point for us," said Broadway. "We're thinking at that point we have two snaps to get a first down. Instead, we get the penalty, we have to move back and they block the punt."
Despite their misfortunes, the Aggies wouldn't let the Mountaineers rest. Aggies quarterback Lewis Kindle opened the second half with a 31-yard completion to Wallace Miles. Three plays later, the two Westlake High School grads hooked up for a 40-yard touchdown pass to cut ASU's lead to 21-6.
ASU added another touchdown on a Brian Quick 9-yard reception from DeAndre Pressley. Again, the Aggies kept the pressure on. Ricky Lewis took a direct snap and sprinted 24 yards to the ASU 24. On the next play, however, Kindle was flushed out of the pocket and tried to make a play downfield. His pass was intercepted by Troy Sanders at the 5-yard line and returned 27 yards. This time, the Aggies couldn't overcome the momentum shift.
"We started pressing for points," said Kindle. "We were trying to get the ball in the end zone and make a comeback. I just have to realize there is a whole game to play, so just stay consistent with what we're doing."
Kindle followed up his 341-yard performance of last week with a 165-yard day that saw him throw one touchdown pass and two interceptions. Miles finished with seven catches for 155 yards and a touchdown. N.C. A&T safety Travis Crosby recorded 18 tackles.
"Not having a lot of depth is something we have to learn to fight with all year because it's not going to change," said Miles. "We realize we're going into every game with one hand tied behind our back, so we have to learn how to fight and be disciplined."
The Aggies will be off next week before returning to Aggie Stadium to face Coastal Carolina on September 24 at 4 p.m.