App State coach opens up about heartbreaking loss

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APP STATE NEAR MISS AGONISING

The Dash spoke to the Appalachian State coach Scott Satterfield (31) In Monday. He said he was in good spirits before admitting he hadn’t slept for the past two days.

“You keep thinking,” he said, “what could we do differently?”

The answer is, very little. A young Mountaineers team played a brilliant game at Powerhouse State of Pennsylvania (32) on Saturday, taking a lead in the final minute and then losing in overtime. It would have been a prohibitive favorite for 2018 Upset of the Year, coming 11 years to the day after App State etched itself into college football lore with a shock win at Michigan.

Alas, the one thing that likely would have frozen the game is definitely something App State couldn’t have done differently – delaying its final landing. When the Mountaineers reached the end zone with 1:47 remaining to take a 38-31 lead — and cap a staggering 28-point fourth quarter — the immediate thought was that they had scored too early.

They gave Penn State quarterback Trace McSorley the opportunity to lead the tie, forcing overtime and winning them there. In reality, however, there is no such thing as scoring too early.

You couldn’t logically expect running back Jalin Moore to instantly deal with the time and situation of the game and stop his 16-yard touchdown run, sliding on the ground or out of bounds so the Mountaineers could bleed the clock in a minute before attempting a decisive field goal. It just doesn’t work that way.

“I’ve never been on a team where you say, ‘Don’t score,'” Satterfield said. “In a perfect world, you score that touchdown with 15 seconds left, but it was a guy putting in a hell of a lot of effort to get into the end zone.”

Appalachian State defensemen Thomas Hennigan (5), Corey Sutton (2) and Josh Thomas (7) broke a pass intended for Penn State’s KJ Hamler in the end zone last week. (AP)

Moore did the right thing. The play that haunts Satterfield the most is his inability to adequately cover the ensuing kickoff. Michael Rubino, who did a great job kicking off the entire game, knocked this one down in the end zone – then running back KJ Hamler hesitated for several seconds before stepping out.

“I really think that turned our guys off,” Satterfield said.

A slight breakdown in lane discipline and a missed tackle later, Hamler had taken the ball in midfield. Seven plays later, McSorley hit Hamler for the tying touchdown.

In the loss, Appalachian State further validated its FBS progress. The Mountaineers have won 30 games in the previous three seasons and three bowl games. The only thing missing is the removal of the signing from the program made 11 years earlier.

There was an excruciating loss at Tennessee in 2016, and now this one at Penn State. That’s enough to leave a coach proud of his players but still staring at the ceiling at night.

“At some point,” Satterfield said, “you have to make one more play.”

TUA VS. TOA, A TALE FROM BAND-A

Their first names are only separated by a vowel. They share a Samoan heritage. They had a splashy season-opening performance on Saturday.

other than that, Tua Tagovailoa (33) and Toa Taua (34) have taken quite different paths so far. A brief overview of the two:

Tua: Quarterback in Alabama, hero of the national championship game.

Toa: Potential three-star linebacker who now plays in Nevada.

Tua: Was great tossing the ball on his first college start, scoring a whopping 235.4 passing efficiency rating while shredding Louisville.

Toa: Was even better throwing the ball — he had a 73-yard touchdown on a halfback pass in a Portland State rout, earning a passing efficiency rating of 1,043.2.

Tua: Also showed his wheels while running for 33 yards and a touchdown against Louisville.

Toa: Showed his wheels by rushing for 56 yards against Portland State.

Tua: Caught zero assists.

Toa: Had a hold for 9 yards.

Tua: Considered a Heisman Trophy contender and the top quarterback prospect of Nick Saban’s college coaching career.

Toa: Is listed as the third string at running back heading into the Nevada game at Vanderbilt.

RUINED DRINKING GAME OF THE WEEK

In The Dash’s relentless effort to get readers tipsy, this week’s killer drinking game:

Have a drink whenever a broadcaster calls their colleague in the booth”Partner (35)Often in the context of “We’ve got a good one here, partner!” But it has become ubiquitous. Names are apparently no longer necessary when a false “partner!” can be substituted.

STATS OF THE WEEK

The most unshakeable of football truisms remains intact after the first weekend: win the turnover battle and you will almost always win the game. This week, teams that had a positive rotation margin were 43-7. Teams that were plus-3 or more were 15-1.

The one exception: Kentucky, which has been either remarkably resourceful or remarkably lucky over the past two seasons. In 2017, only two teams were 4-under or higher and still won a game: Auburn was 5-under against understaffed Mercer, and Kentucky was 4-under and still beat Tennessee.

This year, the Wildcats were 4-under against Central Michigan and still prevailed. Other under-4 teams that won: Utah (36) on Weber’s state and Kansas State (37) on South Dakota.

COACH WHO WON HIS COMP CAR THIS WEEK

Matt Canada (38), Maryland. The Terrapins’ interim coach took over in dark times, with head coach DJ Durkin suspended and the school investigating whether an allegedly abusive culture within the program contributed to the death of the player Jordan McNair last spring during conditioning workouts.

The result of that investigation is entirely separate from what happened on the court Saturday, where Maryland used an inspired effort to upset Texas for the second straight season. Canada found creative ways to use freshman receiver Jeshaun Jones, who scored the first three times he touched the ball as a college kid: on a 28-yard run, a 65-yard reception and a 20-yard pass.

Durkin may or may not be back. But in the meantime, Canada has done a great job of keeping the Maryland team together.

COACH WHO SHOULD TAKE THE BUS TO WORK

Tom Herman (39), Texas. The flip side of an emotional upset win is a dismal upset loss, where Herman finds himself for the second year in a row. Herman was highly sought after and richly rewarded after doing a great job in Houston, but he hasn’t done anything yet to make Longhorns fans believe he’ll return the program to elite status.

Herman made a nice attempt at a literary analogy for the loss this week, saying his team wanted to win so badly it was like Lennie in “Of Mice and Men.” In the novel, Lennie killed a puppy, a mouse, and a woman out of misplaced zeal to love all three of them. The problem was that Herman said Lennie “killed the bunny.” Just one more runtime error for Herman to clean up in the future.

DOT AFTER

When thirsty in the beer-rich state of Colorado, The Dash recommends a ride in the Rocky Mountains to hit Westbound and Down Brewery (40) in Idaho Springs. It’s a cool property on the charming downtown street, and the beer is great. Try a Solera Saison or one of the multiple IPAs and thank The Dash later.

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