Photo courtesy of NCAA
An FBS program since 2014, Appalachian State has evolved into one of the Sun Belt’s perennial powers. There was a time, however, when the Mountaineers were the premier FCS program in the country.
Despite being a reigning national champion, few expected that Appalachian State would be any match for No. 5 Michigan in the 2007 season opener. That’s where most went wrong.
On this day 15 years ago, the Mountaineers captured a signature moment as a program. Appalachian State blocked a last-second field goal attempt to stun Michigan at “The Big House,” 34-32.
Setting the Stage
Appalachian State had won consecutive national championships as it arrived at Michigan Stadium on Sept. 1, 2007. The Mountaineers opened the 2006 season with a respectable 23-10 loss to NC State before winning their final 14 games.
Michigan finished 11-2, ranked in the top 10 and as a Rose Bowl participant in 2006. Ranked No. 5 to start the year, the Wolverines entered with large expectations. Between 1989 and 2006, no FCS team had managed to knock off a ranked FBS school.
Appalachian State Finds a Way
More than 100,000 fans who packed Michigan Stadium could not believe what they were witnessing in the 2007 opener. Trailing 14-7 after a quarter, Appalachian State responded with 21 straight points as quarterback Armanti Edwards tossed a pair of touchdowns and rushed for another.
The Mountaineers led 28-17 at halftime and 31-20 late in the third quarter before Michigan running back Mike Hart, who finished with 188 yards rushing and three touchdowns, gave the maze and blue hope — and the lead. After his 4-yard touchdown late in the third cut the lead to five, Hart’s 54-yard touchdown rumble with less than five minutes to go put Michigan back in front, 32-31.
Appalachian State, however, had one last scoring drive in it. Following an Edwards interception and a missed field goal from Michigan, the Appalachian State quarterback started the final Mountaineer drive with an 18-yard run before four straight completions moved the ball to the Michigan 5-yard-line.
With 26 seconds to go, kicker Julian Rauch’s 24-yard field goal put Appalachian State back in front. Michigan, however, still had time.
A 46-yard completion from Chad Henne to Mario Manningham put the Wolverines in field goal range. With just six seconds to go, Jason Gingell came in to try a 37-yard field goal to win it.
2-for-3 on the day, Gingell’s kick never got skyward. Appalachian State’s Corey Lynch was able to block the kick as the Mountaineers had done the unthinkable.
Box Score and Recap:
Following the victory, Appalachian State ascended into the AP Poll, but the Mountaineers wouldn’t make it out of September unscathed. Appalachian State suffered losses to Wofford and Georgia Southern before winning eight straight games and the FCS national title to close the year.
Michigan would be blown out by Oregon the following week but bounced back to win eight straight. After consecutive losses to Wisconsin and Ohio State to close the regular season, the Wolverines capped the year with an Outback Bowl win over Florida to finish 9-4 and in the top 20.
Despite FCS national championships, Sun Belt championships and bowl victories, Appalachian State’s win in Ann Arbor remains the signature moment in program history. It came on this day 15 years ago.
Mike Ferguson is the managing editor for Fifth Quarter. Be sure to follow Mike on Twitter at @MikeWFerguson. Follow all of Mike’s work by liking his Facebook page.