App State uses two turnovers to stun No. 6 Texas A&M 17-14

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COLLEGE STATION, Texas – On paper, there was no reason to believe that Appalachian State would have a chance Saturday against No. 6 Texas A&M.

But Mountaineers coach Shawn Clark, who makes 10 times less than the over $9 million Texas A&M coach Jimbo Fisher receives each season at the Southeastern Conference school, made it clear to his 18 1/2-point underdog team that the game is not played on paper and mindset would mean everything.

“The key was belief,” an exhausted Clark said. “You have to believe in yourself and believe in this program. I told them take the logo off of the helmet, take the logo off the field and let’s go play football.”

And play football they did, with Chase Brice throwing for 134 yards and a touchdown and a stingy defense taking advantage of two turnovers to stun the Aggies 17-14.

“It didn’t feel real at first,” Brice said. “I’ll be honest, I was just in shock. I just couldn’t believe the way we fought and finished. It was just great.”

Appalachian State won a week after scoring six touchdowns and 40 points in the fourth quarter in a 63-61 opening loss to North Carolina.

“It means something to me to beat the No. 6-ranked program,” Clark said. “It’s two different programs. We don’t recruit at the same level. We don’t have what they have, but we have a lot of heart and we have the right kind of players in our program.”

Clark was thrilled to see Brice lead his team to the win after his school-record six-touchdown performance last week wasn’t enough to complete the comeback.

“He was crushed,” Clark said. “He loves this program and today was his shining moment.”

Along with the victory, the Mountaineers got a fat $1.5 million check to take back with them to Boone, North Carolina, for playing this game.

Appalachian State (1-1) settled for a 29-yard field goal by Michael Hughes to take a 17-14 lead with about eight minutes left after Christian Wells was wide open but dropped a touchdown pass on third down.

The Aggies (1-1) had a chance to tie it with about 3 1/2 minutes to go, but a 47-yard field goal attempt by Caden Davis was short.

Camerun Peoples, who finished with 112 yards rushing, had a 1-yard run on third down on the next possession to keep Appalachian State’s drive going. He then dashed 48 yards to the 12 on the next play and the Mountaineers ran out the clock.

“At the end of the day, that’s my fault as the head football coach,” Fisher said. “We have to have guys ready in all three phases. We had chances to make plays in all three phases.. We had opportunities, but we have to coach it better. That’s on me.”

It’s Appalachian State’s first win over a team in The AP Top 25 as a FBS team after losing in overtime to No. 9 Tennessee in 2016 and dropping an OT game to No. 9 Penn State in 2018.

The Mountaineers famously knocked off No. 5 Michigan 34-32 with a last-second blocked field goal in Ann Arbor in 2007 when they were still in the FCS.

“Respect all those guys they were great,” offensive lineman Cooper Hodges said. “But I’m tired of hearing about Michigan. I want our legacy to be Sun Belt champions and I want our legacy to be beating Texas A&M.”

The Mountaineers kept A&M’s offense in check a week after Clark was left looking for ways to fix his defense after the 63-point outburst by North Carolina.

Devon Achane ran for a touchdown in the first half and returned a kickoff for a score in the third, but the Aggies had trouble getting much else going on a mistake-filled day.

The Mountaineers outgained A&M 305-186 and had 22 first downs to just nine by the Aggies. They controlled time of possession, too, holding a 41:29 to 18:31 advantage in that area.

Fisher said he would consider a change at quarterback this week after a sub-par performance by Haynes King. He added that they probably would have made the switch Saturday if the game had gone differently.

“We were but we never had the ball,” he said. “If we had got more possessions maybe so.”

The Aggies were driving in the third quarter when Dexter Lawson Jr. forced a fumble by Evan Stewart after a 13-yard reception and it was recovered by Nick Hampton.

The Mountaineers took a 14-7 lead when Henry Pearson grabbed a 9-yard TD reception from Brice with about 2 1/2 minutes left in the third.

The lead was short-lived as Achane returned the ensuing kickoff 95 yards for a touchdown seconds later. Achane, who is a sprinter on Texas A&M’s track team, juked a defender before shedding a would-be tackler and racing downfield for the score to tie it at 14-all.

King was sacked by DeAndre Dingle-Prince and fumbled late in the first quarter. Texas A&M lineman Layden Robinson recovered the ball, but he also fumbled and this time Appalachian State recovered it.

They cashed in on the mistake when Ahmani Marshall scored on a 4-yard touchdown run that made it 7-0 early in the second quarter.

The Aggies tied it up when Achane dashed 26 yards for a touchdown on the next drive.

King finished with 97 yards passing.

THE TAKEAWAY

The loss puts a huge dent on Texas A&M’s preseason goal of finally contending for a national title, leaving the Aggies in an early hole before they even begin the rigors of SEC play.

RECORD TALK

Fisher was hired to take A&M to the next level after coach Kevin Sumlin was fired after his sixth season. But so far Fisher hasn’t done any better than Sumlin did in his time with the Aggies.

Sumlin was 36-14 in his first 50 games and Saturday’s loss dropped Fisher to 35-15 in his first 50.

POLL IMPLICATIONS

The Aggies are certain to plummet in the poll after losing to an unranked opponent. Appalachian State should enter the poll after the big upset.

UP NEXT

Appalachian State: Hosts Troy next Saturday.

Texas A&M: Hosts No. 15 Miami next Saturday night.

Clemson gives raises, contract extensions to staff

Ken Ruinard/USA TODAY NETWORK
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CLEMSON, S.C. — Clemson’s board of trustees approved raises for special teams coordinator and cornerbacks coach Mike Reed and defensive tackles coach Nick Eason.

Reed and Eason also received one-year extensions keeping them tied to the Tigers through Jan. 31, 2026.

Reed, who’s been with the Tigers since 2013, had his yearly salary increased $50,000 to $800,000. Eason, the former Clemson standout defensive lineman, joined the staff this past season. He also had his compensation upped by $50,000 to $800,000.

Seven other assistants were given one-year extensions by the trustees’ compensation committee, but without a raise in salary.

Co-defensive coordinators Wes Goodwin and Mickey Conn had their contracts extended through Jan. 31, 2026.

Defensive ends coach Lemanski Hall, tight ends coach Kyle Richardson, offensive line coach Thomas Austin, running backs coach C.J. Spiller and wide receivers coach Tyler Grisham all got one-year extensions through Jan. 31, 2025.

New offensive coordinator Garrett Riley last month received a three-year contract at $1.75 million per season.

Clemson will pay its 10 on-field assistants $7.475 million this season, an increase of $925,000 from the total for 2022.

The Tigers went 11-3 last season, winning the Atlantic Coast Conference title for the seventh time in the past eight seasons.

South Carolina’s Beamer suspends three freshmen from program

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Corey Perrine/USA TODAY NETWORK
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COLUMBIA, S.C. — South Carolina coach Shane Beamer said freshmen Monteque Rhames II, Anthony Rose and Cameron Upshaw were suspended from the football program.

There was no reason given for the suspensions in the school’s statement Friday. Online records showed Rhames, 18, was booked last night and was being held at the Alvin S. Glenn Detention Center on charges of carrying weapons on school property and obstructing justice.

“Our student-athletes know what is expected of them,” Beamer said. “They know that both the university and the football program will hold them accountable for their actions and decisions.”

None of the three have played for the Gamecocks.

Rose is a 6-foot-1, 190-pound defensive back from Miami who enrolled in January 2022 and redshirted this season. Rhames and Upshaw were part of South Carolina’s latest recruiting class and enrolled last month.

Rhames is a 6-5, 235-pound defensive lineman from Sumter and Upshaw is a 6-2, 193-pound safety from Perry, Florida.