New rivals: Recent history points to competitive game between Troy and App. State

Published 6:53 pm Tuesday, November 20, 2018

When Appalachian State and Troy meet on the football field you are assured of two things; the game will be competitive and there will be a lot on the line.

Both should be true once again on Saturday when the two teams meet for the Sun Belt Conference East Division title in Boone, North Carolina.

In the last two meetings between the two programs, the games have been decided by a total of seven points.

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“The two games we’ve played against them have been really entertaining football games,” said Troy head coach Neal Brown. “I expect this one will be as well.”
In coach Brown’s first season at Troy, the Trojans made a trip to Boone and pushed the Mountaineers into triple overtime before ultimately coming up short 44-41.

“Even though we lost the game – that was our first sign that our kids were like, ‘OK, I can see this stuff coming together,” Brown said. “We get beat in triple overtime. That was the year they won the championship or were co-champions. I can’t remember. Our guys’ belief and confidence really grew in that game.”

In 2016, both the Trojans and the Mountaineers rode into Veterans Memorial Stadium with an undefeated record, Troy at 4-0 and the Mountaineers at 5-0. Running back Jordan Chunn scored the game’s winning touchdown and Troy later became the first Sun Belt Conference team to be ranked in the AP Top-25 Poll.

“It was a great football game, probably as good of a crowd, as loud of a crowd as we’ve had here,” Brown said. “We scored the touchdown and we get a stop and win the game and get nationally ranked – which was huge.”

The Mountaineers have won a share of the conference championship in each of the last two seasons. With Troy and the Mountaineers regularly sitting near the top of the standings year in and year out, this game has all the makings of a natural rivalry.

“I think over the last three or four years, if you look at who’s been at the top, it’s been App, us and Arkansas State,” Brown said. “I think it has potential – now that we’re in the East and play every year – it has the potential to build into a really good rivalry.”

With such high stakes on the line, Saturday’s contest won’t be hard to get excited about for the Troy players

“It’s always a big game,” said Hunter Reese. “It’s never hard to get ready for it. Everybody is always pumped and excited. That was one of the first games during my freshman year that I actually got meaningful playing time, so it will be fun to go back up there and play again.”

With competitive play comes good college football atmospheres. Both Troy and Appalachian State are near the top in the conference in attendance and with so much on the line, it’s hard to imagine anything but a packed house in Boone.

“I fully expect, even though it’s supposed to be 45 degrees and raining, that those people up there will be hanging off the rafters and that it will be a packed house,” said Troy defensive coordinator Vic Koenning.

The Trojans hope to make it two wins in a row against the Mountaineers on Saturday. Kickoff is scheduled for 1:30 p.m. and can be seen on ESPN Plus.