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And Then There Were Two...

12/14/08
By Ray Alexander

This weekend the final four teams took the field to see who would make it to Chattanooga.  As the weekend came
to a close, we found out which two will battle it out to become the 2008 NCAA National Champion.  

On Friday night, the Montana Grizzlies took care of business as they defeated the James Madison Dukes.  JMU
give a valiant effort without Rodney Landers but in the end the Grizzlies came away with the big plays and won the
turnover battle.

Then on Saturday, Richmond traveled to Northern Iowa to take out the Panthers.  It took Eric Ward and a
two-minute drill and overcoming a 13-point deficit to book their trip to Choo Choo land, as he managed to find Joe
Stewart for the game winning touchdown.

There were some interesting notes coming out of this weekends games:  
   
             - For starters, both road teams got victories.  Montana answered all of their critics that claimed that they
couldn't win a playoff road game.  You can no longer knock the Grizzlies after an upset of the #1 seed.  Richmond
ended all the UNI fans from proclaiming the sarcastic CAA title as the Panthers were unable to come up with the big
play and big stop when it counted.  

             - For the second straight season a CAA program went on the road to a Missouri Valley Conference school
in the semi's and won a game.  

             - Last season's first semi final game saw special teams fumbles play a role.

             - For the second straight season five CAA programs made the playoffs.  However, it was an unseeded
CAA program that made the Championship Game.

As a true FCS fan it was good to see two competitive games.  Both were a lot of fun to follow and take part in and
makes you think if next week can get any better.  Perhaps we have saved the best game for last.
Monday Morning Musings

12/8/08
By Keith Irizarry

So, on Saturday we spent about 11 hours on air. Ray Alexander, Greg Rice, Matt Shortis and I broke down
matchups, broke down the plays of every game, and made some predictions.  A congratulations goes out to the
final four teams standing (Ray was the only one to predict that correctly…we’ll give him his props). There is no
doubt that all four have had tremendous seasons and have overcome injuries, etc. to make it to this point.  And
while I’m excited to see who will come out on top, I find myself thinking of one thing: did Appalachian State really
lose?  I’m not a “fan” per say of App State.  I have enjoyed their run, but I am not a Boone Crazy.  So, as shocked
as I am, imagine how the Mountaineer faithful feel.  But, here are a few thoughts on why Coach Moore, his staff, his
players, and the rest of the Boonies should keep their head up.  This is a little tribute to the dynasty that was
Appalachian State.

13 was their number….App State won more consecutive FCS Playoff games than any other team.  Think about
how great that is?  Here’s your playoffs: 2005 = 4-0. 2006 = 4-0. 2007 = 4-0. 2008 = 1-1.  Those are ridiculous
numbers.  (Youngstown State won 15 in a row from 1993-1999, but wasn’t part of the playoff field in 1995, 96, and
98…so their numbers are not as impressive as App).  

41 is a large number…that’s how many touchdowns Armanti Edwards had in total this season.  30 in the air and
11 on the ground.  It breaks a one-year old record in the SoCon (Elon’s Scott Riddle had 40 last year).  Hey Fans –
Edwards will be back next year.  There is still light at the end of this tunnel.

5 was a doomed number…well, it was if you were Michigan.  On September 1st, 2007, App State went into the
Big House and pulled arguably the greatest FCS/FBS upset in history.  The Mountaineers knocked off the 5th
ranked Michigan Wolverines.  Not only was it a great win, but we were all treated to one of the most genuine and
fun radio calls ever, as David Jackson belted out in adulation that Appalachian State had just won in the Big House.

More on the number 5…Saturday was the fifth playoff meeting between App and a CAA team. They had
previously been 4-0.

12 was the best number…in the country in reference to the App home-game winning streak that ended on
Saturday. Kidd Brewer Stadium and its 20,150 fans saw their Mountaineers lose at home for the first time since last
year’s 38-35 loss to Georgia Southern on Black Saturday.

Number 1 is the sweetest number…and that’s what App is in terms of the state of North Carolina. No other
school from NC has ever won a football National Championship.  Needless to say that App’s 3 consecutive won’t be
touched anytime soon!

But 4 is the number…that will evade the Mountaineers.  There are four teams left in the field of 16, and for the
first time in four years, App is not one of them.  It’s time for us all to sit back and enjoy the rest of the playoffs, but
also to think back at what we just witnessed.  Appalachian State won three consecutive titles.  It’s a feat that may
never be accomplished again.  I want to thank them for the journey they allowed us all to be a part of.  And
now…we start a new journey, we’ll see you in Harrisonburg, Cedar Falls and than in Chattanooga. Get your
popcorn ready and your seat cushions out; we’ve got a new Champion to crown on December 19th.
Monday Morning Musings

12/15/08
By Keith Irizarry

One of my favorite movies of all time is “Being John Malkovich.”  Back in 1999, Director Spike Jonze and writer
Charlie Kaufmann put together a movie about a puppeteer who discovers a portal that leads literally into the head
of the movie star, John Malkovich.  After the Richmond victory this weekend, it got me thinking: what would it have
been like to be in the head of Eric Ward for the final drive of the national semifinal?  Here is my interpretation - this
is what would be going through my head if I was Ward on that legendary drive.

Alright, we’re down 6, we got the ball on our 38 yard line, 1:45 on the clock no timeouts – no sweat, I live for this.
Let’s go boys, first play. Zing, Donte Boston across the middle, 7 yards. Clock’s rolling gotta move. Offsides
defense, I love free yards. Check the clock, 1:30, 1st and ten on the 50. To the line, I call out the cadence. They
look scared, these Panthers don’t want any part of me. Uh oh, play’s breaking down, it’s ok, I got legs and I can
certainly use them.  I’ll take it, 5 yards. There’s still a good deal of time. Let’s get to the line.  Looking over the
defense, I call out the plays. This two-minute drill stuff is fun. Donte’s open again, come on D, make the grab –
complete, 11 more yards. To the line, to the line, spike it. Cool, 2nd and ten on the 34, a little less than a minute.
Ok, we’re passing again, ah, incomplete. It’s ok, stay calm, no biggie, lead your troops…3rd and ten. In the huddle,
I look at Donte, he looks at me, “I got you.” 8-yard complete, this is what I do. Wait, we need two more yards. Coach
calls in the play quickly, this is our season, it’s on my shoulders. No one’s open, check down, there’s my safety
valve, Shawn’s got it (Shawn White). Shawn hasn’t had any stats since October 25th…it don’t matter, it’s complete
for 4 yards and a first down. This clock is rolling, but so are we.  Less than 30 seconds to play. I have 2 to 3 plays
left in me. Ball is set on the 22, first and ten. They’re shading Donte. Joe Stewart is gonna chip and release, he’ll be
open. Nope, he’s not, but Jordan Mitchell is.  Get out of bounds Jordan, YES!  This is as much fun as all the greats
say.  I’m in the zone, there is no way UNI will stop us. Ok, 2nd and one on the 13. Joe’s leaking out, I got him, I got
him, hold on Joe…Touchdown, that is how it’s done.  I run over to my main man Joe Stewart, “great grab, way to
hold on. That’s the biggest catch of your life.” He nods in approval. Man, that was fun. Tied up, still need Andrew
Howard to knock this extra point through. They call a timeout, but AH is unflappable.  He knocks it through. 9 plays,
62 yards, in 1:31, that’s what’s up.  Beat that Pat Grace.  14 seconds later, the game is over and we are headed to
the National Championship in Chatanooga.  Dreams do come true, but we still have one more game to take care
of.  I’m ready for an encore…Being Eric Ward, what an experience.