Coming off their first bowl victory, Appalachian State appeared fit to be in the FBS and primed to return to bowl season. Akron was also coming off of a successful bowl victory, and a victory over the Mountaineers would certainly keep them on pace to return.
We arrived in north east Ohio with the Appalachian State alumni group of Chicago. My partner is president of the chapter, so I had to toggle my allegiance for Appalachian State and Akron – doing a feature on a school while secretively rooting for their opponent is not an easy task. I spent half the time in the tailgate lots slamming a couple beers down with my Mountaineers shirt on, and the other half of the time running around Infocision Stadium in my Zips shirt taking photos and video.
I watched the arrival of both teams to the stadium. The Mountaineers rolled up in buses to be greeted by the App State fans that made the trip north. The Akron band and fans welcomed the arrival of their team as they headed into the locker room.
It was a gorgeous day for football, but the atmosphere around campus wasn’t necessarily electric. Last year’s bowl victory clearly wasn’t enough to inject massive fervor into the Akron fanbase.
Once settled in the stadium, and freer from excessive tshirt costume changes, the game came into focus. App State’s Jalin Moore ran for over 250 yards and it looked like the Mountaineers would run away with the victory, but the Zips fought back, giving the fans who stayed an entertaining 4th quarter.
In the end, Appalachian State would hold on for the 45-38 win. It was a showcase of the fighting spirit you would want from both teams – a fight that would hopefully last through November.