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App goes for third straight while UD hopes for upset

    CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. — At Appalachian State, it’s called ‘‘The Game For The Ages.’’ Fans wanting a way to commemorate the Mountaineers’ shocking upset of Michigan can get limited edition artwork, travel mugs, posters and T-shirts.
    As for the most important part of Appalachian State’s season, a T-shirt with a three-word slogan is all that’s need to sum it up: ‘‘QUEST FOR 3.’’
    Appalachian State, the first FCS team to beat a ranked major college team, has returned to Chattanooga to become the first FCS team to win three consecutive national championships.
    The Mountaineers (12-2) play Delaware (11-3) on Friday night. A possible good omen for Appalachian State: The Blue Hens wear helmets patterned after Michigan’s famous winged design.
    Appalachian State quarterback Armanti Edwards is irritated by fans who think beating Michigan win is more important than winning a title.
    ‘‘They try to put that up with a national championship. Beating Michigan was a great win for our school history. Winning the national championship? That shows we were the best team in our D I-AA this year,’’ Edwards said.
    Running back Kevin Richardson said Appalachian State coach Jerry Moore asks how they want to be remembered.
    ‘‘Winning (Friday), that right there will do it there. You’ll be remembered for that always,’’ Richardson said. ‘‘You always want to go out with a bang. We’re going to come out and play our hearts out and hopefully be successful.’’
    Appalachian State is one of only three programs that have won back-to-back titles in the Football Championship Subdivision. The Mountaineers are only the fifth team to play in the title game three straight years.
    Delaware coach K.C. Keeler sent Moore congratulations after the Michigan victory even though he is a fan of the Wolverines. He said people forget the other FCS victories over FBS teams, including his Hens beating Navy 59-52 on Oct. 27.
    ‘‘I think it gives credibility to our level of football,’’ he said.
    Keeler and his Blue Hens from the Colonial Athletic Association are back here for the second time in five years, looking to add another title to the 2003 one they earned by beating Colgate 40-0. Keeler calls it their shot at immortality.
    ‘‘To be the best, you have to beat the best. Now’s our chance to see if we can beat the defending national champions, and the only fitting way to be national champion is to beat the defending national champions,’’ Keeler said.
    The Blue Hens feature an explosive offense led by All-American running back Omar Cuff, who has 1,861 yards rushing and 38 touchdowns, and Joe Flacco, the 6-foot-6, 230-pound quarterback and Pittsburgh transfer who has had pro scouts studying him.
    He has thrown for 3,929 yards with 22 TDs and only five interceptions. The Blue Hens average 37.3 points and 462.6 yards offense per game.
    ‘‘Either one of those guys are capable of beating you on one play,’’ Moore said. ‘‘But you have to defend Delaware. You don’t defend the quarterback. You don’t defend the running back.’’
    Moore left starting cornerback Justin Woezeah and reserve linebacker Chris Johnson home for disciplinary reasons, and the coach said it wouldn’t affect his defense. He still has All-American safety Corey Lynch, who has six interceptions.
    Appalachian State counters with Edwards who totaled 495 yards, 313 rushing, in the Mountaineers’ 55-35 semifinal victory over Richmond.
    ‘‘He’s playing at a level faster than everybody else on the film,’’ Keeler said.
    The Mountaineers of the Southern Conference average 483.2 yards total offense and 42.3 points per game. Richardson, Appalachian State’s career rushing leader, has run for 1,230 yards this season.
    Appalachian State has won seven games, including all three playoff games at home. Having sold 7,800 tickets compared to 3,000 by the Blue Hens for this sellout at Finley Stadium, it should almost like another home game for the Mountaineers.
    Delaware reached this game by beating previously unbeaten Northern Iowa in the quarterfinals and Southern Illinois in the semifinals. Both wins came on the road. Keeler thinks that helped bond his team even closer.
    ‘‘We’re not concerned about that at all,’’ Keeler said.

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