BOONE — Joey Aguilar came off the bench to throw four touchdown passes and Appalachian State pulled away from Gardner-Webb for a 45-24 season-opening win on Saturday.
Aguilar, a California junior college transfer, threw a 32-yard touchdown to Kaedin Robinson on his first pass, which put the Mountaineers up 14-10 late in the first half. His second touchdown was a 26-yard connection with Dashaun Davis for a 21-17 lead.
Jayden Brown’s third touchdown, a 41-yard pass from Matthew Caldwell, put Gardner-Webb on top 24-21 but after Aguilar connected with Dalton Stroman for 43 yards and a 28-24 lead, the defense took over.
From there the Bulldogs had a three-and-out and three-straight turnovers. Those turned into a 43-yard field goal, a 7-yard touchdown rushing for Nate Noel and Aguilar’s 7-yard pass to Christian Horn.
Aguilar finished 11 of 13 for 174 yards in what appeared to be a planned relief appearance. Starter Ryan Burger, a redshirt freshman, was 7 of 11 for 70 yards, with his first collegiate touchdown, a 12-yard pass to Eli Wilson, opened the scoring. Noel had 24 carries for 117 yards.
Brown also had rushing touchdowns of 8 and 16 yards for the Bulldogs.
Appalachian State plays at No. 21 UNC next Saturday.