BOONE, N.C. – Chris Howley and the Maine offensive line knew when the defining moment arrived.

Ahead by six, second half, on the road against an Appalachian State program with three not-too-distant national titles, and it was fourth-and-1.

The Black Bears responded, giving Pushaun Brown a crease and watching him churn for extra yardage.

One snap later, Warren Smith threw his third touchdown pass and Maine was comfortably on the way to a 34-12 victory in the second round of the NCAA football playoffs.

Maine will visit third-seeded and second-ranked Georgia Southern in the quarterfinals next Saturday.

This second-round game against a Southern Conference heavyweight was all Maine, all afternoon.

The Kidd Brewer Stadium crowd of 15,291 saw the No. 13-ranked Black Bears bring their signature sledgehammer to the sideline before the game, and then deliver blow after blow between the first and final whistles.

“It means a lot to the program, our alumni and especially our players,” Smith said of the win. “Coming off a 4-7 season last year, we knew we had a lot to fix but we knew there was a lot out there for us. The overall togetherness of this football team is so great.”

It was evident throughout, particularly when Coach Jack Cosgrove decided the fourth-and-1 at the Appalachian State 32 was the time to go for it.

“We figured we had to get it to keep the game going,” Howley said. “We made the calls up front and clogged it up.”

UMaine ran to the right behind Howley, tackle Steve Shea and tight end Justin Perillo.

One play later, Perillo, who devastated Appalachian State with catches underneath in the first half, came left in motion and Smith hooked up with John Ebeling on a backside post route for a 20-6 cushion.

“That was a key play and I thought we had him stopped,” Appalachian State Coach Jerry Moore said of fourth down. “He kept driving his feet and driving his feet, and he made it by 2 or 3 yards.”

Maine held the eighth-ranked Mountaineers to a three-and-out the next series, then got a 54-yard touchdown run by freshman David Hood on first down to extend the lead to 27-6.

When Maine forced another three-and-out, the Black Bears had achieved six on Appalachian State’s nine possessions and owned a 385-118 advantage in yardage, having driven for 124 in the third quarter alone.

“We had the bye week and had some extra time to prepare for them,” said Troy Russell, who led the Black Bears with nine tackles and a sack.

“We got a feel for them. Coach did a great job of calling the game and putting us in the right position.”

Appalachian State was limited to 3 rushing yards, 275 total yards, and was 0 of 7 on third-down conversions in the second half.

Heralded Appalachian State receiver Brian Quick had seven catches but was never a game-changing factor.

“We knew he was a great player and we would have to stop him to stop their offense,” Russell said.

Smith finished 17 of 26 for 250 yards with three touchdowns. Freshman Damarr Aultman had two TDs among his five catches for 117 yards, and Perillo and freshman Arthur Williams each had four catches.

Brown spun and darted for 111 yards on 24 carries, scoring the final touchdowns on a 31-yard jaunt with 9:30 to go.

“It’s a reward,” Smith said of the victory, “and we’re not satisfied yet. We won’t be satisfied until, you know, we all know what happens.”

Now the next stop for the Black Bears: Statesboro, Ga.