GASTONIA, N.C. (QUEEN CITY NEWS) – Three students at Appalachian State got free tuition for a year after creating the best posters in the GameDay poster contest.

University officials pledged to gift one student a year of free tuition to celebrate ESPN College GameDay coming to town for the first time in program history.

Zackary Carr of Gastonia was selected as one of the winners. He’s a freshman student studying cybersecurity.

“I didn’t really know what to think,” Zackary said. “Right before we got on stage, they told us there’s 2.5 million people watching. I knew I had to do something crazy, and so I did.”

Carr designed a sign inspired by the fee Texas A&M paid to App State for what’s called a guarantee game on the road.

“Me and my family and then a few app alums, we were brainstorming ideas. I knew I had to do something with the money that they paid us to beat them,” Zackary said. “Then the sign itself, the poster, one of our family, friends has a poster business. So he printed that out on the poster.”

Zackary’s brother Carson is a junior at App State, and his parents, Chris and Dawn, are alumni.

“We’re both from Gastonia; ironically enough, did not know each other. We went to App State in 1991-1992. We were 18-19 years old way back then,” Chris Carr said. “We got engaged on campus at Sanford Mall. We’re literally right where gameday was we got engaged right there.”

The first-time college game day at App State ended in a nail-biter when the Mountaineers beat the Troy Trojans. App State was down with seconds left in the game when the quarterback launched a hail mary to seal the deal and take home the win. That play has since been dubbed “The Miracle on the Mountain.”

For the Carr family, Zackary was already their miracle.

“I’m a three-time cancer survivor, and I had colon cancer when I was pregnant,” Dawn Carr said. “So in my surgery, he was literally removed from my stomach while they did the surgery to remove the cancer, and they put him back in. So, he’s a miracle baby, and he got to experience the miracle on the mountain.”

The Carr family continues to celebrate all the miracles in their lives.

They are season ticket holders and are excited to keep soaking up the success of their alma mater.

“It’s just; it’s a huge relief because, as you said, we have two students there. And as we know, the cost of college is not cheap. So just anything we could get,” Chris Carr said.