By David Rogers. September 22, 2018. BOONE, NC — It didn’t matter which members of Appalachian State’s plug n’ play roster were on the field. They almost all played — and they all produced in the Mountaineers’ dominating, 72-7 home opener in front of 21,084 at Kidd-Brewer Stadium.
COVER IMAGE: All photographic images by Brad Batchelor for Blowing Rock News.
Six Mountaineer quarterbacks took snaps in the game, but none were more productive than junior starter Zac Thomas (11-of-15, 185 yards and 1 TD passing) and redshirt freshman supersub QB, Peyton Derrick (7-0f-7, 68 yards, 1 TD). Both App State quarterbacks added rushing touchdowns.
Just like at QB, Appalachian’s rushing attack was by committee while rolling up 432 yards on the ground. Nine Mountaineers carried the ball for the home side, led by redshirt freshman D’Andre Hicks’ 150 yards on 11 carries (1 TD) and senior Jalin Moore’s 119 yards rushing on 8 carries(2 TDa). Other major contributors in the rushing attack included freshman Cameron Peoples (9 carries, 53 yards) sophomore Marcus Williams (7, 49 yards), and sophomore Darrynton Evans (4 rushes, 33 yards, 1 TD).
Appalachian State’s 692 yards of Total Offense ranks only behind a 115-0 win over Piedmont in 1936 and a 79-35 win over Western Carolina in 2007.
Gardner Webb won the coin toss to start the game, but even then made a wrong decision in putting any goal for establishing momentum in the hands of its defense. It took the Mountaineers just three plays to cover 75 yards, in exactly one minute. Then when GW’s Elijah Perry mishandled the kickoff return at his own goal line and eventually was brought down at the GWU 7-yard line, the Runnin’ Bulldogs were seeking cover.
Pushed back for a three-and-out bye Mountaineer defense and forced to punt from their own end zone, Appalachian’s Steven Jones recorded the first of two blocked punts on the night, this one he fell on for App State’s second TD with just over three minutes ticked off of the clock.
Led by redshirt freshman quarterback Jordan Smith, Gardner Webb’s offense responded with an 11-play, 75-yard TD-scoring drive, but that 7-point deficit was the closest the Runnin’ Bulldogs would get. Appalachian State’s defense kept the visitors’ FCS-level, Big South Conference contingent off the scoreboard for the duration. GW managed just 160 yards of total offense for the four quarters of play.
Appalachian opens Sun Belt Conference play next Saturday (Sept. 29) at home in Kidd-Brewer for Homecoming, vs. South Alabama. With three losses to Louisiana Tech (26-30), Oklahoma State (13-55) and Memphis (35-52) and a single win in a Sun Belt opener vs. Texas State (41-31), the Jaguars are unlikely to be favored coming into the unfriendly confines of Kidd-Brewer. App State has a nailbiter overtime loss to Penn State as well as a 45-9 win over Conference USA opponent Charlotte to go along with the Gardner Webb thumping on its resume. Its original home opener last weekend vs. Southern Miss was postponed, and now cancelled.
Next week’s kickoff at Kidd-Brewer is slated for 3:30 pm and will be broadcast on ESPN+.