By David Rogers. September 28, 2019. BOONE, NC — Even though there was a more than two-hour weather delay at “The Rock” on Saturday, where 25,055 had gathered to watch Appalachian State’s open 2019 Sun Belt Conference play vs. Coastal Carolina, lightning didn’t actually strike inside Kidd-Brewer Stadium. Then again, maybe it did.
COVER IMAGE: App State wide receiver Malik Williams (14) high steps it to the first down, leading to a Mountaineer score. Photographic image by David Rogers for Blowing Rock News
Not to take anything away from Appalachian State’s 7-headed offensive juggernaut nor a credible defensive effort, but the difference-maker in Saturday’s 56-37 victory over the Chanticleers was the Mountaineers’ special teams play.
App State placekick specialist Chandler Staton only gave the Chanticleers one opportunity to return a kickoff with eight other booming boots into or beyond the end zone for touchbacks. On the one return, the Mountaineers’ well-executed kickoff coverage resulted in a four-yard loss for the visitors from Conway, SC.
By contrast, the Mountaineers returned five Coastal Carolina kickoffs for a total of 149 yards — just shy of a 30-yard average — giving the Zac Thomas-led APP offense unusually good field position to start their drives.
And Thomas & Co. took advantage. With 430 yards of total offense (184 net rushing and 246 passing), Appalachian State’s junior QB, Thomas, spread the ball around to six different receivers and four rushers (including himself).
App State freshman cornerback Shaun Jolly steps in front of a Coastal Carolina pass (top pic) early in the 4th quarter and returned the interception 24 yards for a TD (bottom pic) to give the Mountaineers a 49-30 lead with 11:59 left in the game. Photographic images by David Rogers for Blowing Rock News
At one point midway in this game, Thomas completed seven consecutive passes for 116 yards, a stretch that included a 55-yard catch-and-run by junior wide receiver Thomas Hennigan and a 15-yard TD pass to yet another junior WR, Corey Sutton, as well as five first downs.
Thomas completed five passes that covered 15 yards or more, those “chunk plays” representing 172 of the home team’s 246 yards through the air, to extend Mountaineer possessions.
App State’s Darrynton Evans was limited to just 60 yards rushing and -2 yards receiving on the day as Coastal Carolina stacked the box against the Mountaineers, but the junior running back tallied a game-high 190 all-purpose yards with 132 on kickoff returns, including a longest of 43 yards late in the third quarter with App State already leading, 42-24.
Sophomore running back Daetrich Harrington was the Mountaineers’ leading rusher, carrying the ball 11 times for 71 yards and a TD, including a longest of 22. Marcus Williams, Jr. added 43 yards on eight carries and two touchdowns.
In the passing game, Thomas scattered 12 passes among just four receivers. Hennigan collected a game-high 89 yards on five catches, Corey Sutton caught another five passes for 76 yards and a TD, and Malik Williams pulled in six Thomas aerials for 75 yards. Tight end Collin Reed tucked in just one pass for 11 yards, but it was a big one for the Mountaineers’ go-ahead TD in the first quarter.
The Mountaineers’ special teams play frequently gave the regular tenants of Kidd-Brewer Stadium great field position to start offensive possessions. But the Appalachian offense’s ability to extend drives and convert scoring opportunities and the defense’s coming up with timely plays to stall or terminate Chanticleer drives were important factors, too. Each team had a pass interception and neither team recovered a fumble (for turnovers), but the Mountaineer defense forced two fumbles to quelch Coastal Carolina attempts to catch up.
App State (4-0 overall, 1-0 Sun Belt) has a bye next Saturday going into a rare Wednesday night game, October 9th, on the road against Louisiana in Lafayette, LA. They return to Kidd-Brewer on October 19 to host Louisiana-Monroe before going back on the road to Mobile, AL to challenge South Alabama. All three are Sun Belt Conference matchups.
Coastal Carolina (3-2 overall, 0-1 Sun Belt) has a bye next week, then will host Georgia State on October 12th, then go on the road to Georgia Southern on October 19th.
Blowing Rock Newshound Players of the Game
- Offense: Corey Sutton, Thomas Hennigan
- Defense: Akeem Davis-Gaither, Shaun Jolly
- Special Teams: Darrynton Evans
SELECTED TEAM STATS
- Total Yards — APP 430, CC 393
- Pass Yards — APP 246, CC 240
- Rush Yards — APP 184, CC 153
- Penalties — APP 7-74, CC 10-75
- Sacks — APP 2, CC 1
- Tackles for Loss — APP 4, CC 6
- Turnovers — APP 1, CC 1
- Time of Possession — APP 28:09, CC 31:51
- 3rd Down Conversions — APP 7/12 (58%), CC 5/13 (39%)
SELECTED INDIVIDUAL STATS
- CC — CJ Marable 15-95, 1 TD
- APP — Daetrich Harrington 11-71, 1 TD
- APP — Darrynton Evans 15-60, 2 TDs
- APP — Marcus Williams, Jr. 8-43, 2 TDs
- APP — Zac Thomas 19-23-246, 2 TDs, 1 INT
- CC — Fred Payton 20-31-240, 2 TDs, 1 INT
- APP — Thomas Hennigan 5-89
- CC — Javion Heiligh 6-85
- APP — Corey Sutton 5-76, 1 TD
- APP — Malik Williams 6-75
- CC — Jeremiah Miller 3-36, 1 TD
- CC — Isaiah Likely 3-35, 1 TD
- APP — Collin Reed 1-11, 1 TD