By David Rogers. November 23, 2019. BOONE, NC — It wasn’t the “prettiest” Senior Day football game ever played at Kidd-Brewer Stadium, but it was historic.
COVER IMAGE: App State QB Zac Thomas spots wide receiver Corey Sutton downfield. All photographic images by Brad Batchelor for Blowing Rock News.
With a 35-13 win over Texas State and Georgia Southern’s loss to Arkansas State a short while later on Saturday, for the second year in a row Appalachian State (6-1 in Sun Belt, 10-1 overall) clinches the Sun Belt Conference East Division title and a berth in the conference championship game. If they win next week at Troy to finish the regular season, the Mountaineers are (seemingly) also guaranteed the right to host the Sun Belt Championship Game for the second year in a row at The Rock.
Under drizzly, chilly conditions, the visiting Bobcats battled App State pretty evenly in the first half. Midway through the first quarter, wide receiver Corey Sutton gathered in a perfectly thrown Zac Thomas aerial to give the Mountaineers a tenuous, 7-0 lead.
Texas State narrowed the deficit early in the second quarter with Joshua Rowland’s 48-yard field goal, but a short while later App State’s graduate transfer WR Keishawn Watson made an acrobatic catch of another Thomas pass into the end zone. It looked like the Mountaineers would take a 14-3 lead into intermission, but the Bobcats’ sophomore QB, Tyler Vitt, found wide receiver Javen Banks in the back of the end zone for a 53-yard TD with just three seconds remaining before intermission, narrowing the deficit to just four points, 14-10 as the teams retired to their respective locker rooms.
Appalachian’s featured running back, Darrynton Evans was bottled up by the Bobcat defense for most of the first quarter, but TXST stacking the box to stop the run created opportunities for the Mountaineers through the air. All of App State’s “chunk plays” in the passing department occurred in the first half, including 28 yards from Thomas to Malik Williams, the aforementioned 45-yard TD pass to Sutton, a 60-yard pass-catch-run to Thomas Hennigan, and the 19-yard TD pass to Watson.
Thomas finished the game having completed 8-of-16 passes for 174 yards and the two TDs, with no interceptions.
Evans began to break loose from the second quarter on. For the full game, he recorded his fourth 100-yard-plus rushing performance of the season, carrying the ball 21 times for 154 yards and three touchdowns. All of the TDs were from 10 yards out or further and all occurred in the second half.
Defensively, after Rowland kicked his second 48-yard field goal early in the third quarter, the Mountaineers held Texas State scoreless for the remainder of the game.
If there was an energizing play in the game to help the Mountaineers establish some momentum, it occurred on defense midway through the third period. Defensive lineman E J Scott appeared to tip a Vitt pass at the line of scrimmage and it came down in the arms of outside linebacker Noel Cook. The play came after Rowland’s second 48-yard FG to bring the Bobcats to within just one point, 14-13. On the ensuing App State possession, Texas State forced the Mountaineers to a three-and-out. Cook’s INT came on TXST’s first play of the next offensive series. Four plays and 29 yards later, the Mountaineers scored on a 13-yard rush by Evans and would never look back.
Sun Belt Conference results on Saturday:
- Appalachian State 35, Texas State 13
- Georgia State 28, South Alabama 15
- Arkansas State 38, Georgia Southern 33
- Louisiana-Monroe 45, Coastal Carolina 42
- Louisiana 53, Troy 3
SELECTED TEAM STATS
- Net Total Offense — APP 468, TXST 208
- Rushing Yards — APP 280, TXST 54
- Passing Yards — APP 188, TXST 154
- Penalties — APP 5-40, TXST 9-76
- Fumbles-Lost — APP 1-1, TXST 1-0
- Interceptions Thrown — APP 0, TXST 1
- Time of Possession — APP 33:05, TXST 26:47
- Sacks By — APP 3, TXST 0
- 3rd Down Conversions — APP 6-14 (43%), TXST 4-15 (27%)
- 4th Down Conversions — APP 0-1 (0%), TXST 1-2 (50%)
SELECTED INDIVIDUAL STATS
- APP — Zac Thomas 8-16, 154 yards, 2 TDs, 0 INTs, 182.6 RTG
- TXST — Tyler Vitt 18-34, 154 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT, 94.8 RTG
- APP — Darrynton Evans: 21 carries, 154 yards, 3 TDs
- APP — Marcus Williams, Jr.: 15 carries, 78 yards
- TXST — Robert Brown, Jr.: 8 carries, 35 yards
- APP — Zac Thomas: 6 carries, 28 yards
- APP — Raykwon Anderson: 7 carries, 20 yards
- TXST — Caleb Twyford: 6 carries, 20 yards
- TXST — Tyler Vitt: 8 carries, 15 yards
- TXST — Javen Banks: 6 catches, 82 yards, 1 TD
- APP — Thomas Hennigan: 2 catches, 70 yards
- APP — Corey Sutton: 2 catches, 45 yards, 1 TD
- TXST — Mason Hays: 3 catches, 31 yards
- APP — Malik Williams: 1 catch, 28 yards
- APP — Jalen Virgil: 3 catches, 26 yards
- TXST — Jeremiah Haydel: 5 catches, 25 yards
- TXST — Hutch White: 2 catches, 21 yards
- APP — Keishawn Watson: 1 catch, 19 yards, 1 TD