By David Rogers. November 3, 2018. CONWAY, SC — With two sophomore running backs breaking the century mark and a stingy defense arguably putting on its best performance of the 2018 season so far, Appalachian State won a battle for field position in the first quarter to overcome turnovers — then ran away in the second half for a convincing, 23-7 win that really didn’t feel that close.
All photographic images by David Rogers for Blowing Rock News, dedicated to the memory of Doug Holstein: photographer, mentor and friend extraordinaire.
COVER IMAGE: Wide receiver Corey Sutton (2) hauls in a Jacob Huesman pass at the goal line for an Appalachian State TD.
Mountaineer running back Darrynton Evans carried the ball 27 times for 159 net yards gained while his backfield tandem partner Marcus Williams, Jr. toted the pigskin another 19 times for 103 yards. Both RBs scored a TD.
Sophomore quarterback Jacob Huesman earned the win on his first career start, completing nine of 19 passes for 127 yards and a TD, while being sacked twice.
Keys to the Game
- App State won the battle for field position, starting drives (in succession) from the APP42, CCU37, APP31, APP37, APP29, APP26, CCU46, APP32, CCU47, APP40, CCU44, APP24, APP28
- The Appalachian running game eventually wore down the Chanticleer defensive line. Evans, Williams, Jr., and Huesman all ripped off big second half runs.
- The Mountaineers defense limited Coastal Carolina to just 178 yards of total offense, 72 passing and 106 rushing.
As good as the Mountaineers’ offensive skill players performed, credit special teams for helping the High Country visitors enjoy outstanding field position to start many of their drives. On App State’s first possession, redshirt freshman punter Clayton Howell punted 49 yards where it was downed by the coverage team at the Coastal Carolina 2-yard line. The Mountaineers helped CCU out of the hole with a rare defensive delay of game penalty, but the Chanticleers could make nothing of it, going three-and-out. App State sophomore wide receiver Thomas Hennigan returned the Coastal punt 20 yards, allowing the next Mountaineer possession to begin from the Coastal Carolina 37-yard line.
App State made short work of the short field, Evans weaving his way around the left side for a 26-yard TD run that gave ASU an early 7-0 lead.
Had it not been for a fluke play midway through the first quarter, there is a good chance that Coastal Carolina would not have scored in this game at all. A Huesman pass bounced off the helmet of Williams, into the waiting arms of defensive back Derambez Drinkard at the CCU 40-yard line. The sophomore cornerback from Blythewood, SC returned the INT 60 yards untounched for a “pick 6” and what turned out to be the Chanticleers’ only points of the game.
Howell wasn’t the only skillful Mountaineer punter on this day. Perhaps considered a short yardage specialist when it comes to punting, sophomore Xavier Subotsch and the coverage unit combined for yet another field position victory, a 36-yard punt downed at the CCU 1-yard line. On the very next play, the Mountaineers’ junior safety Josh Thomas stepped in front of a pass by the Chanticleers’ QB, freshman Fred Payton, at the CCU47 to give Appalachian another short field. The Mountaineers failed to capitalize, but a Subotsch punt put Coastal Carolina in a hole again after Ky’Jon Tyler called for a fair catch at his own 9-yard line.
All totaled, App State punters pinned the Chanticleer offense back five times inside their own 10-yard line, three times at the 1-, once at the 2- and once at the 9-yard line.
Mountaineer head coach Scott Satterfield told reporters later that there are a lot of very successful quarterbacks who didn’t start their college careers 1-0, which he pointed out to Huesman. “That’s something he will remember for the rest of his life,” Satterfield smiled.
The App State win, combined with Louisiana-Monroe’s 44-25 win over Georgia Southern strengthens the Mountaineers potential claim to the Sun Belt East Division crown and a berth in the first Sun Belt championship game. Troy (5-0 Sun Belt, 7-2 overall) beating Louisiana-Lafayette (26-16) leaves the Trojans as the only unbeaten team in the East and in the entire Sun Belt Conference. Georgia Southern (4-1, 7-2) and the Mountaineers (4-1, 6-2) are tied for second in the East. Troy plays at Georgia Southern next weekend (Nov. 10) and at Appalachian the last regular season game (Nov. 24).
Appalachian State’s win on Saturday in Conway is also another important milestone: the fourth straight season that the Mountaineers are bowl-eligible. Before taking on Troy to finish the regular season, the Mountaineers travel to Texas State (1-4, 3-6) on Nov. 10 to take on the Bobcats who are on a 2-game winning streak. Then they will return to the friendly confines of Kidd-Brewer Stadium to host Georgia State (1-4, 2-7).