Mountaineers rumble, Ragin’ Cajuns crumble…
By Tim Gardner
Things were rocking at The Rock Saturday.
Behind record-setting performances, Appalachian State clinched a share of a second straight Sun Belt Conference championship by ripping Louisiana-Lafayette 63-14 on Senior Day at Kidd Brewer Stadium.
The Mountaineers (8-4 over-all, 7-1 conference) will share the title with the winner of the Arkansas State-Troy game to be played in Jonesboro, Arkansas on Saturday night.
After the game, with fans flooding the field, Sun Belt deputy commissioner Kathy Keene delivered a championship trophy to head coach Scott Satterfield, who handed the hardware off to his seniors.
“This senior class has been the force behind everything in this transition to the FBS (Football Bowl Subdivision), and it is really fitting for them to finish their careers here at Kidd Brewer Stadium with a Sun Belt championship,” Satterfield said. “I am really proud of the way they came out and played. The last month our preparation has been the best it’s been all year. The last three games we played, it’s the best football we’ve played and the most complete games.”
Freshman wide receiver Thomas Hennigan tied a school record by catching four touchdown passes from senior quarterback Taylor Lamb, Appalachian State’s run game accounted for 357 of the team’s 608 total yards and the defense helped the Mountaineers build a colossal lead after the Ragin’ Cajuns (5-7 over-all, 4-4 conference) scored a touchdown in the opening minute.
Lamb’s four touchdown passes were part of a home finale in which he completed 17 of 22 passes for 242 yards and rushed for 87 yards with one touchdown on five attempts.
Hennigan finished with 99 receiving yards on five catches, junior running back Jalin Moore added two touchdowns while rushing for 110 yards and another true freshman, Daetrich Harrington, reached the end zone once while rushing for a career-high 118 yards. The Mountaineers set a program record for points in a Sun Belt contest when Curtis Fitch, a junior walk-on quarterback making his second career appearance in his final home game, scored on a keeper late in the fourth quarter.
Senior linebacker Eric Boggs had nine tackles, one sack and one interception to lead Appalachian State’s defense, which forced three turnovers. Sophomore defensive back Clifton Duck recorded his fifth interception of the season, and senior outside linebacker Rashaad Townes’ fourth forced fumble of the season led to sophomore defensive back Desmond Franklin’s 28-yard return that set up the tiebreaking touchdown late in the first quarter.
Appalachian State’s bowl destination will be announced Sunday.
Jordan Davis ran for 47 yards on a quarterback draw the first play from scrimmage to set up the game’s first points. Two plays later, wide receiver Devin Scott caught a 28-yard touchdown pass from Davis just fifty seconds into the game (14:10). Stevie Artigue kicked the extra point to put the Ragin’ Cajuns up 7-0.
But Appalachian State answered by amazingly scoring the game’s next 56 points.
Lamb ran for a 29-yard touchdown to cap a 4-play; 84-yards drive with 7:39 left in the first quarter. Chandler Staton booted the extra point to tie the score at 7. Then Moore ran for a 3-yard touchdown with 2:14 remaining in the opening period. Staton added the conversion kick to give the Mountaineers a 14-7 lead.
Then, scoring-wise, it was the Lamb- Hennigan show as the duo combined for the game’s next four touchdowns to help Appalachian State to a 42-7 cushion.
With 11:51 left in the second quarter, Hennigan caught a touchdown pass from 9 yards out from Lamb to cap a 78-yard drive that took eight plays. Staton added the PAT for a 21-7 Appalachian State lead. Then with 1:20 remaining in the first half, Lamb tossed a 33-yard touchdown pass to Hennigan. Staton provided the PAT and the Mountaineers held a 28-7 cushion.
And Lamb hit Hennigan from 12 yards out for a touchdown with only three second left in the half. Staton nailed the point-after for the 35-7 score.
Hennigan’s next scoring reception from Lamb came on a 42-yard strike at the 11:17 mark of the third period. The drive covered 79 yards and took eight plays. Staton again made the conversion kick.
The Mountaineers continued piling on points. Moore scored on a 6-yard touchdown run with 3:02 remaining in the third quarter to cap an 8-plays; 88 yard drive. Staton followed with his seventh point-after kick to push the lead to 49-7.
Then with 13:48 remaining, Harrington ran up the middle for a 15-yard touchdown. Staton booted another PAT and Appalachian State’s cushion was 56-7.
The touchdown drive covered 63 yards in four plays.
Less than two minutes later (11:05), Louisiana-Lafayette finally scored again. The Ragin’ Cajuns drove 74 yards in six plays with Levi Lewis running for a 14-yard touchdown. Artigue added the conversion kick to make the score, 56-14.
Fitch scored his touchdown for Appalachian State on a 2-yard run with 3:01 left to cap a 13-plays; 65-yard drive. Mister-Consistency-Kicker Staton booted his ninth point-after of the game for the whopping 63-14 tally. Staton is perfect on conversion kicks this season, nailing 27-for-27.