By Tim Gardner
Appalachian State scored in every quarter and racked up 480 yards of offense to key a 31-13 Sun Belt Conference victory over Louisiana-Monroe Saturday afternoon at Malone Stadium in Monroe, Louisiana.
The Mountaineers (4-1, 2-0 SBC) were a 29½ point favorite at kickoff and their average margin of victory in four wins over Louisiana-Monroe is 27 points.
The Warhawks (0-7, 0-4 SBC) are off to their worst start in a season ever.
Louisiana-Monroe’s Josh Newton intercepted Appalachian State quarterback Zac Thomas’ first pass attempt. But the Mountaineers responded in a most positive fashion, scoring touchdowns on four of their next five possessions.
Thomas completed 13-of-18 passes for 152 yards and two touchdowns. His career-high 109 yards on eleven carries led Appalachian State’s 328-yard rushing effort.
Appalachian State opened the scoring when Camerun Peoples capped an 11-play;89-yard drive with a 1-yard touchdown run with 5:12 left in the first period. Chandler Staton converted the point-after kick for a 7-0 lead.
Louisiana-Monroe went three-and-out on its ensuing possession. Then almost two minutes later (3:11), the Mountaineers increased their lead when Marcus Williams, Jr. sprinted up the middle, cut right, broke a tackle and dashed 48 yards for a touchdown. Staton tacked on the point-after kick for a 14-0 margin.
Williams, Jr. was the most productive of the Appalachian State running backs with 13 carries for 103 yards.
Louisiana-Monroe cut the deficit to 14-7 with 9:30 remaining in the second quarter when Perry Carter made a 2-yard touchdown on a speed sweep and Davis Hughes added the point-after.
That scoring drive covered 76 yards and took 17 plays.
The Warhawks converted twice on third down and once on fourth down during the drive.
Colby Suits and Jeremy Hunt split time at quarterback for Louisiana-Monroe. Suits finished 18-of-29 for 119 yards, with one touchdown and an interception. Hunt was 3-of-9 for 20 yards with two interceptions.
Christian Wells caught a 37-yard score from Thomas on a flea flicker in the second quarter (5:24), followed by Staton’s PAT to push the score to 21-7.
Appalachian State increased its cushion to 28-7 a little more than two minutes (12:46) into the second half when Thomas hit a wide-open Malik Williams for a 35-yard touchdown and Staton added the conversion kick.
Suits threw into double coverage and was intercepted by Appalachian State’s Kaiden Smith on the Warhawks next series.
Smith had 6 tackles (5 solos; 1 assist) and Nicholas Ross added another six tackles (all solos) to lead Appalachian State’s defense, which held the Warhawks to 222 yards. 74 of those came on their final possession.
Staton booted a 38-yard field goal with 13:13 to play to make Appalachian State’s lead 31-7.
Suits then threw a 15-yard touchdown to Malik Jackson on the final play of the game to slice the scoring margin to its ultimate tally.
The Mountaineers travel to Texas State in San Marcos, TX next Saturday (Nov. 7) to play their next game. Kickoff is set for 3:00 p.m. (Eastern Standard Time).