By Tim Gardner
Number 21-ranked Appalachian State eased past South Alabama 30-3 in a Sun Belt Conference game Saturday at rain-soaked Ladd-Peebles Stadium in Mobile, AL, to keep its perfect record intact.
And the victory also keeps the Mountaineers alone atop the league standings. They are 7-0 over-all and 4-0 in league action.
South Alabama fell to 1-7 over-all and 0-4 in conference play with the loss.
A dominant defense keyed the win. Late in the third quarter, while holding a 23-0 lead, Appalachian State’s defense had allowed just 43 yards on 32 plays from South Alabama. At that juncture of the game, South Alabama had not run a play beyond midfield.
Two Mountaineer defensive lineman were instrumental in the win. Elijah Diarrassouba recovered a fumble and lineman Demetrius Taylor blocked a field goal to give him two this season and the Mountaineers a major-college leading five. Additionally, their defense recorded three sacks as they limited the Jaguars to 139 yards of total offense for the game.
Appalachian State recorded 11 three-and-outs on defense, but 10 times in the first 11 chances and 13 times over-all, the Mountaineers needed three plays or less to force a punting situation or turnover once South Alabama’s offense took the field. A roughing-the-punter penalty officially wiped out one three-and-out stand, but the Jaguars had to punt again three plays later.
True freshman running back Raykwon Anderson rushed for 99 yards and a touchdown on only four carries and Marcus Williams, Jr. added 94 yards and a touchdown on eleven carries to lead the Mountaineers’ offense, which finished with 481 yards.
Wide receiver Thomas Hennigan caught a 19-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Zac Thomas and Chandler Staton followed with the extra point kick to put the Mountaineers up 7-0 with 7:06 remaining in the opening quarter.
Staton added a pair of field goals in the second period to boost the Mountaineers to a 13-0 halftime lead. The first was from 19 yards at the 12:15 mark and the next from 34 yards at the 1:09 mark.
Williams, Jr. made his touchdown run from 3 yards with 8:03 left in the third period. Staton added the PAT for a 20-0 Appalachian State cushion.
Staton kicked another field goal–this one from 46 yards–with 3:45 remaining in the period to give the Mountaineers a 23-0 lead.
Frankie Onate then kicked a 37-yard field goal with 5:43 to play to make the score 23-3 and keep the Jaguars from being shutout.
Just 1:05 later (4:48), Anderson rushed to the left for a 67-yard touchdown. Staton made the PAT to provide the final score.
Appalachian State hosts long-time rival and fellow-Sun Belt member, Georgia Southern, Thursday night, Oct. 31, in Kidd Brewer Stadium in Boone. The game will start at 8:00 p.m. and will be nationally broadcast on ESPNU.