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Apps Roar Past Georgia State in Sun Belt Conference Opener, 45-16

Photo by Bret Strelow

By Tim Gardner

Relentless pressure by Appalachian States defense that featured continuous pushes from the inside and horrid pressure from the outside  keyed a 45-16 rout by the Mountaineers at Georgia State on Saturday at Atlanta’s Center Parc Stadium. It was the Sun Belt Conference opener for both teams as Appalachian State improved its overall-record to 5-1 and kept its perfect record against the Panthers intact. The Mountaineers are 8-0 all-time versus Georgia State.

Appalachian State’s defense recorded four sacks, 10 tackles for loss, intercepted two passes and held Georgia State to only three of 15 third-down conversions. 

Twenty-four Mountaineer defenders made tackles.  Linebacker D’Marco Jackson led the effort with nine tackles (6 solos; 3 assists).  He had one sack, two tackles for loss, one interception, one pass break-up and one quarterback hurry.

The Mountaineers stop force also limited Georgia State’s running game to 134 yards, with Marcus Carroll (46 yards) and Jamyest Williams (41 yards) finishing as the Panthers top ground gainers.

The Appalachian State defensive pressure started early and never let up. Georgia State (2-4) turned the ball over on the second play of the game from scrimmage when Shaun Jolly outwrestled Sam Pinckney for an interception. The Mountaineers then drove 59 yards for a touchdown, with Nate Noel running the ball into the endzone from 23 yards. Chandler Staton kicked the extra point for a 7-0 lead.

With Camerun Peoples sidelined, Noel led Appalachian State with 74 rushing yards on 12 carries. But the Mountaineers only used Castle, Jahmir Smith and Gabe Montgomery to carry the ball out of the backfield in the second half. Castle added 56 yards on 12 carries, and Smith had 30 yards on seven carries in his most playing action since transferring from Notre Dame.

The game was competitive until the third quarter. Appalachian State led 14-6 at halftime, but went on a 31-7 scoring run in the second half.

Georgia State took its first possession of the second half all the way to the Mountaineers 5-yard line. Instead of gambling on fourth down, the Panthers opted to kick a field goal, and Noel Ruiz nailed it from 23 yards to cut the margin to 14-9 with 8:22 left in the period.

That’s when the Mountaineers struck with its biggest offensive blow. On their first play from scrimmage, quarterback Chase Brice dropped back and threw a perfect pass to wide receiver Corey Sutton, who had already got past Georgia State cornerback Bryquice Brown, and Sutton dashed into the endzone for a 79-yard touchdown. Staton kicked the extra point for a 21-9 Mountaineers lead.

Appalachian State didn’t wait long to score again. The Mountaineers put pressure on Georgia State quarterback Quad Brown, and his underthrown pass was intercepted by Tim Frizzell. Several plays later, Staton booted a 48-yard field goal that increased Appalachian State’s lead to 24-9.

The Mountaineers pushed their cushion to 31-9 on a 10-play drive capped by Miller Gibbs’ 5-yard reception from Brice, followed by Staton’s conversion kick. Appalachian Stats’s next touchdown came on an 80-yard pass from Brice to Christian Wells. Staton added the point-after conversion kick for a 38-9 lead. Anderson Castle then made a 22-yard run touchdown run for the Mountaineers three plays after the Panthers turned it over on downs. Staton’s PAT provided the final point of the rout.

Brice had a stellar game passing the ball, finishing 20-of-28 for 326 yards and three touchdowns. He completed passes to eight different receivers.

Georgia State started Darren Grainger at quarterback, and after two possessions, inserted Quad Brown, before turning back to Grainger in the final period. Brown completed 16-of-31 passes for 171 yards, but had two interceptions. Grainger was 4-for-6 for 75 yards, with one touchdown and one interception. Grainger threw a 66-yard touchdown pass to Tailique Williams with 3:44 left.

On his second possession under center, Brown took the Panthers to the 5-yard line. But they had to settle for a 25-yard field goal from Ruiz.

Brice then directed an 87-yard scoring drive to put the Mountaineers ahead 14-3. He converted three third-down conversions with passes and capped the drive with a 33-yard touchdown pass to Malik Williams. Staton added the point-after kick.

Ruiz kicked a 33-yard field goal to cut Georgia State’s to its halftime deficit.

Complete game statistics can be accessed by logging onto: https://appstatesports.com/documents/2021/10/2/APP05.PDF

Appalachian State will next play at Louisiana-LaFayette on Tuesday, October 12 in another Sun Belt clash.  The game will kick off at 7:30 p.m. and will be broadcast nationally on ESPN2.

Explosive Second Half Carries App State to Win in Sun Belt Opener

From App State Sports News

Shaun Jolly coming up with a timely interception. Corey Sutton finding the end zone. App State going on a big run.

Just like in 2019, the Mountaineers put on quite a show in a road win at Georgia State.

Jolly’s tone-setting interception just two plays into the Sun Belt Conference opener was one of three picks for App State in a 45-16 victory, and Chase Brice threw three touchdown passes while completing 20 passes for a whopping 326 yards.

Sutton’s four catches for 106 yards included a 79-yard score for App State (4-1, 1-0) moments after the Panthers (1-4, 0-1) pulled within 14-9 midway through the third quarter, starting a run of 31 straight points in roughly 12 minutes to increase the margin to 45-9, with three field goals accounting for all of Georgia State’s scoring to that point.

“The first half we didn’t play really good, so we had to come out and regroup in the second half,” App State head coach Shawn Clark said. “A lot of credit goes to our kids. Our defense had ‘Havoc’ plays and got turnovers. Our offense capitalized on them.”

Two years ago, with App State going on a 49-0 run in a 56-27 win in Atlanta, Jolly scored a touchdown on one of his two interceptions and Sutton scored three times during an eight-catch, 173-yard performance.

Jacob Huesman’s 5-yard TD pass to Miller Gibbs, Christian Wells’ 80-yard touchdown following a short throw from Brice and Anderson Castle’s 22-yard touchdown run all came in an explosive four-minute stretch that broke Saturday’s game wide open.

Malik Williams also caught a touchdown pass from Brice, scoring from 33 yards out in the second quarter, and Nate Noel’s early 23-yard touchdown run capped the drive that followed Jolly’s interception.

Tim Frizzell added his first career interception with help from a Brendan Harrington pressure, and D’Marco Jackson intercepted a pass that was tipped by Steven Jones Jr. Demetrius Taylor accounted for two of App State’s four sacks, with Jackson and Nick Hampton recording one apiece, and Jackson led the Mountaineers with nine tackles.

App State’s defense also benefited from the return of safety Kaiden Smith, who started the Sun Belt opener in his home state despite suffering an Achilles tendon tear less than six months ago, and close friend Thomas Hennigan set a program record by making the 56th start of his career. The old record of 55 belonged to Jerome Touchstone, a title-winning cornerback from 2004-07, during App State’s FCS three-peat.

With Camerun Peoples sidelined, Noel led App State with 74 rushing yards on 12 carries, but the Mountaineers only used Castle, Jahmir Smith and Gabe Montgomery to carry the ball out of the backfield after halftime. Castle totaled 56 yards on 12 carries, and Smith had 30 yards on seven carries in his most action since arriving from Notre Dame.