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Apps Roll to Sun Belt East Division Title with Dominating 21-10 Win Over Troy; Will Face Louisiana-Lafayette Next Saturday for Conference Crown in Boone at High Noon

By Tim Gardner

The Appalachian State Mountaineers proved that all the pre-game hype about a colossal battle of evenly matched teams in Saturday’s showdown against Troy was without substance.

Appalachian State (9-2 over-all; 7-1 conference) thoroughly dominated Troy, 21-10, in a game not as close as the score may indicate to claim the Sun Belt Conference’s East Division title. The win at Boone’s Kidd Brewer Stadium gave the Mountaineers the right to host the league’s inaugural championship game next Saturday, Dec. 1 at 12:00 noon. They will face the West Division winner, Louisiana-Lafayette.

It will be the second time the teams have played this season. Appalachian State beat the Ragin’ Cajuns, 27-17, on Oct. 20 in Boone.

The winner of the championship game will play in the New Orleans Bowl on Dec. 15. The Mountaineers won shares of the last two conference titles and now have the chance to win the championship outright next week.

“To be able to host the first Sun Belt Championship game, what an honor,” said Appalachian State head coach Scott Satterfield, who improved to 50-24 as the Mountaineers’ head coach. “We’ve done a lot of firsts here at Appalachian State in our program, and now we’re adding to them.”

Appalachian State’s win ended a 13-game conference winning streak for Troy, which had won 11 of its last 12 conference road games. The Trojans concluded the regular season at 9-3 over-all and 7-1 in conference play.

The Mountaineers held Troy to season lows in points (10, compared to the previous low of 12 against Texas State) and rushing yards (62, compared to the previous low of 110 versus Louisiana-Lafayette).

Appalachian State also ripped off 201 rushing yards, which were a new season high against Troy’s defense, topping the previous high of 200 by Louisiana-Monroe. Darrynton Evans had 108 rushing yards, and Marcus Williams Jr. added 58 for the Mountaineers.

Appalachian State’s game with Troy featured an improbable five first-half official reviews. Four of those reviews overturned the original calls, and all of the decisions went for the Mountaineers.

Appalachian State quarterback Zac Thomas connected with wide receiver Corey Sutton from 16 yards out on a crossing route and Sutton raced to the front left pylon of the end zone for a touchdown with 5:50 left in the opening quarter. The review concluded he did in fact score. Chandler Staton added the conversion kick to make the score 7-0.

The Mountaineers then faced a second-and-10 on the Troy 15 early in the next period. Sutton again caught a pass from Thomas that was first called incomplete in the back of the end zone. But the review showed that Sutton got the front of his left foot down for the touchdown.

Staton added the point-after to give Appalachian State a 14-0 lead at the 13:42 mark of the second period.

Sutton’s second touchdown was set up by Appalachian State defensive lineman Caleb Spurlin who forced and recovered a fumble on his team’s sideline.

Troy turned the ball back over to the Mountaineers on its first play from scrimmage on its next possession. Appalachian State safety Austin Exford knocked the ball loose after a 10-yard reception by Troy’s Deondre Douglas. And Appalachian State linebacker Anthony Flory recovered the ball.

Thomas then scored on a 10-yard touchdown run with 11:09 remaining in the quarter. Staton converted the extra-point kick as the Mountaineers increased their cushion to 21-0.

Tyler Sumpter kicked a 26-yard field goal with 7:51 left before intermission to give the Trojans their first points and cut the deficit to 21-3.

They scored their last points when Douglas hauled in a 21-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Sawyer Smith and Sumpter followed with the conversion kick with 9:21 to go in the third period. Those points provided the final score.

Sumpter (46 yards) and Staton (35 yards) also missed field goals.

Thomas was 12-of-24 passing for 113 yards and two touchdowns.

It marked the 21st consecutive year that Appalachian State won on Senior Day at Kidd Brewer Stadium. After a 25-19 home loss to Liberty in the 1997 finale, Appalachian State won its last 16 Senior Day games as a Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) program, with six of them coming versus Western Carolina. The Mountaineers have won major level Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) home finales against Idaho (2014), Louisiana (2015, 2017), Louisiana-Monroe (2016) and Troy (2018).

Junior cornerback Clifton Duck moved into the top 10 on App State’s career interceptions list when he picked off a pass for the 12th time of his career. Heading into Saturday, three active FBS players had 12 career interceptions, and the active leader was Florida Atlantic’s Jalen Young with 13. Duck is now tied with Mark Mayo (1988-91), Struggy Smith (1982-85) and David Neeld (1967-70) for eighth place in Appalachian State history, and Corey Hall (1997-2000) is seventh with 13 interceptions.

Akeem Davis-Gaither had 14 tackles, marking his third game this season with at least 14. He also had 14 at Arkansas State and 15 against Louisiana-Lafayette.

Sophomore defensive end Elijah Diarrassouba recorded his first career sack on the first official play of the game.

Another sophomore defensive end, Demetrius Taylor, recorded a sack, giving him 5.5 in 23 career games.

Troy running back B.J. Smith, who has gone over the 1,000-yard mark this season, was held to just 53 yards rushing on 15 attempts. Smith was 17-of-34 passing for 160 yards. He threw two interceptions besides the touchdown pass.

Sutton finished with five catches for 72 yards.

For complete statistics from the Appalachian State-Troy game, Log online at: https://appstatesports.com/documents/2018/11/24/APP11.pdf