By Tim Gardner
Appalachian State used a balanced offense and a stingy defense to win a Sun Belt Conference game against Texas State University 38-7 in San Marcos, TX Saturday.
The Mountaineers passed for 247 yards and run for 221, while holding Texas State to only 218 yards (132 passing; 86 rushing) and just one touchdown and one extra point.
“It’s a business-like approach what we’ve done the last two weeks,” said Appalachian State head coach Scott Satterfield, who improved his career record to 48-24, moving him into sole possession of third place for coaching victories at the school. “What we’ve done defensively, holding these teams to low yardage, creating turnovers today, and last week our special teams were outstanding. Today, our offense picked up, so we’re finding ways to win football games as a complete team with the offense and defense really feeding off each other.”
With the victory, Appalachian State improved to7-2 over-all, including 5-1 in the conference. The Mountaineers are currently in second place in the Sun Belt’s East Division. Troy is unbeaten in the conference at 6-0 after winning 35-21 at Georgia Southern Saturday.
Appalachian State can win the East outright. For that to happen, the Mountaineers must beat Georgia State next week and Troy in the regular season finale and also have Troy to lose to Texas State next week.
The Mountaineers play both Georgia State and Troy in Boone, with 2:30 p.m. kickoffs.
However, if Troy beats Texas State next week and then defeats Appalachian State in two weeks, Troy wins the East outright as the Trojans would have the division’s only final unblemished record.
At best, Georgia Southern (4-2 conference; 7-3 over-all) could only tie Troy for first place, but Troy would still be considered first because of beating Georgia Southern. However, Georgia Southern could finish ahead of Appalachian State, but would have to beat Coastal Carolina and Georgia State and also have the Mountaineers lose to both Georgia State and Troy.
If Georgia Southern wins both its remaining conference games and Appalachian loses one, the two would tie for second place. In that scenario, Georgia Southern would be considered the second place team by virtue of beating Appalachian State 34-14.
The conference’s first title game between the winner of the East and West Divisions will be played on December 1.
But back to this week’s Mountaineers’ game, Texas State drove to the Appalachian State 33 early, led mostly by dual threat quarterback Willie Jones III, who ran for two first downs. But Appalachian State safety Josh Thomas forced a fumble by Jones III, which was recovered by fellow-safety Austin Exford.
The Mountaineers then went 67 yards in only three plays— all by passing– for the game’s first score.
Quarterback Zac Thomas, playing for the first time since his concussion against Georgia Southern on Oct. 25, found tight end Collin Reed for a 43-yard gain for his opening completion.
Wide receiver Dominique Heath caught the next two passes —from 16 and 8 yards. The latter was a touchdown from Thomas with 12:04 remaining in the opening period. Chandler Staton added the conversion kick to provide a 7-0 lead.
Reed then scored a touchdown on the second play of the second quarter (14:14) when he caught a pass from Thomas on third-and-goal from the Texas State 1. Staton nailed the point-after kick to put Appalachian State up 14-0.
During Texas State’s second drive of the quarter, two Appalachian State penalties allowed the Bobcats to sustain a potential scoring drive that went to the Mountaineers’ 3-yard line. But Appalachian State’s defense denied the threat, coming up with another turnover. Chris Willis’ backfield pressure set up Noel Cook interception on the goal line with 7:11 left in the first half.
Appalachian State’s offense responded with a 13-play, 95-yard drive for another touchdown, capped by a 1-yard score by running back Darrynton Evans with 1:20 left in the half. Staton followed with the conversion kick to boost the Mountaineers to a 21-0 lead.
The drive took nearly six minutes (5:51).
A running game that was held to only 54 yards in the first half received a jolt from Evans just fourteen seconds (14:36) into the third quarter when he bolted 79 yards for a touchdown. Staton added the point-after kick to give the Mountaineers a 28-0 cushion.
Evans finished with 86 yards rushing on nine attempts.
Texas State answered the score with eight minutes to go in the third quarter, driving 43 yards in seven plays. Quarterback Tyler Vitt passed to Keenen Brown down the middle for a 6-yard touchdown and Chris Kessler made the extra-point kick as the deficit was cut to 28-7.
Appalachian State then held on to the ball for more than eight minutes and increased its lead to 31-7 when Staton kicked a 29-yard field goal the first play of the final period (14:50).
The Mountaineers added more insurance points with 2:01 left when reserve running back Camerun Peoples rushed for a 9-yard touchdown behind an excellent block from center Noah Hannon. Staton booted his fifth PAT of the game for the 38-7 tally.
Peoples rushed five times for 42 yards.
Willis and Okon Godwin recorded sacks and MyQuon Stout made Appalachian State’s second fumble recovery of the game in the final 90 seconds. All three are linemen. Inside linebackers Anthony Flory and Jordan Fehr tied for the team lead with nine tackles each.
Thomas was 25-of- 36 passing.
Trailing Troy (8-2 over-all), Appalachian State and Georgia Southern in the East Division is Coastal Carolina (2-4 conference; 5-5 over-all). Georgia State (1-5 conference; 2-8 over-all) is in last place.
Louisiana-Monroe is atop the Sun Belt’s West Division (4-2 conference; 6-4 over-all). Arkansas State (3-3 conference; 6-4 over-all) and Louisiana-Lafayette (3-3 conference; 5-5 over-all) are tied for second. But Louisiana-Lafayette would be considered technically second because of its 47-43 win over Arkansas State. Like Texas State, South Alabama is 1-5 in league play. But South Alabama is technically fourth because it beat Texas State 41-31. Over-all, Texas State is 3-7 and South Alabama is 2-8.
For complete team and individual statistics from the Appalachian State-Texas State game, log onto: https://appstatesports.com/documents/2018/11/10//Texas_State_vs_App_State_game_stats.pdf