By David Coulson
LAFAYETTE, LA. — Appalachian State football players may have gotten a late start to the fall semester break, due to the first Wednesday night game in school history at Louisiana-Lafayette.
But the Mountaineer offense was right on time in front of a national television audience on ESPN2, striking early and often on the way to a 24-0 victory over the Ragin’ Cajuns in Sun Belt Conference play.
ASU quarterback Taylor Lamb feathered a perfect spiral to his favorite wide receiver Shaedon Meadors for 56 yards on the Mountaineers’ first play from scrimmage to set up the first of two Jalin Moore touchdown runs as Appalachian (4-2 overall, 2-0 in the Sun Belt) rolled up all of its points in the first 30 minutes of play.
The App State defense also got out to a furious start and never let up in recording its first shutout since the 49-0 blanking of FCS Howard in the 2015 season opener. It was the fourth shutout for the Nate Woody-coordinated defense in the past three years and the first time that ULL had been held scoreless at home since a 27-0 loss to North Texas on Oct. 26, 2002.
“We were ready to play, we were ready to get out here,” ASU coach Scott Satterfield, who watched his team win its 15th Sun Belt game in the past 16 outings over a three-year period, told ESPN2. “We had 10 days off and we had good execution and good work in that week off.”
ULL also killed itself with penalties early. The Ragin’ Cajuns had an ineligible man downfield call that wiped out a first down, three plays into the game, and was called for a false start on the next snap.
Outside linebacker Keenan Gilchrist saved App State from allowing a first down on a third-and-16 draw play, stopping the darting Darius Hoggins after his 15-yard burst to force Louisiana-Lafayette to punt.
On the first Mountaineer offensive play, Lamb faked a zone read play to Moore, pulled the ball back and zeroed in on Meadors, who had broken free on his post move behind the secondary.
Lamb’s throw was perfect and Meadors (six catches for 128 yards, both career highs) raced to the two before being tackled. Moore plowed into the end zone on the next snap to give Appalachian a 7-0 lead less than two and half minutes into the contest.
“We run the football and they were crowding the box, so we were able to beat them over the top with some throws,” Satterfield explained.
After another Ragin’ Cajun punt pinned the Mountaineers back at their own eight, Lamb moved them out of trouble quickly with a third-down pass to Jaquil Capel for 11 yards and ULL’s face mask foul gave ASU 15 more yards.
On the next play, Lamb (15-of-26 for 201 yards and two TDs passing) found Meadors open again for 25 yards and was hit after the pass for a personal foul penalty that added still another 15 yards to the completion. From its own eight, ASU was now threatening again at the ULL 24.
After back-to-back passes to freshman tight end Collin Reed — playing in place of the injured playmaker Barrett Burns — for a total of 15 yards advanced the ball to the three, Moore bashed through the line for another score, but center Parker Collins was called for holding to wipe out the touchdown.
The Mountaineers eventually settled for Michael Rubino’s 21-yard field goal to make it 10-0 in the first period to complete the 11-play, 92-yard drive.
Reed (four catches, 27 yards) capped off his first career start in style with a touchdown when Appalachian received the ball again, getting lost in the back of the end zone for an eight-yard TD toss from Lamb early in the second quarter.
Another defensive stop gave the Mountaineers a chance to score on its fourth consecutive possession and Moore finished off the 10-play, 80-yard march with another brilliant TD scamper. Moore (14 carries, 106 yards) made a sharp cut to take the zone read inside, broke one tackle and sprinted 41 yards to the end zone to expand the lead to 24 points with 5:43 left in the first half.
Moore made his third consecutive start in place of Marcus Cox, who again rested the pulled left quad he injured against Miami. Moore was banged up himself on a couple of plays and left this game early, but isn’t expected to be sidelined for the next game on Oct. 20 at home against Idaho.
Josh Boyd was sharp in stepping up the depth chart for 42 yards on seven carries, including one rush of 15 yards, as ASU finished with 372 yards of offense.
Louisiana-Lafayette had two chances to close the gap in the second quarter, but missed field goals from 49 and 40 yards, the first hitting the left upright and the second sailing badly wide left on either side of Moore’s second touchdown.
Appalachian played less aggressively in the second half and with less execution, but the defense made sure ULL couldn’t climb back into this encounter.
Overall, the Mountaineers limited the Ragin’ Cajuns to 267 yards of total offense and sacked quarterback Anthony Jennings six times. Defensive end Dezmin Reed was involved with three of those sacks.
Appalachian held ULL to 7-of-19 on third-down conversions and 0-of-3 on fourth down plays.
ASU has allowed just three points in two Sun Belt victories after giving up 38 points in its last non-conference game against Akron.
“Our kids are just playing great, our kids are just executing the plan,” said Satterfield. “The defense played outstanding all night long.”