By Tim Gardner
Playing with a skeleton crew due to Coronavirus (COVID-19) quarantines, Appalachian State roared back from a second-quarter hole to rout winless Campbell University 52-21 Saturday at Kidd Brewer Stadium in Boone. It was Appalachian State’s last non-conference game.
The Mountaineers had 18 players quarantined for the game, along with three assistant coaches and a graduate assistant.
“We had three positions wiped out,” Appalachian State head coach Shawn Clark said. Clark had to resort to changing player positions during a team meeting on Wednesday in order to have enough depth at the depleted positions.
One of the positions hit hardest was wide receiver, so Appalachian State (2-1) relied heavily on its running game to beat the lower-level Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) Camels. Appalachian State rushed for a whopping 417 yards and seven touchdowns.
Redshirt junior Daetrich Harrington powered behind his massive offensive line 32 times to rush for 211 yards and four touchdowns to lead the Mountaineers on that side of the ball. Harrington made touchdown runs of 17, 2, 40 and 5 yards, respectively.
He became the first Appalachian State player to score four touchdowns in a game since Armanti Edwards did so in 2009.
“We knew if we were going to win this game that we were going to put it in the hands of our offensive line and our running back, Daetrich,” said Clark, who coached Appalachian State’s offensive linemen as an assistant coach from 2016-19. “I know those guys very well. I recruited all of them up front, and I have a lot of trust in those guys. And they told me, ‘Coach, run the ball and we’ll win.’ ”
True freshman running back Nate Noel ran for 131 yards in the first game of his career for the Mountaineers.
Quarterback Hajj-Malik Williams gave Campbell (0-3) an early lead, running for a 1-yard touchdown for the game’s first score in the opening quarter. After Harrington matched him at the close of the period, Williams rushed 10 yards for a second touchdown to put Campbell back on top, 13-7. Williams finished with 44 yards on the ground and 101 passing to lead Campbell in both statistical categories.
But after the Camels (0-3) took their second lead, Appalachian State then ripped off the game’s next 45 points to put them away.
The Mountaineers were dominant against the pass, holding Campbell to only eight completions in 20 attempts. Heading into the game, Appalachian State had the lowest completion rate allowed in the nation at just 40 percent.
Senior safety Kaiden Smith had a team-high seven tackles for the Mountaineers, and cornerback Shemar Jean-Charles added two more Pass Break-Ups to increase his major college-leading total to eight.
Appalachian State came into the game leading major college football in pass breakups and added a sterling five more in the game.
True freshman Jalen McLeod started at outside linebacker in his first college appearance for Appalachian State, and he forced a fumble and recorded a sack. Trey Cobb and Tristan Walliser added sacks for a defense that delivered four three-and-out stops and a goal line stand in a five-possession stretch.
The Mountaineers are idle this coming week and host Louisiana in Boone on Wednesday, October 7 in their next game. It has a 7:30 p.m. kickoff and will be nationally televised on ESPN.
Pictures courtesy of Appalachian State Athletics