By Nathan Ham
The Appalachian State Mountaineers are going for a sixth straight bowl game victory when the team faces off against the North Texas Mean Green in the inaugural Myrtle Beach Bowl played at Coastal Carolina’s stadium in Conway, South Carolina.
App State finished the regular season at 8-3 overall and 6-2 in the Sun Belt Conference. North Texas ended the year at 4-5 overall and 3-4 in Conference USA. This will be the second game against a Conference USA foe for Appalachian this season. The Mountaineers lost a hard-fought defensive struggle 17-7 at Marshall in the second game of the regular season.
This is the first time these two programs have met on the field, however, there is a brief connection between the two teams. App State’s Hall of Fame head coach Jerry Moore’s first head coaching job was at North Texas for two seasons in 1979 and 1980. Moore is a Texas native and had spent eight years as an assistant coach at SMU and six years as an assistant coach at Nebraska before taking his first head coaching job.
The Myrtle Beach Bowl will be the third year in a row that Appalachian has faced a Conference USA team. In 2018 the Mountaineers played Middle Tennessee State in New Orleans, a 45-17 win for the black and gold. Last season, the Mountaineers beat UAB 31-17 once again in New Orleans. The three bowl games prior to that saw App State face off against MAC schools with back-to-back wins over Toledo (34-0 in Mobile in 2018 and 31-28 in Montgomery in 2017) and a 31-29 last-second escape over Ohio.
North Texas was one of the original teams when the Sun Belt Conference formed, and they made it known really quick that they had a solid football program. The Mean Green won the first four Sun Belt Conference Championships from 2001 to 2004. North Texas made the move to Conference USA in the 2013 season.
The Mean Green will challenge the Mountaineer secondary with the best wide receiver in the nation you’ve probably never heard of. Jaelon Darden is third in the country with 74 catches for 1,190 yards and leads the country in touchdown receptions with 19.
The game will kickoff at 2:30 p.m. and will live on ESPN with Courtney Lyle handling the play-by-play call, Eric MacLain in the analyst role and both Marty Smith and Ryan McGee on the sideline. App State’s radio voices Adam Witten and Pierre Banks will have the call on 97.3 FM in North Wilkesboro, 600 AM in Winston-Salem, 1270 AM in Charlotte and 1450 AM in Hendersonville. The game can also be heard nationwide on ESPN Radio with Travis Jones on the play-by-play call and Landry Burdine filling the analyst role.
Appalachian State’s Offensive Leaders
QB Zac Thomas: 178 for 275 passing with 2,075 yards, 19 TDs, 11 INTs
RB Cam Peoples: 146 carries, 807 yards, 7 TDs
WR Thomas Hennigan: 45 catches, 571 yards, 3 TDs
North Texas’ Offensive Leaders
QB Austin Aune: 101 for 185 passing with 1,650 yards, 13 TDs, 4 INTs
RB DeAndre Torrey: 113 carries, 656 yards, 6 TDs
WR Jaelon Darden: 74 catches, 1,190 yards, 19 TDs