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Mountaineers Scrimmage, Meet with Fans Saturday

BOONE, N.C. — After the skies dumped a healthy amount of rain on the Appalachian State campus Friday night and Saturday morning, the clouds broke apart just in time to shine a spotlight on the Mountaineers’ second fall scrimmage, as the football team prepares for its Sept. 1 opener at No. 9 ranked Penn State (3:30 p.m., Big Ten Network).

Coaches and players returned to the Kidd Brewer Stadium field in the evening to show appreciation to App Nation and take part in the Mountaineers’ annual Fan Fest.

The offense, directed by first-string quarterback Zac Thomas, started Saturday’s scrimmage with a 13-play drive capped by a 12-yard Darrynton Evans touchdown in which he took the handoff, made one cut and beat the defensive backs to the right pylon.

After that first drive, the App State defense, which has ranked as one of the nation’s better units over the last three seasons, took over.

“The defense that we’re playing is a really good defense,” head coach Scott Satterfield said. “Our guys are flying around. Our defense has seen (our offense) every day, and that makes it tough on the offense.

New defensive coordinator Bryan Brown’s side kept the offense out of the end zone for most of the rest of the scrimmage, save a 30-yard strike from Thomas to sophomore Corey Sutton that may or may not have been a two-hand-touch sack (depending on whose sideline you were on) and a couple of goal-line situation dives by true freshman running back Camerun Peoples and sophomore QB Jacob Huesman.

Defensive highlights included a big third-down sack by senior DB Austin Exford, a couple of Cllifton Duck swats to break up would-be touchdowns and a goal-line situation sack by sophomore DL Chris Willis.

Speaking of goal-line situations, there were a couple of plays there by Peoples, a 6-foot-2 freshman back from Lineville, Ala., that particularly caught the eye of his new head coach.

“Cam got his helmet knocked off, got kicked in the face, came out and came right back in there and had a hard, tough run to score a touchdown,” Satterfield recalled. “That’s the kind of stuff I’m looking to see. When it’s tough and hard, who’s going to keep going? And who’s going to shut it down? That play told me a lot about him.”

The Mountaineer coaches used Saturday’s scrimmage to focus on the kicking game, including punts, field goals and coverages.

Sophomore Xavier Subotsch and redshirt freshman Clayton Howell are neck-and-neck in the battle for starting punt duties. Subotsch handled those duties last year, but Howell has impressed on the field this fall with a strong right leg.

The combination of sophomore Chandler Staton and junior Michael Rubino converted all but one field goal successfully during the scrimmage, and the one miss was due to a low snap.

The coaching staff will work on narrowing down the first- and second-string squads and Penn State travel roster Monday, the last day of fall camp before App State classes begin Tuesday.