By Tim Gardner
Photography by David C. Mayo
The Appalachian State Mountaineers kept their perfect record this season intact with a 52-7 homecoming rout of Louisiana-Monroe in a Sun Belt Conference game played on a cold and rainy autumn afternoon Saturday at Boone’s Kidd Brewer Stadium.
A sellout crowd of 27,717 attended the game, which was also viewed by thousands, perhaps millions more on ESPN Plus television.
Appalachian State (6-0 over-all; 3-0 conference) had little trouble moving the ball against the Warhawks (3-4 over-all; 2-1 conference), rolling up a whopping 572 yards and 27 first downs.
Louisiana-Monroe (3-4 over-all; 2-1 conference) took the opening kickoff and drove 82 yards in twelve plays to take a 7-0 lead. Kayin White ran one yard for a touchdown and Jared Porter added the conversion kick for the Warhawks.
But from there it was all Appalachian State.
The Mountaineers answered with a touchdown and extra point on their first possession and only forty-one seconds later. Darrynton Evans darted up the middle for a 59-yard touchdown run to cap a 75-yard drive that took only three plays. Chandler Staton provided the conversion kick for a 7-7 tie at the 10:28 mark of the first period
Appalachian State next drove 76 yards in twelve plays to take its first lead and one for good with 4:46 left in the opening quarter. Quarterback Zac Thomas tossed a 6-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Thomas Henningan and Staton converted the point-after kick to provide a 14-7 score.
Appalachian State then increased its lead to 21-7 with 1:19 to go in the first period on a 1-yard touchdown run by Thomas and Staton’s PAT.
The touchdown was set up when Louisiana-Monroe’s Josh Johnson rushed up the middle for 9 yard gain, but fumbled, and the Mountaineers’ Josh Thomas picked up the ball and returned it 37 yards to provide a first-and-ten at the Warhawks’ 24-yard line.
The Mountaineers pushed their cushion to 24-7 when Staton booted a 27-yard field goal with 11:27 left in the second quarter to cap an eleven-play; 55-yard drive.
They then made it 31-7. Thomas passed to Collin Reed down the middle for 1-yard touchdown and Staton added the extra point with 1:19 remaining in the first half.
The touchdown drive covered 64 yards and took eight plays.
The Mountaineers continued their onslaught in the last half. They went 75 yards in twelve plays to go ahead 38-7 at the 9:55 mark of the third quarter when Evans caught a 15-yard touchdown pass from Thomas and Staton added the extra point.
Appalachian State boosted its cushion to 45-7 on an eight play; 46-yard drive early (12:41) in the final period. Marcus Williams Jr. rushed up the middle for a 1-yard touchdown, followed by Staton’s sixth extra point kick of the game.
On second-and-eight from its own 44, Appalachian State’s Jalen Virgil caught a 56-yard touchdown pass from reserve quarterback Jacob Huesman with 7:41 to play. Staton made the point-after kick for a 52-7 count to conclude the game’s scoring.Evans finished with a game-high 136 yards rushing on seventeen carries.
Thomas completed 18-of-30 passes for 214 yards. He threw one interception.
Defensively, outside linebacker Noel Cook led the Mountaineers with 8 tackles ( 3 solos; 5 assists).
Appalachian State will travel to South Alabama next Saturday, October 26 for another Sun Belt game. Kickoff is set for 12:00 noon at Ladd-Peebles Stadium in Mobile, AL.