By Tim Gardner
Senior defensive back Steven Jones tied Appalachian State school records by both intercepting three passes and returning two for touchdowns and the Mountaineers scored the game’s last 34 points to roll to a 48-14 rout of the Arkansas State Red Wolves in Sun Belt Conference action Saturday in Jonesboro, AR.
The Mountaineers (7-2 over-all; 4-1 conference) remain atop the Sun Belt’s East Division with the victory.
Appalachian State also remains in control of the East Division. If the Mountaineers win remaining games against South Alabama, Troy and Georgia Southern, they would likely return to Lafayette, LA for a rematch against Louisiana-Lafayette in the Sun Belt Conference championship game on December 4 (3:30 p.m., ESPN). The Louisiana-Lafayette Ragin’ Cajuns, who have won eight straight games, routed the visiting Mountaineers 41-13 on October 12.
The Mountaineers had a solid effort offensively versus Arkansas State, posting 461 yards.
Nate Noel had 122 rushing yards on 22 carries and Camerun Peoples added 116 yards on 14 carries for Appalachian State’s rushing attack. Noel and Peoples each scored a rushing touchdown.
The Mountaineers finished with 264 yards rushing.
Chandler Staton nailed field goals from 33 and 22 yards, setting an Appalachian State record by hitting a 16th consecutive field goal.
Appalachian State produced a herculean defensive effort, limiting the Red Wolves to just 193 total yards (only 62 rushing). Jones’ touchdowns on interception returns covered 47 and 34 yards. Nick Hampton had two of Appalachian State’s four sacks. D’Marco Jackson and Tyler Bird also added sacks.
Malik Williams caught a lateral from quarterback Chase Brice and fired a 34-yard rainbow pass down the right sideline to fellow-wide receiver Thomas Hennigan, who was so wide open he skipped into the end zone for the game’s first score. Staton added the extra point kick for a 7-0 Appalachian State lead.
Jones intercepted a pass by Arkansas State quarterback Layne Hatcher three plays later, returning the pick 47 yards for a touchdown, followed by Staton point-after conversion kick for 14-0 Mountaineers advantage.
The Red Wolves (1-8 over-all, 0-5 conference) fought back for a 14-14 tie on two Hatcher touchdown passes, but Appalachian State would score the next 34 points to win going away.
Noel’s 18-yard touchdown run capped an eight-play, 60-yard drive that covered just over three minutes, and was followed by Staton’s point-after conversion. Then a three-and-out defensive stop set up a drive that took up most of what was left in the first half. Staton’s 33-yard field goal with three seconds left before the half increased Appalachian State’s lead to 24-14.
Brice tossed a 10-yard scoring pass to tight end Miller Gibbs and Staton again added the conversion kick to give the Mountaineers a 31-14 cushion midway through the third quarter.
Hampton and Bird produced back-to-back sacks to end Arkansas State’s next possession, and Peoples then scored on a 27-yard run. Staton booted the point-after for a 38-14 lead with 2:59 left in the quarter.
The other field goal from Staton and the other defensive touchdown by Jones (and Staton’s point-after kick) in the fourth period concluded the scoring.
Hatcher completed 17-of-30 passes for 137 yards, but was intercepted three times.
Complete game statistics can be found by logging onto: https://appstatesports.com/documents/2021/11/6/APP09.PDF
Appalachian State next hosts South Alabama in a conference clash on Saturday, November 13, in Kidd Brewer Stadium in Boone. Kickoff is set for 2:30 p.m.
App State Finishes With Flourish in Sun Belt Road Win
One trick play, followed by timely takeaways, takedowns and defensive touchdowns, propelled App State to another Sun Belt Conference road win.
The Mountaineers remained atop the Sun Belt’s East Division thanks to a 48-14 victory at Arkansas State on Saturday. App State (7-2, 4-1) broke free from a 14-all tie by scoring the final 34 points.
Steven Jones tied a school record by both intercepting three passes and scoring on two interception returns, with his touchdowns covering 47 and 34 yards. Nick Hampton accounted for two of App State’s four sacks. D’Marco Jackson and Tyler Bird also contributed sacks.
Offensively, kick-started by Malik Williams’ trick-play touchdown pass to Thomas Hennigan, the Mountaineers posted 461 yards of total offense. Nate Noel (122 rushing yards on 22 attempts) and Camerun Peoples (116 yards on 14 attempts) each scored once on the ground. Chandler Staton went 2-for-2 on field goals, setting a school record by hitting his 16th straight field goal.
App State opened the scoring when Williams, a wide receiver and former high school quarterback, produced the fifth touchdown pass of his career with a 34-yard toss to a wide-open Hennigan, who increased his career total to 19 receiving scores.
Less than a minute later, Jones Jr. picked off an errant pass and returned it 47 yards for a touchdown — his second straight game with a pick-six touchdown.
Arkansas State (1-8, 0-5) responded with back-to-back touchdowns to tie the game, capitalizing on a turnover and a defensive back who slipped on the end-zone turf, but App State quickly reclaimed control.
Noel’s 18-yard touchdown run capped an eight-play, 60-yard drive that covered a little more than three minutes, and a three-and-out defensive stop set up a drive that took up most of what was left in the first half. Staton’s 33-yard field goal with three seconds left before the break increased the margin to 24-14.
A sack from Hampton early in the third quarter helped force a punt prior to another App State touchdown drive, with a second-and-25 rush of 19 yards to the Arkansas State 10 preceded Brice’s 10-yard scoring pass to tight end Miller Gibbs.
Hampton and Bird produced back-to-back sacks to quickly end the next series, and Peoples scored from 27 yards on a third-and-12 carry.
A short field goal from Staton and another defensive touchdown by Jones capped the scoring.