By Tim Gardner
It will be the Sun Belt Conference’s first place team playing a team tied for last in the league standings Saturday in Kidd Brewer Stadium when Appalachian State hosts the Coastal Carolina Chanticleers in a 3:30 p.m. kickoff. The game also will be available on television on ESPN 3.
Appalachian State (4-2 overall; 3-0 Sun Belt) will attempt to retain sole possession atop the conference, remain undefeated in its play and win its fifth game of the season. On the other spectrum, Coastal Carolina (1-5 over-all; 0-3 Sun Belt) will look for its first league victory. The Chanticleers are tied with Texas State in the twelve-team conference.
Coastal Carolina lost its fifth straight game last week in a 51-17 blowout at Arkansas State, while the Mountaineers rallied from a 20-0 deficit to win 23-20 at Idaho. That pushed Appalachian State’s record to a sterling 23-2 in its last 25 conference games.
Coastal Carolina proved to be no match for the high octane passing offense of Arkansas State. The Chanticleers gave up at least 50 points for the third time in their skid.
Coastal Carolina’s win came over UMass (38-28). Besides the Arkansas State loss, the Chanticleers have fallen to the University of Alabama-Birmingham (UAB) 30-23; Western Illinois 52-10; the University of Louisiana-Monroe 51-43; and Georgia State 27-21.
Besides Idaho, the Mountaineers have wins over Savannah State (54-7), Texas State (20-13) and New Mexico State (45-31). Their losses were to Georgia (31-10) and Wake Forest (20-19).
The victory over Idaho marked the Mountaineers 600th in school history. Appalachian State, which started playing football in 1928, is 600-333-28 overall.
This will be the fourth meeting between Appalachian State and Coastal Carolina. The Mountaineers won each of the previous three meetings, all of which were played in Boone.
Like the Mountaineers, Coastal operates from primarily a Spread offense. The Chanticleers use a 4-3 defense. Appalachian State is based from a 3-4 defense.
Coastal Carolina ranks 98th in the Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) in passing offense with an average of 186 yards per game and 40th in rushing with 192 yards per game.
Senior quarterback Tyler Keane is 66 of 114 passing for 904 yards with eight touchdowns against five interceptions. Senior running back Osharmar Abercrombie leads the Chanticleers’ running game with 77 carries for 434 yards and four touchdowns. Redshirt junior running back Marcus Outlow (40 carries, 190 yards, one touchdown) and sophomore running back Alex James (22 carries, 158 yards, two touchdowns) also see their share of carries.
Junior wide receiver Malcolm Williams leads Coastal Carolina in receiving with 21 catches for 438 yards and two touchdowns. Another junior wide receiver Omar Black (16 grabs, 229 yards, one touchdown) and sophomore wide receiver Ky’Jon Tyler (14 receptions, 121 yards, one touchdown) are secondary receiving-options.
Junior Evan Rabon has kicked all 15 of his extra point attempts for the Chanticleers, but has made only five of 10 field goals. His season-long field goal is 52 yards.
Safety Fitz Wattley has 46 tackles (24 solos; 22 assists) to pace Coastal Carolina defensively.
The Mountaineers are 79th in the FBS with 210.3 passing yards per game and 49th in rushing with 186.5 yards per game. They are tied for 73rd in scoring offense with 28.5 points per game and rank 37th in scoring defense with 20.3 points per game.
Their senior quarterback Taylor Lamb will be going for a school record against Coastal Carolina. He needs only to throw one touchdown pass to break Armanti Edwards’ (2006-’09) school record for career touchdown passes. Lamb tied Edwards’ school record of 74 career touchdown passes last week at Idaho. Lamb tossed three second-half touchdown passes, including two to senior wide receiver Ike Lewis, to rally the Mountaineers to the verdict.
Lamb also only needs to throw two touchdown passes to tie Florida Atlantic’s Rusty Smith (76 from 2005-09) for fourth place on the Sun Belt career list.
Additionally, Lamb improved to 31-11 last week as a starter, breaking a second-place tie on the Appalachian State career quarterback victories list with D.J. Campbell (30-17). Edwards was 42-7 in his career.
Lamb has completed 102 of 167 passes for 1,197 yards and eleven touchdowns this season. He has thrown only three interceptions, and has added 254 rushing yards and two more touchdowns.
Junior running back Jalin Moore leads Appalachian State with 83 carries for 426 yards and three touchdowns. Senior running back Terrence Upshaw has added 68 carries for 314 yards and four touchdowns. Freshman wide receiver Thomas Hennigan has a team-leading 28 receptions for a team-high 268 yards and two touchdowns. Henningan’s fellow-wide receivers (freshman) Malik Williams (14 receptions, 138 yards) and Lewis (17 catches, 214 yards, two touchdowns) are the only other Mountaineers with double-digit receptions.
Sophomore kicker Michael Rubino has booted 18 of 20 extra points and eight of 11 field goal attempts for Appalachian State. His season-long field goal came from 46 yards.
Senior linebacker Eric Boggs leads the Mountaineers defensively. He has a team-best 48 tackles (24 solos and 24 assists).
This game not only has an Appalachian State win written all over it, but it should develop into a rout for the Mountaineers. A true indicator of a good or great team is one that wins the games it’s supposed to win, rarely getting upset. And Appalachian State has a good team and one that could even be considered among the finest in its rich and storied history by season’s end. So don’t anticipate an upset in this game.
The Chanticleers are surrendering an average of 39.8 points and 402 yards per game and Appalachian State may be the best team they’ve played. The Mountaineers have too much talent for Coastal Carolina to have more than only a decent chance to overcome. Prediction: Appalachian State 46, Coastal Carolina 7.