BOONE — On a day marred with rain and chilly temperatures, Appalachian State’s running game warmed up against Texas State at the right time.
The No. 24-ranked Mountaineers (10-1, 6-1 Sun Belt) got 154 yards rushing and three touchdowns from Darrynton Evans and the Mountaineers beat visiting Texas State 35-13 on Nov. 23 at wet Kidd Brewer Stadium. Appalachian State clinched the East Division championship with the Mountaineers’ win and Georgia Southern’s 38-33 Sun Belt loss to Arkansas State. That loss leaves Georgia Southern with a 6-5 overall record and 4-3 in the Sun Belt with one game left in the regular season.
Appalachian’s State’s game at Troy on Nov. 30 still looms large in the Sun Belt standings. If App State wins the game, the Mountaineers will host the Sun Belt Conference championship game. If App State loses and if potential West Division champion Louisiana wins, the Ragin’ Cajuns would host the championship game.
If both teams lose, App State will be the host.
“We’re just trying to be 1-0 next week against Troy,” App State head coach Eliah Drinkwitz said. “That’s all we’re worried about right now. Unless something changes, all of our focus is Troy.”
If there was one negative for the Mountaineers to take from the game, it was a knee injury suffered by standout receiver Corey Sutton, who was hurt in the first half and did not return to the field. He watched the second half in crutches on the sideline.
“Corey is one of the best wide receivers in the country,” Drinkwitz said. “He’s obviously a big part of what we’ve done, especially in the past couple of weeks. I hurt for him. I don’t know the extent of the injury right now. We’ll know more tomorrow and Monday as we gather more information, but it’s devastating for us.”
There was the matter of getting past Texas State (3-8, 2-5 Sun Belt). Appalachian State leading 14-13 early in the third quarter, picked up three second-half touchdowns, all scored by Evans.
Evans put the Mountaineers in front 21-13 with a 13-yard touchdown run with 5:32 left in the third quarter. Evans added another touchdown, this time from 10 yards, to give App State a 28-13 lead on the final play of the third quarter. Evans struck again with a 13-yard touchdown run with 6:26 left in the fourth quarter to leave the Mountaineers in front 35-13.
“It really took us until the third quarter to figure out what they were trying to do to us in the run game,” Drinkwitz said. “Everybody does something a little bit different against us, so it takes us a little time to settle in to what exactly they are doing and how to attack it.”
App State struck first with a 45-yard strike from Zac Thomas to Corey Sutton with 7:09 left in the first quarter. The play gave the Mountaineers a 7-0 lead that Texas State shrunk to 7-3 on a field goal, but App State increased to 14-3 on a diving catch by Keishawn Watson with 1:00 left in the first half.
Texas State quarter Tyler Vitt sent a pass deep that Javen Banks caught for a 53-yard touchdown pass with just three seconds left in the second quarter that left App State clinging to a 14-10 halftime lead.
Appalachian State 35, Texas State 13
Texas State 0 10 3 0 — 13
Appalachian State 7 7 14 7 — 35
App—Sutton 45 pass from Thomas (Staton kick)
TexSt—Rowland FG 48
App—Watson 19 pass from Thomas (Staton kick)
TexSt.— Banks 53 pass from, Vitt (Rowland kick)
TexSt.—Rowland FG 48
App—Evans 13 run (Staton kick)
App—Evans 10 run (Staton kick)
App—Evans 13 run (Staton kick)
Texas State App State
First downs 11 23
By rushing 5 13
By passing 6 6
By penalty 0 4
Rushes-yards 25-54 49-280
Avg. per rush 2.2 5.7
Passing yards 154 188
Passes 18-34-1 9-17-0
Avg. per pass 4.5 11.1
Avg. per comp. 8.6 20.9
Total plays-yards 59-208 66-468
Avg. per play 3.5 7.1
Penalties-yards 9-76 5-40
Punts-avg. 7-416 4-41.0
Net avg. 40.9 34.2
Fumbles-lost 1-0 1-1
Time of poss. 26:47 33:05
Third-down conv. 4-15 6-14
Fourth-down conv. 1-2 0-1
Rushing: Texas State—Brown Jr. 8-35, Twyford 6-20, Vitt 8-15, Taylor 1-2, White 1-(-6); App State—Evans 21-154, Williams 15-78, Thomas 6-28, Anderson 7-20.
Passing: Texas State—Vitt 18-34-1 154; App State—Thomas 8-16-0 174, Evans 1-1-0 14 14.
Receiving; Texas State—Banks 5-82, Haydel 5-25, Hays 3-31, White 2-21, Twyford 2 (-10), Hilts 1-5; App State—Virgil 3-26, Hennigan 2-70, Sutton 2-45, Williams 1-28, Watson 1-19.