Returning interceptions

Appalachian State linebacker Brendan Harrington (29) returns an interception against Charlotte.

BOONE — Appalachian State had to beat visiting Charlotte 35-20 on its own. The Mountaineers were missing a key element that is a big factor in most victories at Kidd Brewer Stadium — the fans.

The university banned spectators from watching all sporting events hosted by Appalachian State during the month of September due to statewide COVID-19 gathering restrictions.

So, Appalachian State beat the 49ers in a stadium that was missing its usual big crowd of students, alumni, family members of the players and coaches and fans who follow the program on their own. Mountaineers coach Shawn Clark did his part to get the players ready for the lack of a live crowd by running his players though two live scrimmages in the weeks leading up to the game.

“It was what we prepared for,” Clark said. “I thought our guys handled it great. We had two scrimmages and our people knew that was what it was going to be like. I would love to have 30,000 people here, the best fans in college football at The Rock, but that was what we were dealt. But we were going to follow the guidelines of our university, our state and go from there.”

A lack of the usual vocal volume was not the only obstacle facing the Mountaineers. Wet weather greeted both teams, but App State’s offense responded by gaining 308 rushing yards and scoring four touchdowns on the ground.

App State senior receiver Thomas Hennigan said the Mountaineers had to find their energy for the game from another source besides a loud home crowd.

“I’ve played some high school games where there weren’t many people there,” Hennigan said. “This is a program where we are bringing our own energy and it was the same way out on the field. The freshmen and the strength staff did a really good job of keeping the energy high. It was different not having anybody in the stands, but at the end of day, the team on the other side was dealing with the same environment, so we decided to just go and play our game.”

“We bring our own juice,” defensive back Shemar Jean-Charles said. “Just being able to go out there and play football knowing that a lot of teams out there in the country did not have the opportunity. That’s enough for us to go out there and bring our own energy.”

Clark was happy with how the Mountaineers dealt with all of the distractions brought on during the recent months before the game.

“I was so tickled to death how we responded to the elements and to what is going on in the world,” Clark said. “We’re 1-0 and that was our goal. We’ll go back and get things corrected and go from there.”

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