App State (1-1, 0-0 Sun Belt) vs. Charlotte (1-1, 0-0 CUSA)
September 8, 2018
6 p.m. ET
Final Score: App State 45 Charlotte 9
New starter, redshirt sophomore Zac Thomas, made his second start of his career against the 49ers and shined, completing all 14 of his pass attempts for 295 yards and three touchdowns. He also rushed eight times for 29 yards and a touchdown, the Mountaineers sole rushing touchdown on the evening. Thomas posted a rating of 347.7 for his efforts and exited the game in the fourth quarter, allowing backups redshirt freshman Peyton Derrick and redshirt sophomore Jacob Huesman to also make appearances for the Mountaineers.
Running backs: B+
While the running backs did not have the best game, they did have their moments against the 49ers. Senior starter Jalin Moore rushed 11 times for 38 yards while redshirt sophomore backups Marcus Williams and Darrynton Evans and redshirt freshman D’Andre Hicks also had carries on the evening, rushing for 31, 24 and six yards respectively, a total of 99 yards for the group. While they averaged just 4.42 yards per carry, they had flashes of brilliance, such as Williams’ 27-yard pick up in the fourth quarter and Evans’ 11-yard gain that put the Mountaineers on the goal line. While the running backs did not have a bad game, App State will certainly hope for more than just 93 yards from its running backs in the future.
Wide Receivers: A+
The wide receivers had an excellent game against Charlotte with six different receivers making receptions for the Mountaineers. Redshirt sophomore and Kansas State transfer Corey Sutton in particular had a standout game, reeling in three catches for 155 yards and two touchdowns, including a long 90-yard scoring run on a 10-yard curl route. Sophomore Malik Williams also had a nice game, also catching three balls for 51 yards. Sophomore Thomas Hennigan, redshirt sophomore Jalen Virgil and graduate transfer Dominique Heath also had receptions for App State, with Heath grabbing a 7-yard touchdown reception in the second quarter. As a whole, the App State wide receivers had 10 receptions for 242 yards and also recorded zero drops for the game.
Tight Ends: A
The tight ends group had a good night with freshman Henry Pearson making three receptions for 50 yards, including catches on back-to-back plays. The tight ends also had a good night blocking, contributing to a one-sack night for Thomas with no quarterback hurries. The tight ends were primarily used as blockers against the 49ers, recording only three targets on the evening.
Offensive Line: A+
The offensive line had an excellent game, holding the 49ers defenders back and allowing Thomas to have ample time in the pocket. The 49ers front seven sacked Thomas only once on the evening and had no hurries, a testament to the quality of protection that the Mountaineers were providing. The line also opened up enough holes for the Mountaineers to accrue nearly 140 rushing yards on the evening.
Defensive Line: A+
The Mountaineers’ defensive line was relentless getting into the backfield, getting through the 49ers offensive line and contributing to seven quarterback hurries and totaling one sack with redshirt junior tackle Brody Barrett and redshirt senior end Okon Godwin grabbing a half sack each. Barrett, Godwin, redshirt sophomore tackle Elijah Diarrassouba and sophomore end Demetrius Taylor also all recorded tackles for a loss.
The linebacking corps also had a good night, contributing to seven quarterback hurries while racking up 1.5 sacks and 3.0 tackles for a loss. Juniors Akeem Davis-Gaither and Noel Cook were the Mountaineers’ two leading tacklers, Davis-Gaither ahead of the pack with eight total tackles and a half tackle for a loss. Cook had a breakout game, totaling seven tackles, one sack and two tackles for a loss. As a sophomore in 2017, Cook had just nine tackles all year and one for a loss. Senior Anthony Flory also had a nice game, posting six tackles.
The secondary’s one interception on the night resulted in a touchback for the 49ers but they had a good night nonetheless. Senior safety Austin Exford tied for the third most tackles on the night with six and also had 1.5 tackles for a loss while junior safety Josh Thomas had five tackles. Redshirt junior safety Demond Franklin grabbed the Mountaineers’ lone interception on the day but fumbled right before he crossed the goal line.
Special Teams: A+
Hennigan’s 59-yard punt return for a touchdown was the gem of the night for special teams. After weaving through some nice blocks, Hennigan found daylight on the outside and scored his first return for a touchdown in his career. Starting punter redshirt freshman Clayton Howell only had to punt twice but made the most of them, averaging over 40 yards per attempt and putting one inside the Charlotte 20-yard line. Redshirt sophomore kicker Chandler Staton had only one field goal attempt on the day but was good from 31 yards and was also perfect on point after attempts.
Player of the Game: Zac Thomas
While there are several good options for player of the game, it has to be given to quarterback Zac Thomas. Thomas was a perfect 14-14 on passing attempts and also had a good night rushing the ball. He lead the Mountaineers offense effectively all night long and always seemed to be in control.
Overall Team Grade: A
This game was as close to being perfect as it gets. The offense moved the ball efficiently and the defense played very physically throughout the game. The game was not 100 percent flawless, with the running backs averaging only four yards per carry and the team turning the ball over twice. But comparing 434 yards gained on offense to only 203 yards allowed on defense shows that App State played exceptionally well and is deserving of an A grade.
Story By: Brooks Maynard, Sports Editor
Photo By: Mickey Hutchings, Photo Editor