Final Score: App State 27 Louisiana 17
Starting quarterback and redshirt sophomore Zac Thomas had an up and down performance, completing 10 of 20 passing attempts for 106 yards, including a 20-yard touchdown pass to redshirt sophomore running back Darrynton Evans. He also rushed five times for 43 yards, converting on third down on several occasions. However, completing only 50 percent of passes for barely 100 yards is not what you hope for out of a quarterback.
Running Backs: A-
Redshirt sophomore Darrynton Evans was the leader of the running back group, rushing for 186 yards and a touchdown on 26 carries, both career-highs and good for an average of seven yards per carry. Evans also had a receiving touchdown while redshirt sophomore backup running back Marcus Williams, Jr. contributed 29 rushing yards and a rushing touchdown. Overall, the App State running backs rushed for 224 yards and an average of 5.4 yards per carry.
Wide Receivers: C+
The wide receivers had an unexciting day, partially due to Thomas’ struggles at quarterback and the offense running through the ground attack. Graduate transfer Dominique Heath led the way with three receptions for 20 yards and the group combined for just seven receptions on 13 targets with 48 yards and no scores. They can’t take all of the blame, however, as most incompletions were due to poor passing decisions.
Tight Ends: B
Freshman Henry Pearson was the only tight end targeted in the passing game, making two receptions for 38 yards, including a 26-yarder, the longest of his career. Pearson also paired with redshirt junior Collin Reed to create a solid run-blocking scheme for the Mountaineers, helping the team rush for over 260 yards on the day.
Offensive Line: A+
The offensive line had a great game, opening up holes for an App State rushing attack that picked up 267 yards on the day and holding back the Ragin’ Cajuns defensive line on passing attempts, holding them to just two hits on the quarterback and no sacks. They were integral in Evans’ 65-yard rush in the third quarter, opening up a tunnel right up the middle.
Defensive Line: B+
The defensive line definitely made their presence felt, combining for 14 tackles and 2.5 sacks. Sophomore defensive end Demetrius Taylor had the big day, posting three tackles, a half sack and a pass breakup. However, they did allow the Ragin’ Cajuns to rush for 150 yards, including a 27-yard touchdown.
The linebacking corps were the generals of the defense, with juniors Akeem Davis-Gaither, Noel Cook and Jordan Fehr and redshirt senior Anthony Flory taking all four top tackler spots for the Mountaineers. Davis-Gaither and Cook combined for nearly 30 tackles on their own and each recorded a sack and two tackles for a loss.
Defensive Backs: B+
The defensive backs had a good day overall, holding the Ragin’ Cajuns to less than 200 yards passing and combining for 20 tackles. Redshirt junior safety Desmond Franklin led the group in tackles with seven while senior cornerback Tae Hayes had five tackles and a pass defended. No interceptions were recorded for the Mountaineers for the first time since their game against Penn State in the first week of the season.
Special Teams: B+
While special teams failed to add to their four touchdowns on the season, they still had a good outing. Junior cornerback Clifton Duck had a punt return for 11 yards and also returned a kickoff for 29 yards while sophomore wide receiver Thomas Hennigan returned a kickoff for 13 yards. Redshirt freshman punter Clayton Howell punted four times for an average of 37 yards, including a 53-yarder in the fourth quarter that rolled all the way to the Louisiana 1-yard line.
Overall Team Grade: B
While it was far from the best game the Mountaineers have played this year, there were still some bright spots and it was good enough for their fifth straight victory and their third victory in the Sun Belt this season. As predicted, the App State rushing attack led the way against the Ragin’ Cajuns, grinding for nearly 270 yards and two scores.
Story By: Brooks Maynard, Sports Editor
Photos By: Vince Fortea, Staff Photographer