Game day grades: App State (56) vs Charlotte (41)

Moss Brennan and Silas Albright

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Overall team grade: C

Moss Brennan
App State takes the field before its 56-41 win over Charlotte on Sept. 7, 2019.

The Mountaineers were able to get the job done and they moved to 2-0 with the win, but the game did expose the fact that the App State defense might not be as good as fans have been used to in years past. However, it’s still early on, and it wouldn’t be shocking for the defense to work out the kinks and have a very strong 2019. The good news from the Charlotte game is that the offense looked unstoppable and was able to find the end zone six times while special teams accounted for two touchdowns. Darrynton Evans looked like the New Orleans Bowl MVP he is. Expect Evans to continue his strong production, but the four touchdown, 234 rushing yard performance he turned in cannot be relied on to win games. The Mountaineers have an off week before taking on the Tar Heels and have two weeks to try to correct their week two defensive struggles and get as many guys as healthy as they can.

Offense:

Quarterbacks: B

Last season at Charlotte, junior quarterback Zac Thomas was a perfect 14/14 for 295 yards and three touchdowns. At home versus Charlotte, Thomas had a decent game. He went 14/20 for 182 yards and three touchdowns. He was sacked and hit three times during the game. Thomas had a few pass attempts that he under threw but overall had a nice game and spread the ball around the field well. 

Running backs: A+

Lynette Files
Junior running back Darrynton Evans runs for 68-yard touchdown in the 56-41 win over Charlotte.

A career game for junior running back Darrynton Evans propelled the offense to 56 points. Evans had 19 carries for 234 yards and three rushing touchdowns. His 87-yard touchdown run on the Mountaineers opening play was the highlight of the running back group. Evans carried the majority of the load for the Mountaineers as the two other running backs combined for eight carries and 42 yards. 

Wide receivers/tight ends: B+

Four receivers caught passes from Thomas against Charlotte. Junior wide receiver Jalen Virgil caught three passes for 86 yards and two touchdowns.

Moss Brennan
Junior wide receiver Jalen Virgil runs for one of his two touchdowns versus Charlotte.

His longest catch was a 73-yard touchdown catch that saw the App State track star out sprint Charlotte’s defense. After a career high last week against East Tennessee state, junior wide receiver Thomas Hennigan caught three passes for 17 yards and one touchdown.The touchdown catch came late in the first quarter with tight coverage on Hennigan. Junior wide receiver Malik Williams caught a career-high six passes for 73 yards. The tight end group was not featured much as targets for Thomas but had a nice blocking game to help create holes for the running back group and protect Thomas. Overall, the wide receiver group had a nice game that helped out a struggling defense.

Offensive line: B- 

The offensive line did a tremendous job to create holes for the running back group which allowed a career game for running back Darrynton Evans. However, they allowed three sacks and hits on junior quarterback Zac Thomas that should not have happened. Thomas was hit hard on the third quarter 73-yard touchdown pass to junior wide receiver Jalen Virgil. Senior captain Victor Johnson was banged up in the week one win over ETSU and his absence was noticed during the first half of the Charlotte game. Johnson came in after halftime and helped allow the offense to score three second half touchdowns. 

Defense:

Defensive line: D+ 

The defense as a whole struggled to contain the Charlotte offense all game long. The 49ers gained 526 yards of total offense and scored the most points by an opposing team at Kidd Brewer since Miami scored 45 in 2016. The D-line isn’t the only group to blame, but they definitely could’ve had a stronger outing in week two. Starting defensive ends Demetrius Taylor (junior) and Elijah Diarrassouba (senior) combined for five tackles, including 3.5 for loss, and senior defensive lineman George Blackstock had four tackles. Taylor also forced a fumble late in the second quarter that helped the Mountaineers score another touchdown and take a 28-13 lead into the locker room at halftime. Taylor was later ejected for his second unsportsmanlike conduct late in the third quarter. By NCAA rules, since the call came in the second half, App State will be without Taylor for the first half when it faces North Carolina in Chapel Hill on Sept. 21. 

Linebackers: C

Moss Brennan
Senior linebacker Jordan Fehr recovers the fumble in the second quarter that led to an App State touchdown.

The linebacking unit for the Mountaineers had a pretty good statistical performance against the 49ers, but can’t be satisfied with the end result. Senior Akeem Davis-Gaither finished with a team-high nine tackles including a sack and 1.5 TFL. Senior captain Jordan Fehr finished with eight tackles, senior Noel Cook had six tackles with 2.5 for loss and sophomore Trey Cobb finished with six tackles and two QB hits. App State has always focused on defense and has made it a priority to not allow opposing teams to get into any sort of offensive groove. Although it never really seemed like the Mountaineers were in danger of losing the game, the Charlotte offense kept finding ways to move the ball and put up points. 

Defensive backs: D

The App State secondary did what they could against Charlotte, but allowed quarterback Chris Reynolds to have a career day. The redshirt sophomore set career highs in passing yards with 296 and in passing touchdowns with four. Senior captain and safety Josh Thomas recorded eight total tackles in the game and sophomore corner Shaun Jolly made four tackles, blocked a punt that was returned for a touchdown and caught a late interception in the end zone that essentially ended the game. Before the interception, Jolly was in coverage for two straight Charlotte touchdowns. Although they did enough to win, the “Legion of Boone” struggled for much of the day and has a lot to work on between now and its next game on Sept. 21 at North Carolina. 

Special teams: A

On special teams, App State made a few key plays against Charlotte that helped shift momentum and extend the lead. With a 21-13 lead and under a minute left in the second quarter, sophomore cornerback Shaun Jolly blocked a punt that sophomore linebacker D’Marco Jackson scooped up and took 16-yards for a touchdown that gave App State a 28-13 lead with 39 seconds left in the half. Later, after Charlotte drove 80 yards for a touchdown that brought the 49ers within a possession and made the score 49-41 with 3:10 left to play, senior running back Darrynton Evans picked up the onside kick attempt and took it 45 yards for his school-record third kickoff return for a touchdown. Junior kicker Chandler Staton connected on all eight of his extra-point attempts but missed a 30-yard field goal off the left post in the second quarter. Junior punter Xavier Subotsch had five punts for an average of 43 yards per punt and pinned the 49ers inside their own 20 yard line once.

This article was corrected to say “Taylor was later ejected for his second unsportsmanlike conduct late the third quarter.” It previously stated Taylor was ejected for targeting.