5 takeaways from App State football’s shootout vs. UNC


Hiatt Ellis

Sophomore running back Nate Noel stiff arms UNC’s Tony Grimes in App State’s season opener Sept. 3, 2022.

Ben Brady, Reporter

1. Chase Brice doesn’t shy away from big moments

Redshirt senior quarterback Chase Brice’s fourth quarter performance alone could be considered a solid game for a college quarterback. 

Facing a 41-21 deficit in the final quarter, Brice led his offense down the field time after time to eventually tie the game, as the Mountaineers totaled 40 fourth quarter points. 

He threw four of his school record six touchdowns in the final 10:37 of play, and without a pair of close misses on two-point attempts, he may have successfully completed the comeback to victory. 

“This guy’s got guts,” head coach Shawn Clark said with his arm around Brice. “He’s a damn winner, and we’re glad he’s in our program. He fought his tail off today.”

Brice and his team’s resilience exudes a level of discipline that could lead the team to success down the stretch of close games this season. 


2. App State’s offense is defined by its versatility 

The Mountaineers’ offense was defined by their versatility to execute both in the air and on the ground. Alongside Brice’s 376 yards and six touchdowns, the running game produced 288 yards and three scores. 

Sophomore running back Nate Noel set the tone early, as App State struck first with a 52 yard touchdown run. He would finish the day with another score and 116 rushing yards. 

Redshirt junior running back Cam Peoples contributed 66 rushing yards, including a 38 yard run to tie the score with four minutes remaining in the game. 

Redshirt senior running back Daetrich Harrington also made big plays with 48 rushing yards on five attempts, all coming in the second half comeback effort. 

The combination of Brice’s excellence in the air paired with the versatility of the team’s running backs explain why the Mountaineers were capable of totaling over 600 yards of offense and scoring over 60 points in the game. 


3. A strong offensive line translates to success

App State’s offensive artillery could not sustain such a high level of production if it weren’t for a protective offensive line. The five up front only allowed one sack against North Carolina, and they created holes that led to big rushing plays. 

Strong protection on offense also prevents turnovers overall. In last season’s bowl game loss against Western Kentucky, Brice threw two interceptions and was sacked four times, and the offense lost two fumbles. Against the Tar Heels, Brice threw only one interception and the team did not fumble the ball.

The offensive line gave Brice enough time to keep his composure and make decisive plays down the stretch. 


4. Though struggling, App State’s defense showed signs of promise 

The Mountaineers’ defense faced a challenge against the North Carolina offense filled with highly touted recruits. Redshirt sophomore Drake Maye has showcased his talents at quarterback through the team’s first two games, totalling 646 yards, nine touchdown passes and no interceptions. The former five-star recruit originally committed to Alabama but flipped to the Tar Heels in 2020. 

Although Maye displayed his excellence in the passing game, the Mountaineers sacked him three times, with redshirt junior linebacker Nick Hampton contributing on two and a half of those sacks. 

App State did a good job containing the opposing rushing game. Aside from Caleb Hood’s 71 yard rush in the fourth quarter, App State held UNC to 144 rushing yards. In total, the Mountaineers rushed for 73 more yards than the Tar Heels.

“We’ll get some things fixed in the defense. We have to,” Clark said. “We’re going to have a hell of a football team.”


5. In-state matchups are good for college football

Kidd Brewer Stadium saw a record crowd of over 40,000 attendees Saturday, breaking the previous record of 35,126 when the Mountaineers hosted Wake Forest, another in-state, out-of-conference rival, in 2017. 

Throughout the crowd and many tailgates, Carolina blue was a considerable presence, as the game attracted Tar Heel fans from all around the state to Boone. 

“Why we don’t play these in-state football games every single year blows my mind,” Clark said. 

The matchup reinforced that promoting in-state rivalries is not only good for fans, but good for the programs as well.