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5 takeaways from historic App State-ECU battle

Junior+quarterback+Joey+Aguilar+dances+in+the+end+zone+after+a+touchdown+Sept.+16.
Landon Williams
Junior quarterback Joey Aguilar dances in the end zone after a touchdown Sept. 16.

1. Defensive dominance 

After giving up 319 total rushing yards against North Carolina, the Mountaineer defensive front allowed a mere 79 rushing yards against East Carolina. The Pirates offense revolved around the run game in their first two games, but the Black and Gold quickly halted the East Carolina rushing attack. Once App State forced the ECU offense to be one-dimensional in relying on the passing game, the Black and Gold defense took full control of the game. With the Pirates passing attack being a weakness, ECU quarterback Alex Flinn threw three interceptions, which led to 10 Mountaineers points. 

2. Quarterback inexperience shows

In his second start, junior quarterback Joey Aguilar continued to display his inexperience on numerous throws. To begin the season, Aguilar’s decision-making and reluctance to take what the defense gives him has been alarming. This was highlighted by a second-quarter pick-six thrown on third down with the Mountaineers backed up at their goal line. Aguilar’s throw was underthrown with pressure in his face, allowing the Pirate cornerback to undercut the route and intercept the pass. This is just one example where Aguilar should’ve kept the ball out of harm’s way and live to see another play. Similarly, with many young and inexperienced quarterbacks, the hope is these mistakes are ironed out as the season progresses.

3. Leaning on the run game

Junior running back Nate Noel continued to dominate on the ground by rushing for 178 yards. Many of those yards came on the Mountaineers second offensive play of the game as Noel broke free for a 68-yard rushing touchdown. Noel has now totaled at least 100 yards in every game this season. This trend will likely continue as the Mountaineer offense revolves around giving Noel at least 20 touches a game. The key for Noel and App State will be keeping their leading running back healthy throughout the season and allowing him to be effective on the ground. 

4. Second-half team

At halftime, the Mountaineers offense failed to score over 20 first-half points for the third straight week as the Black and Gold went down 21-16. Much like the first two games, App State bounced back in the second half with 27 points and limited East Carolina to seven points. With the season’s theme of slow offensive starts continuing, it raises the eyes of future opponents. While App State recovered from behind to begin games, it’s a recipe for disaster for the rest of the season as this Mountaineer team is built around the run game. 

5. Historical day

East Carolina traveled to Boone for the first time since 1979 and was welcomed by 40,168 fans in Kidd Brewer Stadium, tying the all-time attendance record set in 2022 against North Carolina. This was the second game of a scheduled four-game series with East Carolina, as the final two games will be held at Greenville in 2024 and 2026. With a successful product on the field and fan environment, head coach Shawn Clark urged other in-state programs to agree to non-conference games during his post-game press conference. In 2024, East Tennessee State and Liberty will travel to Boone for the Mountaineers non-conference schedule. 

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About the Contributors
Chance Chamberlain
Chance Chamberlain, Associate Sports Editor
Chance Chamberlain (he/him) is a senior journalism major, media studies minor. This is his second year writing for The Appalachian.
Landon Williams, Photographer
Landon Williams (he/him) is a Junior majoring in Commercial Photography from Winston Salem, NC. This is his second year with The Appalachian. 
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