App State football bounces back thanks to big second half


Hiatt Ellis

Redshirt senior Chase Brice throws a pass out wide to sophomore wide receiver Christian Horn vs. Georgia State, Oct. 19, 2022.

Kurt Zottl, Reporter

Following a loss to Texas State 11 days ago that head coach Shawn Clark described as “unacceptable,” App State got its fourth win of the season and second Sun Belt win of the season against Georgia State Wednesday night. 

“We were embarrassed how we played, I was embarrassed how we coached last week, and we came back and we changed some things,” Clark said. 

It didn’t start off well at Kidd Brewer Stadium for the Mountaineers, with Georgia State getting off to a quick 14-0 lead over the Mountaineers. After App State went three and out on its first possession, the Panthers marched 79 yards on 11 plays and took four minutes off the clock to open the scoring 7-0. 

Fans pose with yosef along the front of the student section on Oct. 19, 2022 vs Georgia State. (Hiatt Ellis)

The Mountaineers punted again from their own 46-yard line on their second possession. Following that, the Panthers drove the ball down the field, this time on a 7-play, 78-yard drive that was capped off with a 26-yard quarterback run to extend the lead to 14-0.

Following those first two drives, the Mountaineer defense just allowed three points for the remaining 49:20 in the game.

“We settled down, we played gap-sound defense and we tackled better,” Clark said. “I think that paid dividends throughout the week of practice.”

The offense still couldn’t find a rhythm, having to punt on their first five possessions of the game, with two of those possessions resulting in a three-and-out. 

But, on the Mountaineers’ sixth possession, they finally flipped a switch offensively and conducted a 12-play, 75-yard drive that was finished off by redshirt junior running back Camerun Peoples who took it in for a 16-yard rushing touchdown on 4th-and-1. On that drive, the Mountaineers ran the ball for 66 out of the 75 total yards.

Neither team scored in the remaining 3:13 of the first half, and Georgia State went into halftime up 14-7.

“Going into the half, everybody knew ‘Alright we know what’s about to happen in the second half, it’s about to be a lot of runs,’ and I felt it was going to be special,” Peoples said.

Many runs were indeed attempted in the second half. The Mountaineers threw the ball only three times out of the 42 plays they ran in the second half.

With Georgia State opening the third quarter with the ball, redshirt junior outside linebacker Nick Hampton forced a fumble and recorded his 26th and a half sack of his App State career, tying him for fourth on the program’s all-time sack list with Demetrius Taylor. 

“I felt it was a bit of a momentum shift,” Hampton said. “Anytime the defense gets a turnover, it’s a good chance the offense gets the ball and scores.”

The fireworks go off and the mountaineers celebrate after redshirt junior Camerun Peoples scores a seven yard touchdown in the fourth quarter against Georgia State, Oct. 19, 2022. (Hiatt Ellis)

After the forced fumble, they scored their first of five second half touchdowns thanks to a 37-yard rushing touchdown from sophomore running back Ahmani Marshall.

With the score tied 14-14, the Mountaineers cruised in the second half, scoring on every possession they had except for the last drive of the game. All scores were rushing plays, with redshirt senior quarterback Chase Brice rushing in for the next two touchdowns, Peoples getting his second touchdown of the night and sophomore running back Anderson Castle scoring the last touchdown to get the offense to 42 points for the game. 

As for the defensive side of the ball, after the Nick Hampton forced fumble, the Mountaineers forced three more turnovers to have a total of four for the game. The second turnover of the game came from the senior captain linebacker Tyler Bird on an interception with 3:01 remaining in the third quarter

“We knew certain situations where they were attacking us, and I kinda just sat in the spot and I don’t know if he ever saw me,” Bird said. “I think it goes back to preparation and knowing what’s coming.”

The third turnover of the game came from redshirt freshmen linebacker Kyle Arnholt, in which the ball was picked up by sophomore defensive-lineman Kevon Haigler. But, as Haigler was running toward the Georgia State end zone, he fumbled and the Panthers recovered.

The fourth turnover of the game came from a forced fumble made again by Arnholt. 

“We talked all week, there were three things we talked about: discipline, details and fundamentals,” Clark said. “We had to draw the line in the sand and stop the bleeding, stop the self-inflicting wounds that cost us football games, and overall, I think we did that.”

The total attendance for the game was 31,757 people, which ranks seventh all-time in App State football history.

The Mountaineers next face FCS opponent Robert Morris at home Oct. 29 at 3:30 p.m.