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Monarchs crowned victor as Mountaineers go home 3-4

Courtesy of David Katzenmaier, App State Athletics
Junior quarterback Joey Aguilar celebrates in the end zone after a score against Old Dominion Oct. 22. Aguilar threw for 252 yards and two touchdowns.

In a Saturday night showdown between 3-3 App State and Old Dominion, both teams needed a pivotal mid-season victory. The Monarchs protected their home turf in defeating the Mountaineers for the first time in program history. 

“Heartbreaking loss,” said head coach Shawn Clark. “I hurt for our players and hurt for our team. The kids played their hearts out tonight, and we came up one play short.”

The Black and Gold opened the game on offense, and their first drive consisted of a heavy dose of redshirt freshman running back Kanye Roberts. With junior running back Nate Noel sidelined due to a lower-body injury, Roberts got the starting nod. While Roberts totaled 25 yards on App State’s first drive, it ended on a long third down as junior quarterback Joey Aguilar was sacked and fumbled the ball, but was recovered by Roberts. 

App State’s defense quickly responded with a three-and-out on the Monarchs first offensive possession, which was capped off by a third-down sack from freshman outside linebacker Nate Johnson. The freshman beat a double-team block before bringing down the ODU quarterback. 

Roberts continued to receive the ball as he broke away for a 24-yard rush on second down to set up the Mountaineers in the red zone. App State kept the ball in Roberts’ hands as he carried the offense to the goal line. On fourth down at the 1-yard line, the offense stayed on the field and capitalized with a 1-yard rushing touchdown from Aguilar. The junior quarterback kept the ball on play-action fake, and strolled into the end zone for the first score of the game.

Multiple third conversions by the Monarchs kept their drive alive as their offense methodically moved down the field. On a 12-play, 87-yard drive, Old Dominion broke the goal line on a 3-yard shovel pass to tie the game at seven. 

After both teams suffered three-and-outs, the Mountaineers crossed midfield as Aguilar’s pass was completed to junior wide receiver Christan Horn for 28 yards. Aguilar continued to air it out with back-to-back passes to redshirt junior wide receiver Kaedin Robinson for 15 and 16 yards.

Junior wide receiver Kaedin Robinson goes up for a catch Oct. 22. (Courtesy of Jonathan Aguallo, App State Athletics)

While the Monarchs held App State on third down at the 5-yard line, the Mountaineers kept the offense on the field for fourth down. Aguilar found redshirt sophomore tight end David Larkins open in the end zone for a 5-yard receiving touchdown to give the Black and Gold a 14-7 lead.

Less than five minutes before halftime, the Monarchs quickly drove down the field due to a 36-yard rush from running back Kadarius Calloway. On the next play, running back Keshawn Wicks broke free for a 20-yard rushing touchdown. 

After a quick Mountaineer three-and-out, the Monarchs moved the ball down the field to get into field goal range. With seconds remaining, Calloway rushed for 16 yards, setting up ODU for a last-second attempt before halftime. Monarch kicker Ethan Sanchez’s 47-yard field goal was good as time expired, giving the Old Dominion a 17-14 lead at the half.

To begin the second half, the Monarchs drove down the field, but were held on third down as sophomore cornerback Ethan Johnson broke up the pass. The Monarchs settled for a 46-yard field goal to extend their lead to 20-14.

App State put the ball back in Roberts’ hands and churned their way down the field. For the third time, the Mountaineers converted a fourth down to continue the drive as Aguilar rushed 2 yards for the first down. Once again, the Black and Gold found themselves in a fourth down situation and didn’t settle for a short field goal. Aguilar found Robinson in the back of the end zone for a 17-yard receiving touchdown to give App State a 21-20 lead. The receiving touchdown is the Mountaineers third touchdown on fourth down. 

With the Monarchs looking to respond, they crossed midfield, but suffered back-to-back penalties, pushing ODU back into a 2nd and 33. Old Dominion was forced to punt, and the ball was downed at the 1-yard line, giving the App State offense poor starting field position. 

Starting from the back of their end zone, the Mountaineers moved the ball down field. On third down at their 37-yard line, Aguilar was pressured by the Monarchs pass rush and threw a pass off his back foot to sophomore wide receiver Makai Jackson, but it fell incomplete as Jackson had a chance to come down with the ball.

With a chance to take the lead, the Monarchs were forced into a three-and-out after a 23-yard reception on third was overturned, forcing ODU to punt after a critical replay review. 

After App State’s offense was quickly forced off the field, Old Dominion received another opportunity to regain the lead. The Monarchs opportunity was quickly dashed as the Mountaineers recorded a sack by redshirt freshman defensive lineman Santana Hopper, forcing a third and long. The Black and Gold pressured ODU again on third down and forced an incompletion. 

With an opportunity to chew the clock, App State was forced into a three-and-out. After Aguilar recovered his fumble and an incompletion on third down, the Mountaineer punted back to the Monarchs. 

With less than four minutes remaining, Old Dominion began at their 31-yard line. The Monarchs crossed midfield to both waste time and get into field goal range. With ODU driving down the field, a crucial holding call brought a 12-yard rush from Wicks back to the Mountaineer 43-yard line. On 4th and 10, the Monarchs completed a 19-yard pass to keep their hopes alive and to get into field goal range. Old Dominion did not settle for three points as Wicks rushed for a 16-yard touchdown with 48 seconds remaining. ODU then converted their two-point attempt to take a 28-21 lead. 

In needing a game-tying touchdown, the Mountaineers crossed midfield as Aguilar completed a 20-yard pass to Robinson. On the next play, Aguilar threw a 21-yard reception to Horn at the Monarch 23-yard line. With five seconds left, Aguilar’s pass to redshirt sophomore wide receiver Dalton Stroman fell incomplete, ending the game. 

App State failed to score in the fourth quarter and couldn’t answer Old Dominion’s late-game touchdown drive. 

The Monarchs outgained the Mountaineers in total yards, 409-379. The run defense for App State continued to be an issue, as they allowed 221 rushing yards and 5.7 yards per rush attempt. The Mountaineer pass rush was effective in totaling four sacks, with two from Nate Johnson.

On the offensive side, Roberts rushed for 109 yards on 26 attempts. In the passing game, Aguilar threw for 252 passing yards and two touchdowns. Aguilar’s leading receiver was Robinson, with seven receptions for 103 yards and one touchdown. 

The Mountaineers fall to 3-4 after failing to come back late, down 28-21. This is the Black and Gold’s fourth loss by one score or less.

App State will see the field again in Boone against Southern Miss for homecoming Oct. 28 at 3:30 p.m.

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About the Contributor
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.
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