Mountaineers defensive struggles continue, fall to Bobcats 36-24


Courtesy of Cade Bettinger, App State Athletics

Senior tight end Henry Pearson walks into the end zone after catching one of his two touchdown receptions against Texas State Oct. 8, 2022.

Jack Jackson, Reporter

Following a shutout against The Citadel, App State lost momentum and fell to Texas State 36-24 in its conference road opener. 

“Nothing was good today,” said head coach Shawn Clark. “We have to get back to the fundamentals this program was built upon.”

On the opening drive, Texas State slowly drove down the field, draining over four and a half minutes off the clock. On the 11th play of the drive, Bobcats quarterback Layne Hatcher threw an interception to senior defensive back Dexter Lawson Jr. 

After turning the Mountaineers over on downs and securing good field position, Bobcats running back Lincoln Pare punched in a two-yard touchdown for Texas State. Following the point after, the Bobcats led 7-0. 

After a short App State punt, Texas State pieced together another scoring drive. The Bobcats quickly marched inside the red zone again, where the Mountaineers conceded three straight penalties. Hatcher then found receiver Charles Brown for a two-yard score, pushing the lead to 14-0. 

The Mountaineers took over from the 25-yard line looking to get back in the game, however an unnecessary roughness on first down pushed the Mountaineers back inside their own 15. Not long after, the Mountaineers punted again. 

On the subsequent Texas State possession, another App State defensive penalty moved Texas State further down the field. A 33-yard Bobcat field goal made it 17-0. 

The Mountaineers’ fourth possession ended in a fumble by sophomore running back Nate Noel on the App State 47-yard line as he fought for a first down. 

Following the struggles of the last drive, the Mountaineers were quickly pushed back inside the 10 before the Bobcats took over at the App State 33-yard line from a short punt.

Given the good field position, Hatcher took a shot down field, drawing a defensive holding penalty on the Mountaineers. Hatcher immediately looked to pass again, finding Ashtyn Hawkins for a 23-yard passing touchdown. The point after expanded the Bobcats lead to 24-0.

With less than a minute left in the half, Chase Brice led the Mountaineers down the field to scavenge any points they could get. Brice found sophomore wide receiver Christian Horn immediately for 16 yards and a first down. The Mountaineers put together a short and quick drive surging into Bobcat territory. Sophomore kicker Michael Hughes hit a 30-yard field goal as time expired to make it 24-3 Bobcats. 

“We had five personal fouls and twelve penalties before halftime,” Clark said. “You can’t win any game with five personal fouls.” 

App State received the second half kickoff, letting the ball go out of the end zone for a touchback. 10 plays into the drive, the Mountaineers elected to go for it on fourth down, where Bobcat Tory Spears intercepted Brice’s pass and returned it 94 yards for a pick-six, building the Texas State lead to 30-3. 

On the next possession, Brice responded, finding redshirt freshman receiver Dalton Stroman for 55 yards. The Mountaineers found some success with short yardage plays moving down the field. App State elected to go for it on fourth down again, this time with Brice finding senior tight end Henry Pearson for a 12-yard touchdown pass. Hughes’ point after attempt was good and the Mountaineers trailed 30-10 with 7:37 left in the third quarter.

Hatcher continued where he left off, finding a receiver for 30 yards and picking up 17 yards on three straight rushes. After a few short yardage plays, Keller drained a kick from 29 yards, growing the Bobcats’ lead to 33-10. 

On his third drive of the third quarter, Brice led the Black and Gold to a first-and-goal. On third-and-goal, Brice found Pearson for a two-yard touchdown followed by a successful two-point conversion on a pass from Brice to Horn. The Mountaineers trailed 33-18. 

To start the fourth quarter, the Bobcats had a quick three-and-out, gaining four yards on the drive before punting away to the Mountaineers 30-yard line.

Fighting to get back in the game, Brice found Noel on three consecutive passes for a first down. The Mountaineers continued to move up field from short runs and a few quick passes, but a sack and three straight incompletions gave the Bobcats the ball at their own 39-yard line.

Following the turnover on downs, the Bobcats completed a 42-yard pass, leading to a 37-yard field goal. App State trailed 36-18.

The Mountaineers took over from their own 48-yard line following a 42-yard kick return from redshirt sophomore Milan Tucker. Brice started the drive with four straight completions, putting the Mountaineers on the Bobcats 6-yard line. Going for it on fourth-and-goal, Noel slipped going back to the ball, causing the Mountaineers their third turnover on downs of the game. 

With just 3:12 left in the game, the Bobcats ran down the clock with three runs before punting. 

On the final play of the game, Brice found Stroman in the end zone as time expired, making the final score 36-24. 

The Mountaineers fall to 3-3 and 1-2 in the Sun Belt this season. They have a bye week next before hosting Georgia State Oct. 19 in Boone.