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Mountaineers set to hunt the Panthers in Atlanta

Former+App+State+quarterback+Chase+Brice+prepares+to+launch+a+ball+downfield+against+Georgia+State+Oct.+19%2C+2022.
Hiatt Ellis
Former App State quarterback Chase Brice prepares to launch a ball downfield against Georgia State Oct. 19, 2022.

After rolling over the Thundering Herd, the 5-4 Mountaineers travel to Atlanta to take on the 6-3 Georgia State Panthers Saturday. 

Both squads are coming into Saturday’s game under opposite circumstances. 

App State hopes to ride the momentum they’ve built in winning their previous two conference games. On the other side, Georgia State hopes to stop their plummet down the Sun Belt Conference standings after losing their last two matchups. 

The Panthers come off a 42-14 home loss to undefeated No. 21 James Madison. The Mountaineers come in following a 31-9 win over Marshall.

Further, the two teams face opposite issues on the defensive side of the ball. Among Sun Belt teams, Georgia State allows the most passing yards per game, while App State allows the most rushing yards per game.

“They’re playing with their hair on fire and they’re having fun playing football,” said head coach Shawn Clark of the Panthers defense. “I know they’ll be ready to play this week.” 

Both offenses work in favor of the defensive flaws. The Mountaineers are a top-five Sun Belt passing team and the Panthers are a top-three rushing team. 

Georgia State features dual-threat quarterback Darren Grainger, who has accounted for more than 1,800 passing yards, 551 yards rushing yards and 19 total touchdowns. 

“He’s one of the better quarterbacks in our league right now, he can beat you with his arm, he can beat you with his feet,” Clark said. “He presents a lot of challenges for us.”  

Their most utilized offensive weapon is running back Marcus Carroll, the NCAA leader in rushing attempts. Carroll has run for the third most yards in college football and is tied for the fourth most touchdowns by a running back. 

For the Black and Gold, an offense that started the season primarily leaning on the legs of junior running back Nate Noel has changed due to concerns with the health of his lower leg injury. Junior quarterback Joey Aguilar has taken the keys of the offense and led the Mountaineers to be the second best offense in the Sun Belt. Aguilar is in the top 25 for passing yards and top seven for passing touchdowns in the nation, while throwing six interceptions.

Overall, the Mountaineers have yet to lose to the Panthers, holding a 9-0 historical record. 

Their 2022 matchup ended in a 42-17 win for the Black and Gold in Boone. Only once have the two teams had a matchup end in a one-score game. In 2020, Georgia State made the trip up to the High Country, but lost 17-13. In the other eight games, App State combined to outscore Georgia State 317-93. However, it’s a new season and Georgia State isn’t the same team as they have been in the past.  

“We have a challenging game coming up this week at Georgia State, but we have a lot to build from last week,” Clark said. 

As the season draws to a close, conference games hold Sun Belt championship implications. Both teams will fight to keep their hopes alive to win the Sun Belt’s East division.

The Mountaineers will travel to Atlanta, the home of Georgia State Saturday. The Sun Belt conference game is set to kickoff at 2 p.m. and will be live streamed on ESPN+.  

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About the Contributors
Kolby Shea
Kolby Shea, Reporter
Kolby Shea (he/him) is a senior journalism major, photography minor, from Statesville, NC. This is his second year writing for The Appalachian.
Hiatt Ellis
Hiatt Ellis, Associate Photo Editor
Hiatt Ellis (he/him) is a junior commercial photography major, entrepreneurship minor, from Surf City, NC. This is his third year with The Appalachian.
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