Mountaineers suffer second ever loss to Chanticleers, 35-28


Courtesy of Jonathan Aguallo, App State Athletics

Redshirt freshman receiver Dalton Stroman reels in a one-handed touchdown grab against Coastal Carolina Nov. 3, 2022.

Dan Davidson, Former Sports Editor

App State came up short against Sun Belt East rival Coastal Carolina in front of a school-record crowd in Conway Thursday night. 

The Mountaineers drop to 5-4 overall, suffering four regular season losses for the first time since 2017, and 2-3 in conference play, losing three Sun Belt games for the first time in program history. 

“It’s a tough loss down here in Conway,” said head coach Shawn Clark. “We couldn’t run the football and we couldn’t get off the field on third down.”

Entering the game, App State had struggled with slow starts and elected to receive the opening kickoff in hopes of putting an end to that trend. However, the Black and Gold used three plays to gain four yards and were forced to punt just 1:30 into the game. 

The Chanticleers responded with their own three-play drive, only theirs resulted in 66 yards and a touchdown. Coastal Carolina receiver Jared Brown received a pitch from quarterback Grayson McCall and took it 45 yards to the house. 

Both teams suffered three-and-outs on their subsequent possessions, but the Mountaineers found success on their third drive of the night. Redshirt senior quarterback Chase Brice launched a 46-yard bomb to redshirt sophomore receiver Kaedin Robinson, setting up 1st-and-goal at the nine. Redshirt senior running back Daetrich Harrington rushed twice and punched in a two-yard score, tying the game at 7-7. 

Coastal Carolina scored on its next drive, going 78 yards in four plays. Backup Chanticleer quarterback Bryce Carpenter froze the Mountaineer defense with a fake handoff and fake quarterback keeper before finding his tight end all alone in the middle of the field for a 31-yard touchdown. 

After another App State three-and-out, Coastal Carolina scored again on a 38-yard touchdown connection between McCall and Sam Pinckney, stretching their lead to 21-7. 

The Mountaineer offense pieced together an 8-play, 73-yard drive, marching down to the Chanticleer 5-yard line with a chance to cut into the 14-point lead. On 2nd-and-goal, Brice fumbled the snap and the Coastal Carolina defensive line was there to fall on it. 

App State’s defense forced its own three-and-out before the offense returned to the field for a two-play, quick-strike scoring drive. The Mountaineers narrowed the margin with 6:52 left in the half with a 41-yard, one-handed touchdown catch by redshirt freshman receiver Dalton Stroman. Brice led Stroman into the end zone as the 6-foot-4, 200-pound receiver reeled in the catch with his left hand while fighting off his defender with the right. 

The Black and Gold trailed 21-14 at the half. 

Coastal Carolina’s opening possession of the half lasted 15 plays and consumed 8:36 off the clock. Despite the long drive, the Mountaineer defense held firm and forced a turnover on downs at the 33-yard line. 

With an opportunity to seize momentum, App State faced a 4th-and-1 at its own 41-yard line. Clark brought in his big redshirt junior running back Cam Peoples and rushed him up the middle, but Peoples was only able to gain a yard and the Chanticleers took over. 

“I had to try to make a momentum swing for our team, and I was confident we could get 3rd-and-1, 4th-and-1, but it didn’t work out,” Clark said. “That’s a call you have to live with. I’ll do it over again because we needed a momentum swing.”

The failed fourth down conversion snowballed into more issues for the Black and Gold. Coastal Carolina scored seven plays later on a short touchdown pass, extending its lead to 14 at the start of the fourth. On the first play of the Mountaineers’ following drive, Brice threw a pick that was returned 54 yards to the App State 1-yard line. The Chanticleers punched in the score on the ground and took a 35-14 lead with 13:10 left in the fourth. 

App State refused to quit, rallying back within seven of Coastal Carolina. 

“Well, we didn’t quit, and that’s good to see,” Clark said. “We’re not going to quit in this program.”

Brice found redshirt senior receiver Tyler Page on a 42-yard touchdown pass with 11:02 to go. The Mountaineers trailed by 14. 

With 4:57 remaining, the App State defense forced a fumble that was recovered by redshirt junior linebacker Nick Hampton at the Mountaineer 42-yard line. Ten plays later, Brice rushed in a five-yard quarterback keeper. 

Trailing by seven with 3:01 to and all three timeouts, App State elected to kickoff and trust its defense to get a stop. However, the Chanticleers picked up two first downs and were able to kneel out the clock. 

Coastal Carolina defeated App State for just the second time in program history, both coming in the last three seasons, and fans stormed the field. 

App State has long been a rush-first offense, relying on its premier offensive line and skilled running backs to dominate opponents. On Thursday night, it was held to 88 rushing yards on 27 attempts. Peoples ran seven times for 21 yards, sophomore Nate Noel rushed six times for 31 yards, and Harrington rushed five times for 10 yards. Coastal Carolina’s defense accumulated seven tackles for loss and two sacks as it stuffed the Mountaineer ground game.

“We tried to run the football early, and we couldn’t get that done,” Clark said. “If you can’t run the football and you can’t get off the field on third down, it’s going to be a long day.”

Brice threw for 279 yards, two touchdowns and one interception on 28 attempts. Brice also added one touchdown on the ground. 

The Mountaineers were nearly even with the Chanticleers in the passing game, but were outgained on the ground by 104 yards. Coastal Carolina’s plus-one turnover margin and 37:56 time of possession wore down the App State defense throughout the game. 

“We had two turnovers on offense; we only forced one,” Clark said. “There in the third quarter, our defense was on the field for eight and a half minutes, and I went for it on fourth down to try to give us a shot at momentum, and it didn’t work out. But if you’re 3rd-and-1, 4th-and-1, I expect to make those kinds of plays.”

App State travels to Marshall Nov. 12 for another tough in-conference road challenge. If the Mountaineers are to avoid dropping their fourth conference game, they’ll have to defeat the 4-4 Thundering Herd, who are 1-3 in Sun Belt play.