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Mountaineers travel to Wyoming for showdown at 7,000 feet

The+App+State+defense+celebrates+after+denying+a+ECU+possession+Sept.16.
Landon Williams
The App State defense celebrates after denying a ECU possession Sept.16.

Following a 1,300-mile plane ride and a 130-mile bus trip from Denver to Laramie, Wyoming, the Mountaineers will face off against the Wyoming Cowboys on Saturday for the first time since 2015.

Saturday’s contest will be the final non-conference game of the year for App State, with Sun Belt play beginning Sept. 30 against the ULM Warhawks. 

“There’s not really a weak point in their team,” said head coach Shawn Clark regarding the Cowboys. “They make you go the hard way, and make you earn it.”

Wyoming head coach Craig Bohl joined the Cowboys in 2014 with an impressive resume that included two FCS national championships with North Dakota State.

 “Coach Bohl has done a fantastic job there creating the culture that he wants,” Clark said. “From afar, he runs his program probably very similar to us.”

The Cowboys are coming off a 31-10 loss to No. 4 Texas last week in which they held the Longhorns to only 316 yards of total offense.

“It’s heavy run, and they do a very good job with that,” Clark said about the Wyoming offense. “They run the stretch play as well as anybody in the country, and they run it, they run it, they run it.”

Much like the Mountaineers, the Cowboys are led by a young quarterback in sophomore Evan Svoboda, who will make his second appearance as the starter against the Black and Gold. He completed 17-28 passes in his first start against Texas with 136 passing yards.

Junior running back Harrison Waylee is coming off of a career-high 110 rushing yards last week, which included a 62-yard touchdown against the Longhorns.

App State started the season scoring at least 30 points in each of their first three games. A primary factor in high-scoring has been junior running back Nate Noel, who has averaged 145 yards per game this season. Another strong performance against a tough Cowboys defense will be key to a Mountaineer victory. 

Junior quarterback Joey Aguilar will make his third start for the Mountaineers after passing 241 yards and four total touchdowns against East Carolina as he continues to establish himself as the leader of the App State offense. 

“Joey is a great quarterback, and he’s getting better every single time he plays the game,” Clark said. “If he makes a bad play, he doesn’t let it linger, and he makes the next play.”

At 7,220 feet, War Memorial Stadium is the highest-altitude stadium in the FBS, which will pose a unique challenge for the Mountaineers. However, Clark is confident the team is prepared to overcome any obstacles the altitude may present.

“If you talk about it, it’s going to be a big deal,” Clark said. “That’s why we train here in Boone, run Howard’s Knob and do things at higher elevations if this kind of situation comes up.”

Junior tight end Eli Wilson returned to practice after exiting the previous game, and is expected to play Saturday. Redshirt sophomore offensive lineman Jayden Ramsey also returned to practice; Clark said his status for Saturday will be determined later in the week.

Kickoff is set for Saturday at 7 p.m., and the game can be watched on CBS Sports Network.

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About the Contributors
Spence Smithback
Spence Smithback, Reporter
Spence Smithback (he/him) is a senior journalism major, geography minor, from Jamestown, NC. This is his second year writing for The Appalachian.
Landon Williams, Photographer
Landon Williams (he/him) is a Junior majoring in Commercial Photography from Winston Salem, NC. This is his second year with The Appalachian. 
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