No. 21 Mountaineers route South Alabama, move to 7-0

Moss Brennan, Reporter

An early start and a cloudy, windy day didn’t stop a dominating defensive performance by the No. 21 Mountaineers. 

App State (7-0 overall, 4-0 Sun Belt) beat the University of South Alabama Jaguars (1-7 overall, 0-4 Sun Belt) 30-3 in Mobile, Alabama Saturday afternoon. 

“I thought our defense played unbelievable today and held them in check all game,” head coach Eliah Drinkwitz told App State Athletics. “It really allowed us offensively to kind of find ourselves. We struggled converting third downs and really didn’t play solid enough offensively, but we played well enough to win, and we’ll be on to the next one.”

The defense held the Jaguars to 139 total yards. Junior defensive lineman Elijah Diarrassouba recovered a fumble, and junior defensive lineman Demetrius Taylor blocked a field goal.

The Mountaineers also held the Jaguars to 52 passing yards and 87 rushing yards for the game. 

The Mountaineers scored on their third drive of the game as junior quarterback Zac Thomas threw junior wide receiver Thomas Hennigan a 19-yard touchdown pass with 7:06 left in the first quarter. 

Those were the only points App State scored in the first quarter. Junior kicker Chandler Staton missed a 37-yard field goal with 56 seconds left in the first quarter. 

Staton bounced back in the second quarter with two field goals of 19 and 24 yards, respectively. App State kept South Alabama off the scoreboard in the first half leading 13-0 going into the third quarter. 

“The biggest part was us flying around, playing hard and playing physical,” senior linebacker Akeem Davis-Gaither told App State Athletics. “We knew they wanted to get the perimeter, so we really focused on that.”

Junior running back Marcus Williams Jr. joined the scoring mix with a 3-yard touchdown run with 8:03 left in the third quarter. He ran for 94 yards on 11 carries. Staton added another field goal in the third quarter. 

“We have to keep protecting the quarterback and no fumbles,” Williams told App State Athletics. “One hundred-percent ball security, that’s the main goal.”

The Mountaineers rushed for 349 total yards on the day. True freshman Raykown Anderson ran for 99 yards and his first career touchdown — a 67-yard run. 

“It was a great feeling,” Anderson told App State Athletics. “Coach told me to be ready when my number was called, and I was ready.”

The defense continued to dominate in the third quarter as South Alabama was again held scoreless.

“Coach (Ted) Roof and the staff had a great gameplan, and we went out and executed it,” senior linebacker Jordan Fehr told App State Athletics. “We played as a unit and all did our jobs to the best of our ability. I was pretty mad when they got three points up there because we wanted the shutout.”

Their dreams of a shutout ended when the Jaguars hit a 37-yard field goal with 5:43 left in the game. The lone score in the fourth quarter for the Mountaineers came on Anderson’s 67-yard run with 4:48 left in the game. 

The No. 21 Mountaineers are back in action at Kidd Brewer Stadium on Oct. 31 against Georgia Southern (5-2 overall, 2-1 Sun Belt) at 8 p.m. The game will be aired on ESPNU.