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The good, bad and ugly: App State vs. ODU

Courtesy of Jonathan Aguallo, App State Athletics
Senior safety Nick Ross makes the tackle on an Old Dominion player Oct. 21.

App State football dropped their second-straight game against Old Dominion to fall to 3-4. Here’s a few things that went right and wrong for the Mountaineers Saturday night in their 28-21 loss.

The Good

In App State’s 22-19 loss against Wyoming, the offensive play calling was criticized as the Mountaineers settled for three field goals with the ball in the red zone. Settling for three instead of seven was the difference on Sept. 23.

Weeks removed from the Wyoming loss, App State had different ideas in the red zone against Old Dominion. 

The aggressive play calling from offensive coordinator Frank Ponce highlighted the night for the Mountaineers. App State’s 21 points came on fourth down as the offense converted 4/4 fourth downs. 

Junior quarterback Joey Aguilar either rushed or threw for each of those touchdowns.

On the goal line in the first quarter, Aguilar rolled out to his right and into the end zone for a 1-yard rushing touchdown. Before halftime, Aguilar found a wide-open redshirt sophomore tight end David Larkins for a 5-yard receiving touchdown. 

Finally, the Mountaineers highlight of the night came in the third quarter on 4th and 4. Aguilar threw a 17-yard pass that was contested by the Monarchs in the back of the end zone, but was hauled in by redshirt junior wide receiver Kaedin Robinson as he tapped his feet in bounds. 

While the Black and Gold were missing their leading rusher in junior running back Nate Noel, Aguilar stepped up on fourth down throughout the game to keep the Mountaineers in the game. 

The Bad

An issue that has continued to plague this App State team is the run defense. Coming into the game against Old Dominion, the Mountaineer defense allowed 5.29 yards per rush, the second-highest in the Sun Belt. 

The Monarchs rushed for 248 yards on 39 attempts, averaging 5.7 yards per rush. 

After playing against ODU, App State has given up 1,352 yards on the ground, the second most in the Sun Belt. Along with allowing 5.34 yards per attempt and 193.14 rushing yards per game. 

On the defensive end, the Mountaineers have consistently lost the battle in the trenches, leading to the losses piling up for the Black and Gold.

This is partly due to tackling at the linebacker level and winning the battle at the line of scrimmage.

Fortunately for App State, other than Georgia State, the rest of the Mountaineers’ opponents rank in the bottom half of the Sun Belt in rushing offense.

The Ugly

Entering the fourth quarter, App State held a 21-20 lead and looked to be in control of the game.

The Mountaineers were held scoreless in the fourth and possessed the ball four times. Three possessions ended in a punt and the last ended due to time expiring. 

Excluding the last drive, the first three fourth-quarter possessions totaled 59 yards. 

Quick and ineffective drives cannot happen when holding a one-point lead. Those drives hurt not only the offense but the defense as well, as Old Dominion continued to be given opportunities to take the lead. 

A long run game oriented drive would’ve iced the game for App State, but an ineffective fourth-quarter offensive performance caught up to the Mountaineers as the Monarchs took the lead by seven with 48 seconds remaining. This led the App State offense to an uphill battle created by their inefficiencies. 

Throughout the season, late-game execution and scenarios have been the Black and Gold’s weak point, as all four losses have come in one-score games. 

The game against ODU is no different, as the Mountaineers will head back to Boone with a 3-4 record on another heartbreaking late-game defeat. 

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About the Contributor
Chance Chamberlain, Associate Sports Editor
Chance Chamberlain (he/him) is a senior journalism major, media studies minor. This is his second year writing for The Appalachian.
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    Bob BuilderOct 24, 2023 at 2:13 pm

    When will coaching changes be discussed?