Writing history: App State blows by ULM 52-7 on homecoming, makes Sun Belt history

Moss Brennan

Silas Albright and Moss Brennan

Super Bowl champion and App State alumnus A.J. Howard, App State all-time leading rusher Marcus Cox, and former star cornerback Clifton Duck were on the sidelines watching as the Mountaineers defeated the University of Louisiana-Monroe Warhawks 52-7 on homecoming. 

The 24th ranked Mountaineers started the game on defense and allowed the Warhawks to march 82 yards down the field to take a 7-0 lead. The Mountaineer defense only allowed 121 yards of offense for the remainder of the game. It would be the Warhawks only score of the game. App State went on to score 52 straight points and secure it first win as a ranked team in program history. This is the first time a Sun Belt Conference team won a game while ranked. 

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“We were well aware that no Sun Belt team has ever been ranked for two straight weeks in the history of the conference and so we were motivated to write our own history,” said head coach Eliah Drinkwitz. 

The Mountaineers first drive of the game ended on their third play of the game when redshirt junior running back Darrynton Evans sprinted for a 59-yard touchdown to tie it up at 7. 

A momentum-shifting play also came in the first quarter when sophomore defensive lineman George Blackstock forced a fumble. Senior safety Josh Thomas scooped up the ball and flipped the field with his return, going 37 yards to the ULM 24-yard line that led to a redshirt junior quarterback Zac Thomas 1-yard rushing touchdown. 

“You saw what happened last year when we first got ranked. We got embarrassed at Georgia Southern. I think that it was just good for us to get this win under us and still be ranked,” Thomas said. “I think that shows a lot about our team that we can put stuff behind us.”

Thomas also had a passing touchdown to junior wide receiver Thomas Hennigan from 6 yards out in the first quarter. 

“I thought our defense did a nice job after that first opening drive of settling down,” Drinkwitz said. “Our offense did a really good job of answering that score and settling the game back down. They went three-and-out, and we went back down and scored.” 

The offensive onslaught continued into the second quarter as Thomas passed to senior tight end Collin Reed who caught it in the back of the endzone and managed to get both feet down. 

Junior kicker Chandler Staton also added to the points in the second quarter with a 27-yard field goal. 

App State received the kickoff to start the second half and continued to dominate on offense. 

The only points of the third quarter came on a 15-yard screen pass touchdown from Thomas to Evans that made it 38-7 in favor of App State.

On their next possession, the Mountaineer offense methodically moved up the field, mostly with short gains from junior running back Marcus Williams Jr. that kept the clock running. Williams completed the drive with a 1-yard touchdown to extend App State’s lead to 45-7 in the fourth quarter.

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The final score of the game came with just under 7 minutes left, when junior backup quarterback Jacob Huesman found junior wide receiver Jalen Virgil. Virgil, who is also a member of App State’s track team, made the catch near the 50 before out sprinting the Warhawk defense for a 56-yard touchdown reception that put the Mountaineers up 52-7 for good. 

The defense held the Warhawks to 2-13 on third down conversions, which senior linebacker Jordan Fehr said the team has placed emphasis on.

“Getting stops on first and second down is big for third-and-long, so we just communicated to the best we could and executed well,” Fehr said. “Coach had a great game plan, and we practiced it all week to force them into those long drive situations.”

Fehr had his first interception of the season in the third quarter.

With the win, App State improves to 6-0 overall and 3-0 in the Sun Belt while ULM drops to 3-4 overall and 2-1 in the Sun Belt. App State is officially bowl eligible with the win. 

“It was said in the media that this was an opportunity for ULM to make a statement and we decided we wanted to make a statement,” Drinkwitz said. “That was what this day was all about was trying to make history and make a statement.” 

Notable stats:

Quarterback Zac Thomas finished the game 18-30 with 214 passing yards, 58 rushing yards, four total touchdowns and an interception.

Darrynton Evans finished the game with 136 yards and a touchdown on 19 carries while also catching three passes for 41 yards and a touchdown.

Marcus Williams, Jr. finished with 81 yards and a touchdown on 16 carries. 

Junior wide receiver Corey Sutton caught five passes for a team-high 75 yards.

Sophomore cornerback Shaun Jolly caught the third interception of his career in the first quarter.

Senior outside linebacker Noel Cook finished with a team-high eight total tackles.

Junior kicker Chandler Staton hit seven-of-seven PAT’s and connected on the only field goal attempt of the game.

The Mountaineers were the only team in FBS without a fumble going into today’s game. In the second quarter, true freshman WR/RB Raykwon Anderson fumbled, ending the streak.