Appalachian State blasts South Alabama 52-7
BOONE — There was a time in Appalachian State’s history when South Alabama welcomed the Mountaineers with a dominant loss at Kidd Brewer Stadium.
That was a different time, but not a different place. This time, Appalachian State dominated South Alabama 52-7 in front of a Kidd Brewer Stadium homecoming crowd of 25,862 fans Sept. 29 by rolling up 517 total yards and by taking a 42-7 halftime lead.
During App State’s first game with South Alabama back in 2014, the Mountaineers fell 47-21 to a South Alabama team that ran roughshod over FBS App State, which was in its first Sun Belt Conference season.
In 2018, Appalachian State played the role of the bully. Current Mountaineers coach Scott Satterfield, who was in his second season as App State boss that game, said that loss was a long time ago and in the past, and the current Jaguars had App State’s attention all week.
“We’ve got great respect for South Alabama,” Satterfield said. “They’re a program that can beat anybody in this league and anybody throughout the country. They’ve proven that through the years, so coming into this game, we knew the kind of athletes that they have.”
Much has changed since 2014. Appalachian State has more depth, more talent and has outscored its last three opponents — Charlotte, Gardner-Webb and South Alabama — 169-23. The Mountaineers handled South Alabama (1-4, 0-1) by breaking a 7-7 first-quarter tie with 35 unanswered first half points.
“We did not take this team lightly by any means,” Satterfield said. “We just went out and played really well, especially in the first half.”
Appalachian State’s offense once again proved to be explosive with either its running game or through the air. Sometimes the guy providing the air attack — quarterback Zac Thomas — provided the ground yards.
Thomas scored Appalachian State’s first touchdown on a 54-yard run. His 7-yard TD run with 3:10 left in the first quarter gave the Mountaineers a 21-7 lead and his 2-yard touchdown pass to Corey Sutton and a 27-yard TD pass to Marc Williams gave App State its 42-7 lead it would take into halftime.
South Alabama coach Steve Campbell decided to surprise the Mountaineers with an onside kick attempt after the Jaguars tied the game 7-7 with a 2-yard TD run by running back Kawaan Baker.
Appalachian State recovered at the Jaguars’ 47-yard line, and then benefited from a 15-yard unsportsmanlike conduct penalty on South Alabama. Thomas found Thomas Hennigan for a 31-yard pass play on first down, and Jalin Moore went the final seven yards for a touchdown on the next play, giving the Mountaineers a 14-7 lead.
Campbell said the kick was the turning point of the game for the Jaguars.
“From that point on things went bad,” Campbell said. “I thought we were going to be able to execute the onside kick, get it and that would give us some momentum.”
Thomas finished with 77 rushing yards and 146 passing yards despite connecting on 8-of-18 passes with two interceptions.
Moore took care of the bulk of the Mountaineers’ running game. Moore finished with 123 yards and added a 2-yard touchdown run in the second quarter.
South Alabama managed to gain 308 yards of offense, but reached the end zone just once.
Rushing yards were much harder for South Alabama to gain than they were through the air. App State’s defense limited the Jaguars to 83 rushing yards on 35 attempts, an average of 2.4 yards per carry.
Jaguars quarterback Evan Orth completed 20-of-33 passes for 225 yards with one interception. He was also sacked once.
“We had stupid penalties, some random personal fouls,” Orth said. “I thought they could’ve called roughing the passer on me a couple of times when they hit me low. But at the end of the day 52-7 is not on the referees, it’s on us not being able to execute what was called.”
App State won’t play again until Tuesday, Oct. 9, at Arkansas State. The game will be shown on ESPN2.
“We take everything with a one-game approach and now we’re looking forward to our next game,” Satterfield said. “Our next game is Ark State and we’re looking forward to that. It’s a big test out in Jonesboro (Ark.) and the good thing is that with dings or bruises we can heal them up and we’ll get back on it on Wednesday when we’ll start our game-week.”