- Josh Scott
App State upsets #14 Coastal Carolina thanks to walk-off field goal
Chase Brice completed 18 of 28 passes for a career-high 347 yards and two touchdowns, Chandler Staton made a 24-yard field goal as time expired, and App State defeated 14th-ranked Coastal Carolina 30-27 on Wednesday. The Mountaineers improve to 2-1 in the Sun Belt, 5-2 overall, while the Chanticleers drop to 2-1 in conference play, 6-1 overall. The victory puts App State in a three-way (with Coastal and the Troy Trojans) for first place in the East Division and is the university's first win against a nationally-ranked opponent since defeating Michigan in 2007, which put App State on the college football map.
"Last week was tough," head coach Shawn Clark said in his post-game press conference, in reference to last Tuesday's embarrassing loss to Louisiana-Lafayette. "(But) our kids never stopped believing...we never blinked an eye. Man, what a heck of a win!" Wednesday night's win was Clark's first against a nationally-ranked opponent.
When asked if this was his best football game ever, Brice admitted it was "up there". "The confidence I had coming into the game, especially from last week...I tried to play the best I could." After throwing two interceptions against the Ragin Cajuns in the game prior, the graduate transfer quarterback from Duke, bounced back nicely. "Those battle-tested games teach you a lot about yourself. They teach you how to respond against adversity. That's something I've had to deal with my whole career."
Nate Noel led App State in rushing yards with 82 off of 16 carries. But the Sun Belt's leading rusher was not alone. Cam Peoples had 58 rushing yards and two touchdowns, in his return from a two-game absence, and Daetrich Harrington contributed with 46 rushing yards.
Malik Williams led the Mountaineers with a career-high 206 receiving yards, off of 10 catches, and one touchdown. Corey Sutton also had another impressive performance, tallying 113 receiving yards and one touchdown. Wednesday's game is Sutton's fourth in the last five where he has had over 100 receiving yards.
The Chanticleers, led by quarterback Grayson McCall, jumped out to an early 14-0 lead in the first quarter over the Mountaineers. On the next possession, however, Brice connected with Williams on back-to-back deep passes, eventually leading to a one-yard touchdown run from Cam Peoples.
App State would get the ball back on the very next play, a play no one saw coming:
After recovering the onside kick, two plays later, Brice connected with Williams on a 47-yard touchdown strike to tie the game at 14 points.
Thanks to two field goals, the Chanticleers led the game at halftime 20-14. The second half saw three straight touchdown drives, two from App State and one from Coastal, leading to a tie game, 27-27. From there, the contest saw App State's defense come alive.
Led by Demetrius Taylor and Nick Hampton, the Mountaineers sacked McCall three times in the game and caused four of McCall's last five passes to be incomplete.
The game's final possession saw the black and gold march down the field on a nine-play 55-yard drive, which led to a game-winning field goal from the super senior kicker Chandler Staton.
In reaction to the walk-off kick the Mountaineer faithful, which was the fourth-largest crowd for an App State football game ever, immediately stormed the field.
Wednesday night's game is one that past and present Appalachian State students and the entire town of Boone will never forget.
Coastal Carolina travels home to Conway, SC to host the Troy Trojans next Wednesday while App State remains in Boone to prepare for next Saturday's Homecoming matchup against the Lousiana-Monroe Warhawks.