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App State Rolls in New Orleans Bowl

By Dave Holcomb
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Since rejoining the FBS in 2015, the Mountaineers have averaged more than 10 wins per season and have won four straight bowl games.

Appalachian State will one day lose a bowl game. That day wasn’t Saturday.

The Mountaineers dominated the final three quarters of the R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl, scoring 45 points in about a 30-minute span. The domination mostly came on the ground, as Appalachian State racked up 233 rushing yards in the 45-13 drubbing of Middle Tennessee on Saturday.

The Mountaineers earned style points too with two trick-play touchdowns during the win.

With the victory, Appalachian State finishes the season 11-2. Since rejoining the FBS in 2015, the Mountaineers have averaged more than 10 wins per season and have won four straight bowl games.

While the running game will probably receive most of the credit for this victory, it wouldn’t have happened without a pair of touchdown passes from wide receiver Malik Williams. In search of a spark after a scoreless first quarter, the Appalachian State offense went into its bag of tricks and pulled out a wide receiver pass. Despite sitting outside the redzone, the play worked for a 30-yard touchdown.

Appalachian State went back to that well on its next possession, and Williams completed an eight-yard touchdown.

On the ground, it was a collective effort for the Mountaineers, as it’s been all season. Sophomore running back Darrynton Evans led the way, rushing for 108 yards on just 14 carries, but freshman back Camerun Peoples added a 63-yard touchdown to put the game out of reach in the third quarter.

The Appalachian State future remains extremely bright in large part because of the play from the running backs. Evans led the team with 1,197 rushing yards and seven touchdowns this season. Peoples didn’t get many opportunities, but similar to Saturday night, he made the most of what he had, averaging 9.6 yards per carry.

Appalachian State didn’t even need its second-leading rusher to shine to blow out Middle Tennessee. Sophomore Marcus Williams ran for just 25 yards Saturday, but he still finished with 561 yards this year.

With Evans, Williams and Peoples all back next season, Appalachian State will enter next season as the favorite in the Sun Belt. Against conference foes, the Mountaineers are 15-2 over the last two years.

They will look to build upon that in 2019. It could be possible to land back in the polls too. Maybe the most historic feat of the season, Appalachian State was ranked No. 25 in the AP Poll in October.

Of course, it doesn’t come without challenges, as Appalachian State must now deal with something every lower-level FBS football program goes through these days. The Mountaineers are losing head coach Scott Satterfield, who departed to become the head coach at Louisville. At Appalachian State, Satterfield went 47-16, including 41-11 in four seasons at the FBS level.

Satterfield will be missed, but with the amount of running backs returning, Appalachian State should reach double digits in the win column again next season. Maybe they’ll even get back in the polls too.