Coastal Carolina football has done quite a few things since making the move from FCS to FBS level football. But there has always been one team that seemed to be the greatest hurdle for the Chanticleers: Appalachian State. On Thursday, CCU cleared perhaps its biggest stumbling block towards a division championship with a 35-28 victory over the Mountaineers in front of a record crowd of 21,224 at Brooks Stadium in Conway. The win improved the Chanticleers to 8-1 overall and 5-1 in Sun Belt Conference play, a game and a half clear of James Madison for the East Division lead. However, the Dukes are ineligible for the league crown as they transition from the FCS. Meanwhile, the loss knocks App State out of the running for the division, as they fall to 2-3 in the league and 5-4 overall.
As they did in recent wins over ULM and Marshall, the Chanticleers got off to a fast start. After the CCU defense stymied the Mountaineers on the opening possession of the game, Jared Brown rushed forty-five yards for an opening score to cap a quick three-play, 66-yard drive, giving the home team a 7-0 lead at the 12:06 mark of the 1st quarter. Brown finished the game as Coastal’s leading rusher (84 yards on 3 carries) and second-leading receiver (5 receptions for 79 yards).
Clemson and Duke transfer quarterback Chase Brice engineered a seven play, 79-yard drive to pull the visitors even with 4:48 remaining in the opening period. Daetrich Harrington capped the drive with his only TD of the night, as App State found the going tough on the ground. CCU’s defense held the Mountaineers to just 88-yards rushing, over 100 yards fewer than their season average.
CCU quickly answered to make it 14-7, going into the second quarter on a 31-yard touchdown pass from backup quarterback Bryce Carpenter to Xavier Gravette. Carpenter has seen more action the past couple of ball games as starting quarterback Grayson McCall continues to deal with a lower leg injury. McCall did put together a terrific game himself, going 18-of-26 for 253 yards and two touchdowns.
Neither team scored in the third quarter as Coastal was able to control the clock, holding onto the football for all but four snaps by the Mountaineers.
In the fourth quarter, Coastal made things interesting coughing up the ball for their only turnover of the night. The fumble by CJ Beasley with just under five minutes to play gave the Mountaineers life at their own 42-yard line. Appalachian made quick work of the fifty-eight yards in front of them, scoring in ten plays on a five-yard TD run by Brice. He finished the game with 36 yards rushing to go along with 279 yards passing and two touchdowns.
CCU was able to bleed out the remainder of the clock, sealing the win with a 47-yard completion from McCall to Brown on 3rd and 11 from the Chanticleers’ 24-yard line. The final kneel downs set off a wild celebration with the students storming the field and CCU claiming just its second win over the Mountaineers in nine tries.
Coastal returns to action on Saturday, November 12th as they’ll host Southern Mississippi. Meantime, Appalachian will travel to Marshall for its next game.