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Bobcats upend Mountaineers, 36-24

By David Rogers. SAN MARCOS, Texas — Neither the city of San Marcos nor Texas State University are quite in the shadow of The Alamo, that historic site being some 45 minutes away in downtown San Antonio, but with season opening, lopsided losses to Nevada, Baylor and James Madison, the Bobcats needed to make a heroic stand, play a complete game and come away with a statement win.

They did just that on Oct. 8 — and the unfortunate gridiron victim was Appalachian State, 36-24. It was the Bobcats’ first win over the Mountaineers, who had owned a 6-game winning streak since joining the Sun Belt Conference in 2014.

To be truthful, a lot of the Mountaineers’ pain was self-inflicted. Twelve penalties that cost the Boone-based young men 105 yards and disrupted offensive drives — or extended Bobcat offensive possessions — are hard to overlook. A lost fumble and a 94-yard “Pick 6” interception return didn’t help either.

App State defensive back Dexter Lawson, Jr. came down with an interception in the end zone on Oct. 8, at Texas State. Photo by Cade Bettinger, App State Athletics

But it is also hard to take anything away from Texas State QB Layne Hatcher (26-36 passing for 281 yards, 2 TDs, and 1 INT), running back Lincoln Pare (20 carries for 64 yards and a TD while adding 2 pass receptions for 29 yards), and 10 Bobcat receivers who caught passes from Hatcher, led by Ashtyn Hawkins (6 catches, 105 yards, 1 TD) and Charles Brown (5 catches, 44 yards, 1 TD).

Most of the Mountaineer foibles and the Bobcat accomplishments happened before intermission. The game was getting out of hand by halftime, given Texas State’s 24-3 lead. And those first half points for App State came on a 30-yard field goal by Michael Hughes with no time remaining in the half.

It may not have been the proverbial nail in the coffin, but with the Mountaineers threatening to score on the opening possession of the third quarter, Bobcat defensive back Tory Spears may have been humming “The Eyes of Texas Are Upon You” when he stepped in front of a Chase Brice pass at the Texas State 6-yard line and returned it to the opposite end zone untouched to make the Bobcat advantage, 30-3.

To their credit, the Mountaineers didn’t quit and actually made a game of it by scoring three TDs in the second half while holding Texas State to Spears’ INT return for TD and a pair of field goals after intermission. Even so, they wasted too many opportunities, converting on only 40 percent (6-of-15) of 3rd downs and 33 percent (2-of-6) on 4th down tries to “go for it.”

A reported 25,613 were in attendance to watch the Texas State upset on a rather balmy, central Texas autumn weekend (sunny, 83 degrees). For the High Country representatives it may have been a little warmer than the temperatures in which they have practiced of late, but hardly the oppressive heat experienced by previous App State teams on the road in San Marcos.

After winning the coin toss at the outset, App State deferred and although Hatcher & Co. moved the ball efficiently and effectively, things looked promising for the Mountaineers when defensive back Dexter Lawson, Jr. intercepted a Hatcher pass in the end zone, giving Appalachian possession at their own 20-yard line with not even 2 minutes ticked off the game clock. But after only gaining 22 yards on 7 plays, a series that stalled on 3rd-and-2, as well as on 4th-and-1, the Mountaineers turned the ball over on downs at their own 42-yard line.

Before getting on the scoreboard with the end-of-half field goal, the Mountaineer drives ended with a punt, a punt, a fumble and a punt. In between, Texas State was producing a touchdown, a touchdown and a field goal. It was a tale of opposite gridiron fortunes. In the first half, Texas State did to the Mountaineers what App State did to the Texas A&M Aggies on their last trip to the Lonestar State almost a month ago: they controlled possession. The Bobcats had possession of the football for 18:39 in the first half, compared to App State’s 11:21.

For a losing effort, the Mountaineers’ Brice put up some gaudy numbers by games end, most of it coming in the second half. He completed 40-of-53 passes with 1 INT vs. 395 yards through the air and 3 TDs. Tight end Henry Pearson caught two of those TD passes, while wide receiver Dalton Stoman gained 104 yards on 5 pass receptions, including one TD.

Running back Camerun Peoples did not make the trip, according to reports to media before the game. The trio of running backs used (Nate Noel, Ahmani Marshall, and Daetrich Harrington) managed to gain only 41 net yards rushing.

The Mountaineers will try to regroup, returning home to the friendly confines of Kidd Brewer Stadium for a rare Wednesday night game on Oct. 19, against Georgia State.

Now 1-2 in the Sun Belt and 3-3 overall, the Mountaineers will need a lot of help from other teams to be in the running for another SBC conference championship given that Coastal Carolina and James Madison — both in the Sun Belt East Division with the Mountaineers — remain undefeated on the season. The Chanticleers got by Louisiana-Monroe, 28-21, while James Madison thumped Arkansas State, 42-20 on Oct. 8. With six wins, Coastal Carolina is already bowl eligible. App State needs three more wins to become bowl eligible.

In other Oct. 8 games, Georgia State, which comes to the High Country on Oct. 19, defeated Georgia Southern, 41-33; and Troy manhandled Southern Miss, 27-10.


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