Saturday, September 8, 2018

App State Takes Down Charlotte in First-Ever Meeting

CHARLOTTE – The atmosphere was rocking in Charlotte's Richardson Stadium as the hometown 49ers hosted in-state opponent Appalachian State. While both teams were somewhat new to the FBS world as Appalachian State joined the Sun Belt in 2014 and Charlotte started Conference USA play in 2015. History-wise, though, the Mountaineers hold a much larger advantage as Charlotte just started playing football six years ago. This showed during the game as the experienced Mountaineers were able to find the end zone while forcing Charlotte to settle for field goals in the first half and put the game away in the second half with both a defensive and special teams score. When the final horn sounded, the visiting Mountaineers won the first-ever matchup between the two teams, 45-9.

Appalachian State opened the scoring with an early Chandler State field goal. Two possessions later, Zac Thomas ran it in from five yards out on the QB keeper to give the Mountaineers a 10-0 lead at the end of the first quarter. It was Thomas's night as the sophomore signal-caller went a perfect 14 of 14 on the night, passing for 295 yards and three scores. Ironically, all three of the touchdowns were scored by Charlotte-area players, two by Corey Sutton and one by Dominique Heath.

After a sleepy beginning to the third quarter, Thomas Hennigan's 59-yard punt return for a touchdown woke up the App State faithful who made the less than two-hour journey from Boone to Charlotte. This ended up being the only points of the third quarter. The fourth quarter started with a bang as Corey Sutton caught a pass over the middle and raced 90 yards to the end zone for Appalachian State's longest touchdown pass ever.

Two potential Mountaineer touchdowns were each fumbled away inside of the two-yard line, one for a touchback and another recovered by Charlotte at the 1. A fumbled snap on the ensuing possession by Charlotte and recovered by Austin Exford ensured that all three phases of the team (offense, defense, and special teams) would get on the scoreboard this evening.

A bright spot for the 49ers is in the kicking game where freshman Jonathan Cruz showed his range, hitting field goals from, 46, 54, and 48 yards in the second quarter. These three kicks now rank in the top six in Charlotte's six-year football history.

Notable North Carolinians
Corey Sutton (Mallard Creek) – had three catches for 155 yards and two touchdowns, including a 90-yard score to open the fourth quarter
Noel Cook (Reidsville) – amassed seven tackles and a sack to lead a defense that only allowed 95 rushing yards
Thomas Hennigan (Northwest Guilford) – returned a punt for a touchdown halfway through the third quarter that sealed the deal for Appalachian State

Next Week
Both teams will play Conference USA opponents next Saturday. Appalachian State (1-1) will play their first home game of the season against Southern Miss while Charlotte (1-1) ends its three game homestand to open the season against Old Dominion.