Tuesday, October 10, 2023

Last Second Field Goal Drops App State at Home

BOONE – The App State Mountaineers faced off against Coastal Carolina in a nationally televised Sun Belt Conference match that culminated in a thrilling 27-24 victory for Coastal Carolina. The game unfolded before a packed Kidd Brewer Stadium, where suspense and déjà vu seemed to rule the night.

Two years prior, a similar scenario had played out when App State strategically kept from crossing the end zone, opting to run down the clock and position themselves for a short field goal. Chandler Staton delivered with a 24-yard kick as time expired, securing a 30-27 home win over the Chanticleers. This time, Coastal Carolina managed to execute almost the same strategy to perfection.

The evening began with App State trailing 14-0 within the first eight minutes, following a touchdown on Coastal Carolina's opening drive. Despite the early deficit, App State (with a record of 3-3, 1-1) managed to claw their way back, drawing even with the Chanticleers at 17-all in the third quarter and again at 24-all in the fourth. Notably, a pivotal moment occurred in the fourth quarter when Caden Sullivan made a crucial stop, pushing Grayson McCall's fourth-and-2 keeper into a 1-yard loss from the Mountaineers' 14-yard line. This marked App State's first possession of the game without a deficit.

The game had its share of dramatic turnovers. App State's Joey Aguilar completed a pass to Milan Tucker for a remarkable 69-yard gain, only for Coastal to force a fumble at the end of the run on Coastal's 20-yard line with 4:43 remaining. Defender Abraham Temoney managed to make a sliding recovery just before the ball crossed the sideline.

The Chanticleers (with a record of 3-3, 1-2) responded with an impressive 11-play, 77-yard drive, inching as close as the App State 2-yard line, thanks in part to a 21-yard gain by CJ Beasley, who stopped just short of the end zone in the final minute.

The game saw a strong performance from App State's Aguilar, who threw for 305 yards and two touchdowns, one of which was a game-tying fourth-and-4 touchdown pass to Dalton Stroman from the Coastal 6 with 8:47 remaining. This followed a 67-yard completion to Makai Jackson. Unfortunately, Nate Noel, the nation's second-leading rusher, was sidelined after just two offensive touches due to a lower-body injury. The running load was then shared by Kanye Roberts, Maquel Haywood, and Ahmani Marshall, who combined for 22 carries, 104 yards, and one score.

On the defensive side, Andrew Parker Jr. led the Mountaineers with 12 tackles, and Sullivan delivered a career-high of nine tackles.

The Mountaineers managed to level the score for the first time at 17-all when Aguilar connected with David Larkins for a 2-yard touchdown pass with 6:18 remaining in the third quarter. However, Coastal Carolina quickly regained the lead with a seven-play, 77-yard touchdown drive. McCall's 32-yard touchdown pass to the wide-open Kendall Karr followed a defensive pass interference penalty on third-and-5.

App State had fallen behind early in the game as McCall orchestrated a 40-yard and a 31-yard pass on the opening drive. His 51-yard touchdown pass to Jameson Tucker only added to the pressure.

McCall maintained a perfect 9-for-9 record, passing for 220 yards in the first half. App State managed to reduce the 14-0 deficit with Michael Hughes' 29-yard field goal and closed the gap to 17-10 after Marshall's 3-yard touchdown run with 3:25 remaining in the first half. Aguilar's short completion to Eli Wilson on a fourth-and-10 pass from the Coastal 38 turned into a 32-yard gain to the 6-yard line, showcasing Wilson's impressive weaving through traffic.

The second half witnessed both teams making pivotal fourth-down stops near midfield. In response, App State pulled out all the stops on a fourth-and-3 incompletion from their 46-yard line. Haywood, helped by a defensive pass interference call, embarked on a series of rushes, gaining 32 yards, including a 20-yard run, which set the stage for Aguilar's short touchdown pass to Larkins. Hughes' extra point successfully knotted the game at 17-all.

With a crowd of 34,252 fans in attendance, the matchup between the App State Mountaineers and Coastal Carolina Chanticleers proved to be a nail-biting, back-and-forth affair that will likely be remembered for some time to come.