With just over a minute left on the game clock in Kidd Brewer Stadium Thursday night, the mood was exuberant. And as the seconds ticked off the scoreboard, Appalachian State football fans rose to their feet – those that weren’t already standing and cheered as their Mountaineers held off Marshall, defeating the Thundering Herd 31-30.
But the celebratory mood quickly soured as App State fans lined up along the tunnel leading to Marshall’s locker room to usher the defeated Herd out. Expletives were yelled, insults were hurled, hand gestures were made and not of the thumbs up variety.
“It was a good game,” reasoned defensive lineman Koby Cumberlander to the angry fans leaning over the railing, shouting about the loss. “You gotta be honest though, it was a good game.”
The App State fan who actually listened to the redshirt junior from Roswell, Georgia agreed that it was a good game. Before reminding him they took the L.
Cumberlander was right, it was a good game. Both teams came out hyped, with the Mountaineers striking first off a 1-yard rush by Camerun Peoples. The Alabama native had a night, finishing with 25 carries for 78 yards and three touchdowns, all from rushes under three yards. He also recorded one catch for eight yards.
Marshall struck back with a pair of field goals from kicker Shane Ciucci from 22-yards and 33-yards respectively. The redshirt sophomore kicker finished 3-4 on the night, missing a crucial 42-yard kick with 10 minutes to go in the fourth.
The two teams traded touchdowns in the second quarter, with an exquisite 56-yard catch from Marshall tight end Xavier Gaines, who finished with five catches for 104 yards. Gaines reached 79 career receptions, putting him eighth all time among Marshall tight ends. That toss from Marshall quarterback Grant Wells was one of his best – Wells finished the night 18-33 for 279 yards.
It was a QB battle to the end and despite App State’s Chase Brice slow start, the veteran gunslinger finished 24-39 for 283 yards and one touchdown to his receiver of the night, Corey Sutton who dragged it in deep in the endzone to bring the Mountaineers within two points early in the fourth quarter.
But it was App State kicker Chandler Staton who sealed the deal for the home team, nailing a 45-yard field goal to give the Mountaineers a one-point lead that they would preserve through stout defense and determined offense for the last five minutes of play.
Big shout out to special teams, particularly Marshall running back Rasheen Ali who returned a 97-yard punt off a fake reverse to the house in the second quarter.
App State has now held the opposing offense to less than 30 points in 17 straight games dating back to the 2019 season.
“Those were two great football programs, two great universities, that battled to the very end,” App State Head Coach Shawn Clark said. “It was a 15-round heavyweight fight, and we were the last team standing.”
App State fans should listen to their head coach and leave the fighting to those on the field.
Marshall heads home to regroup before taking on Conference USA foe Middle Tennessee while the Mountaineers travel to Georgia Southern for a Funbelt face-off down south.