Appalachian State's offense made an early effort to engage long pass plays on Saturday.
In the Mountaineers’ 45-17 victory against Georgia State, App State quarterback Zac Thomas found wide receiver Corey Sutton for two gains of 30-plus yards. The first was a 39-yard touchdown to end App State’s first drive in only four plays. The second was a flea-flicker that resulted in 40 yards that eventually set up another touchdown.
Sutton had four receptions and 101 receiving yards, the product of drilling from the team's passing game coordinator.
Thomas said co-offensive coordinator Frank Ponce stressed as much to the offense last week on the importance of hitting receivers in stride. Thomas said if he makes the throws to keep his wideouts on their routes, it makes both that play and the following series more effective.
“That was a big emphasis that Coach Ponce made on this week in practice was to keep the receivers on their tracks and don’t slow them down,” Thomas said after App State’s win. “Because it is easier on them and the defense can’t come back when they’re already getting beat.”
Sutton’s provided a stretch to the field since his debut at Penn State. He had two fourth-quarter catches of 30-or-more yards to help an offense that scored four touchdowns in that final frame.
The sophomore, who sat out last season after transferring to App State from Kansas State, has 29 catches for 600 yards and six touchdowns.
Sutton is tied for 14th in the nation with nine plays of 30-or-more yards.
Those plays to Sutton help to provide space for the App State offense, specifically in the running game and in shorter receiving routes.
Thomas said Sutton keeps defenders off balance with crisp route running. The receiver’s ability to create separation gives Thomas a better chance to convert on throws.
And at this point, the confidence between the two is as high as it’s been as the team approaches its season finale with Troy.
"I think about that with a lot of plays honestly,” Sutton said on if he and Thomas have a go-to play. “Especially with Zac back there. I think that a lot.”