LAFAYETTE, La. — Appalachian State vs. Louisiana didn’t become the back-and-forth touchdown explosion that was expected on Wednesday.
Instead, the teams scrapped for points, relying on defenses to carry the weight until someone capitalized.
That opportunist ended up being App State (5-0, 2-0 Sun Belt), finding enough production for a 17-7 victory in Lafayette.
Both App State and Louisiana (4-2, 1-1) entered the matchup with top-10 scoring offenses. The Ragin’ Cajuns scored 44.7 per game through their first five games, the ninth-highest in FBS. The Mountaineers entered a few ticks better, averaging 47 (fourth in the nation).
Appalachian’s final lead came on a third-quarter kick from Chandler Staton, who kicked a 40-yard field goal with 5:36 to play in the third quarter. The victory wasn’t sealed until quarterback Zac Thomas ran in for a 7-yard score with 1:56 remaining in the game, capping a 19-play drive that lasted longer than 10 minutes.
The App State defense had strong moments. Demetrius Taylor, the defensive end who starred against North Carolina on Sept. 21, opened the game with a sack. In the second quarter, he helped App State fortify a goal-line stand by making a fourth-down tackle in front of the end zone and caused a turnover on downs.
App State held Louisiana to its lowest rushing total of 2019. The Ragin’ Cajuns mustered only 123 yards on the ground. The Mountaineers muster a bit better — Thomas and starting running back Darrynton Evans combined for 132, carrying most of App State’s total 196 rushing yards.
Appalachian’s first two drives started inside its 10-yard line. The second turned into a marching score. After a short Evans’ run to get the Mountaineers away from their end zone, Thomas found Corey Sutton for a 47-yard catch. Then the quarterback used his legs for the rest of the way.
Thomas chipped in runs of 27, 4 and 7 — the last of which served as the game’s first score.
The Mountaineers now push their all-time record against Louisiana to 7-0, with two of those victories occurring in 2018. App State beat UL in the regular season 27-17, and in the inaugural Sun Belt Conference championship game, 30-19.