The defense dominated the day for No. 21 Appalachian State in its 30-3 victory Saturday against South Alabama.
The Mountaineers (7-0, 4-0 Sun Belt) held the Jaguars to only 139 yards of total offense. The defense was in so much control that South Alabama (1-7, 0-4) had just 43 yards of offense late in the third quarter despite running 32 plays.
South Alabama had just 10 first downs, and seven of its first 10 drives were three plays or less. Its longest drive of the day was a 12-play, 53-yard drive that lasted 3:38 and resulted in a field goal with 5:43 left in the game.
"I thought our defense played unbelievable today and held them in check all day," Coach Eli Drinkwitz of App State said. "It really allowed us offensively to kind of find ourselves. We struggled converting third downs and really didn't play solid enough offensively, but we played well enough to win and we'll be on to the next one."
The 37-yard field goal by Frankie Onate made it a 23-3 game. The Mountaineers responded on the ensuing drive with a 67-yard touchdown run by freshman receiver Raykwon Anderson to seal the 27-point win.
Linebackers D'Marco Jackson and Noel Cook and defensive lineman George Blackstock each had one sack. Defensive lineman Elijah Diarrassouba had a fumble recovery, and there was a blocked field goal by defensive lineman Demetrius Taylor.
Appalachian is undefeated and trying to position itself for an invitation to the Cotton Bowl as the top Group-of-Five team in the nation ahead of its Thursday-night rivalry game against Georgia Southern. In 2018, the Mountaineers were voted into the Associated Press poll for the first time in program history before they lost 34-14 five days later on Oct. 25 to the Eagles in a Thursday-night game in Statesboro, Ga.
Georgia Southern defeated New Mexico State 41-7 on Saturday in a Sun Belt game.
The Mountaineers' offense on Saturday against the Jaguars was powered by the running game. Appalachian finished the game with 349 rushing yards.
Anderson had a team-high 99 rushing yards on just four carries, but a majority of the work was done by running back Marcus Williams, who had 94 rushing yards and scored a touchdown on 11 carries. Darrynton Evans finished the game with 46 yards on 19 carries.
The Mountaineers took a 7-0 lead midway through the first quarter when receiver Thomas Hennigan caught a 19-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Zac Thomas.
Hennigan caught six passes for 58 yards, and Thomas had 132 yards on 16-of-28 passing with no interceptions.
Kicker Chandler Staton made field goals from 19 and 34 yards out in the second quarter, and the Mountaineers led 13-0 at halftime. Williams got his touchdown on a 3-yard run with 8:03 left in the third quarter to give Appalachian a 20-0 lead. Staton made his third field goal of the game — this one on a 46-yard attempt — with 3:43 left in the third quarter to extend the Mountaineers' lead to 23-0.