ATLANTA — What started off dicey for Appalachian State turned into a scoring landslide and a convincing victory on Saturday.
App State (9-1, 5-1 Sun Belt Conference) rattled off a 56-27 win against Georgia State in Atlanta, beating Shawn Elliott — a former Mountaineers player and assistant — for the third time in his three-year tenure as the Panthers head coach.
The result pushes Georgia State (6-4, 3-3) out of striking distance in the East Division, leaving Georgia Southern (6-4, 4-2) as the only team within one game of Appalachian with two games left to play.
The Mountaineers went on a 49-0 scoring run in the game, a stretch ended by a late Panthers touchdown after both teams had put in their backups.
Darrynton Evans, Appalachian's starting running back, also surpassed 1,000 rushing yards. The Mountaineers have had a 1,000-yard rusher in each of the last eight season, which is the second-longest streak in the nation.
Evans had 131 yards and a touchdown as one a couple shining performances for App State.
App State’s offense started the game with equal parts struggle and excitement.
The Mountaineers opened with a quick three-and-out then regained possession on the Georgia State side as the Panthers fumbled the return. App State didn’t capitalize on it, allowing an offensive face mask penalty and busted trick play to kill a scoring chance.
Much of the Mountaineers early success came from Sutton, a 6-foot-3 junior wide receiver. Georgia State notched its first score when quarterback Dan Ellington connected a 4-yard pass to Devin Gentry.
App State responded in large part thanks to Sutton, who caught a 27-yard pass in a drive that ended with a 12-yard scoring reception for him.
Georgia State would pile on from there, first with a 67-yard touchdown run and then a 37-yard pick-six off App State quarterback Zac Thomas, to take a 21-7 lead.
Sutton would eventually grab another touchdown, a 20-yard score, to shift scoring back in the Mountaineers’ favor. App State had 28 unanswered points to end the second half. In the second quarter alone, App State registered three touchdowns in the final 6 minutes, 20 seconds.
Thomas ran in a 3-yard touchdown, Shaun Jolly intercepted a pass for a 30-yard pick-six and Thomas connected with running back Evans just before halftime.