Appalachian State won its Sun Belt Conference opener Saturday. It just took the Mountaineers a while to gain some separation from Georgia State.
Appalachian State claimed a 17-3 victory at Kidd Brewer Stadium, breaking a scoreless tie on Jalin Moore’s 45-yard touchdown run early in the second half and increasing its lead on Michael Rubino’s 42-yard field goal to start the fourth quarter.
Facing a winless opponent with the nation’s lowest-ranked rushing offense and rushing defense, Appalachian (3-2, 1-0) intercepted four passes and held the Panthers (0-4, 0-1) to 241 total yards.
Georgia State’s Rogier Ten Lohuis converted a 43-yard field goal with 9 minutes, 18 seconds remaining to eliminate the shutout, and the Mountaineers chewed up the next six minutes with a 14-play, 85-yard drive that ended with Taylor Lamb’s 12-yard touchdown pass to Shaedon Meadors on third-and-7.
Moore rushed for 159 yards in his second career start, and Lamb threw for 143 in a workmanlike performance for Appalachian State, which has a bye week before playing at Louisiana-Lafayette on Oct. 12.
The first half featured a combined eight punts and two turnovers, including a first-quarter interception by Appalachian State linebacker Eric Boggs. According to Appalachian State, it hadn’t participated in a scoreless first half since a 10-3 win at Marshall in 1995, when current coach Scott Satterfield accounted for a late touchdown in his head-to-head matchup with eventual NFL quarterback Chad Pennington.
Lamb, Appalachian State’s third-year starting quarterback, opened the second half against Georgia State with an 11-yard keeper, but left the game for one play with a minor injury. Backup quarterback J.P. Caruso rushed for 8 yards on another keeper, and Moore gained 9 yards on a handoff from Lamb before breaking free for a 45-yard score.
Rubino missed a 44-yard field goal later in the third quarter, making him 0 for 4 on the season in attempts of at least 40 yards, but safety Alex Gray picked off a pass from Utah transfer Conner Manning on the next play and returned the ball 11 yards to Georgia State’s 34.
Appalachian State passed on a chance to try a 49-yard field goal in a fourth-and-8 situation, and defensive pass interference prolonged the series, which stalled at the Georgia State 25. The Mountaineers kicked this time, and Rubino delivered with the longest field goal through five games of his redshirt freshman season.
Mondo Williams and Brandon Pinckney also had interceptions against Manning, who completed 19 of 44 throws for 153 yards.
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