College Sports

Everything is good at Appalachian State one game into the Eliah Drinkwitz era

Appalachian State’s Thomas Hennigan (5) catches a pass near the goal line in front of East Tennessee State’s Jeremy Lewis (13) in an NCAA football game, Saturday, Aug. 31, 2019, in Boone, N.C. (Walt Unks/Winston-Salem Journal via AP)
Appalachian State’s Thomas Hennigan (5) catches a pass near the goal line in front of East Tennessee State’s Jeremy Lewis (13) in an NCAA football game, Saturday, Aug. 31, 2019, in Boone, N.C. (Walt Unks/Winston-Salem Journal via AP) AP

Blue skies, a big crowd and a one-sided victory. Yes, everything is good in Mountaineer Country, one game into the Eli Drinkwitz era.

Appalachian State’s size and speed eventually wore down a game East Tennessee State on Saturday afternoon, and the Mountaineers rolled to a 42-7 victory in Drinkwitz’s first game as head coach.

“Well, when you win, it’s lots of fun,” Drinkwitz, a former N.C. State offensive coordinator who replaced Scott Satterfield in Boone, said after the Mountaineers’ dominating victory.

His team sputtered at times, especially in the first half, when the FCS Buccaneers trailed only 7-0 halfway through the second quarter. But the offense piled up 291 of its total 444 yards after halftime, scoring four touchdowns in the final two quarters.

“There were a couple times when I was sitting back there talking, and I forgot that I should be watching the defense,” Drinkwitz said afterward, downing a Snickers bar in three or four bites. “It was different.”

With 10 of 11 offensive starters back, ASU is expected to score plenty of points this season. Mountaineers starting quarterback Zac Thomas completed 16-of-24 passes for 150 yards and two touchdowns, and the defense totaled 10 tackles for loss against the Buccaneers, defending Southern Conference champions.

Joining Drinkwitz and the Mountaineers on the sidelines was legendary App State coach Jerry Moore, who was honored before the game, getting a standing ovation from the crowd of 21,547, and at halftime.

The game changed when ...

Appalachian State drove for a touchdown on its first series of the second half. The first half ended with East Tennessee State driving deep into ASU territory but running out of time. With the score 14-0, the Mountaineers marched 75 yards in 11 plays to start the third quarter, scoring on a Darrynton Evans’ run for a 21-0 lead.

Helmet stickers

Zac Thomas: The Mountaineers’ junior quarterback threw for 150 yards. His second touchdown pass was remarkable, as Thomas was under heavy pressure and got rid of the ball while being hit. The pass covered 30 yards to Thomas Hennigan.

Akeem Davis-Gaither: A senior linebacker, Davis-Gaither had seven tackles, one for loss, and two pass breakups.

Making sense of the numbers

0 — Number of interceptions by Appalachian State, which entered the game tied with San Diego State for the most picks since 2015. The Mountaineers also had no sacks.

99 — Rushing yardage for Darrynton Evans, who averaged 7.1 yards per carry. He was the game’s leading rusher.

291 — Second-half yardage for the Mountaineers — nearly twice the total yardage they gained in the first half.

Next up

The Mountaineers are home next Saturday afternoon against the Charlotte 49ers. East Tennessee State has a home game Saturday night against Shorter.

Steve Lyttle on Twitter: @slyttle

  Comments