No. 24 Appalachian St. set for home finale vs. Texas St

The Associated Press

This is the chance for Appalachian State to make things right at Kidd Brewer Stadium.

The 24th-ranked Mountaineers (9-1, 5-1 Sun Belt) suffered their lone loss -- to Georgia Southern -- in their most-recent outing at home on Oct. 31.

Now they're going into the regular-season home finale, with 17 seniors a part of the program that has continued a high level of growth that includes four consecutive bowl appearances.

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"I'm very excited to help send them out the right way," first-year coach Eliah Drinkwitz said.

The Mountaineers, who are the first Sun Belt Conference team to win nine of its first 10 games since the league gained Football Bowl Championship status in 2001, take on visiting Texas State on Saturday afternoon in Boone, N.C.

Drinkwitz said the senior class is to be commended for keeping the program headed in the right direction during the rise in the Sun Belt Conference and the coaching change less than a year ago.

The new staff and players "both had a responsibility to embrace the change," Drinkwitz said. "What's going to help us to rise to the highest level?"

When the coaching change came following the 2018 season -- Scott Satterfield left for Louisville -- the Mountaineers could have gone in several directions, Drinkwitz said. What impressed him, he said, was how the leaders among the players made certain to embrace the new staff.

"They didn't wait (to buy-in)," Drinkwitz said. "It has resulted in success."

Texas State (3-7, 2-4) will test the Mountaineers with an offense that uses plenty of motion.

"Our front has got to affect their quarterback," Drinkwitz said.

Texas State quarterback Tyler Vitt completed a season-high 29 passes in last week's 63-27 home loss to Troy. He also threw four interceptions in 44 pass attempts.

"We have two more games to go and fight," Texas State coach Jake Spavital said.

Texas State closes the season with a pair of road games, including at Coastal Carolina on Nov. 30.

"We only have so many opportunities, just make the most out of every one," said Bobcats linebacker Bryan London II, who has a team-high 89 tackles. "Obviously the season hasn't gone how we wanted."

The Bobcats have tangled with Texas A&M and SMU this season, so they have an idea of what they're getting into facing a nationally ranked team.

"Now it's time to go (get after) an App State team and try to make some memories out there," Spavital said.

Appalachian State cornerback Shaun Jolly was named the Sun Belt Conference Defensive Player of the Week after making two interceptions and breaking up three others in a 56-27 romp past Georgia State. He is tied for the league lead with five interceptions.

The Mountaineers have exceeded the 50-point mark in four games this season, scoring 56 three times.

Appalachian State has produced a 1,000-yard rusher in eight consecutive years, with Darrynton Evans eclipsing that mark last week.

"I would say the offensive line was more excited than I was once I got to the sidelines," Evans said. "That's a major accomplishment and something you set at the beginning of the year, a solo goal, but it's really a team effort."

Evans has rushed for 1,014 yards and 15 touchdowns, averaging 5.5 yards per carry.

The Mountaineers will have to deal with what Drinkwitz referred to as Texas State's unorthodox defensive set-up, although it has produced only 3.9 tackles for loss per game, the fifth-worst mark in the country. Drinkwitz said the Appalachian State offense will need to be alert.

"It's a unique scheme," Drinkwitz said. "It provides a unique challenge for us."

--Field Level Media

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