BOONE — Appalachian State turned to its power running game to cover for some key mistakes — including two red-zone turnovers — to push past visiting Charlotte 35-20 at an empty and damp Kidd Brewer Stadium on Saturday, Sept. 12.
No fans were allowed into the stadium because of North Carolina COVID-19 gathering restrictions.
App State used scoring drives that lasted eight, 10 and 14 plays and clinched the win with a Daetrich Harrington 15-yard touchdown run late in the fourth quarter to grind out a win over the 49ers, who forced three App State turnovers, including a fumble at the Charlotte 1-yard line on the Mountaineers’ first drive.
App State regrouped in the second quarter to get a 16-yard touchdown run from redshirt freshman Camrun Peoples and a 1-yard TD run from Marcus Williams Jr. in the second quarter.
“When we came into the game we had a rotation going,” App State coach Shawn Clark said of App State’s rushing plan. “There are some criteria we go by and one is ball security. We tell those guys that when you have the football, you have the program in your hands.”
App State missed out on another touchdown on a Thomas interception in the red zone, and Charlotte blocked a Chander Staton field goal attempt as the first-half clock ran out.
Charlotte also forced a Peoples fumble at the App State 20-yard line with 6:14 left in the game. App State stuffed the first three plays of Charlotte’s ensuing drive, but a Chase Reynolds pass thrown under heavy pressure bounced off two UNCC receivers before falling incomplete.
Williams countered on the Mountaineers’ first play by ripping off back-to-back 34-yard and 22-yard runs. Harrington finished off the 49ers with a first-down run and followed with a 15-yard touchdown run.
Williams finished with 117 yards on 14 carries, while Peoples gained 102 yards on 13 rushes. Overall, App State piled up 311 rushing yards and 515 total yards.
“We had the motto today, and all camp, of no excuses,” Clark added after the win. “It didn’t matter if there were no fans in the stands, four inches of water, three turnovers — it didn’t matter. I can’t say enough about our players and this program.”
App State’s defense limited Charlotte to 286 yards in total offense.
The Mountaineers travel to Huntington, W. Va., for its second matchup of the season when it takes on Marshall on Saturday, Sept. 19.